Friday, December 21, 2007

Booth Jockey Confidential

While the Ax to the Road is in hibernation for the offseason, stop by my personal blog at

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fall Cleaning

Since it's that time of year again - cleaning gutters, draining sprinkler systems, covering outside faucets, etc. - now is as good of a time as any to shutter the ATTR until Spring. The friendly between Toronto FC and the Timbers on Oct. 28 may be blog worthy, so this could end up being a prequel to the last post of the year. But in the event that it's not...

Life moved really fast this year, which I think explains the choppiness of the blog. Blogging, I have found, is all about routine. And if things get out of sync, it can be less than consistent. Next season, my goal is to bring more of a regular insider's take on things and add photos back into posts on a regular basis to help keep things interesting.

2007 wasn't the Timbers' year after all, but what a great bounce back season from '06. Good things are definitely in store for the future.

If you haven't grabbed your season tix for 2008, get them now and receive an autographed slice of the Victory Log. How great is that?

Until next year...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back home, but work to do

After what seemed like a hilariously early wakup call (more of a nap than a night's worth of sleep), we had a hassle-free travel day, and arrived back in the Rose City around 2 pm today. That advantage of the quick turnaround from last night's game is a lot of time today for the boys to relax and get their legs back ahead of tomorrow night's crucial 2nd leg.

Not much left to say last night outside of what was said on the postgame and what you all heard/saw. Again, sometime late tonight or before the tailgate tomorrow you'll be able to hear postmatch comments from Gavin Wilkinson, Bryan Jordan, and Tom Poltl on (just click on the audio news link).

Once again, here's my spectacuarly amateur travel photo gallery, courtesy of my cell phone.

In the van on the way over...Gavin on the wheel, Wicks on the radio, and Kostic on my lap.

I think it's Georgia state law that you can't go more than 5 minutes driving around without passing a Waffle House. I'm actually dissapointed that I didn't get the chance to pop into one. This was on the way to the stadium.

The Timbers making their way into RE/MAX Greater Atlanta Stadium. That big white thing in the background is actually the dressing rooms; a set of big containers like you'd see on a cargo ship, but bigger and...nicer? Temporary of course, as they still build the stadium.

This was the vantage point I called the game from, on the councourse that's been build in anticpation of more stands. It reminded me of my days as a mediocre goalkeeper: once the ball went into the other half, I quickly lost perspective on relative distance, and there was a lot of guesswork on player IDs. But big thanks to the Silverbacks staff: when their wireless internet was having trouble pregame, they ran about 200 feet of ethernet cable for me to make sure we got on the air.

Hard to tell from the photo, but the black Silverbacks flag that flies over the stadium is at least the size of the rising sun flag the Timbers Army pulls out after goals.

Tailgaters! This was the biggest of the three parties that I could see in the parking lot nearest the stadium.

As the Timbers leave the pitch after the match just below me, they greet the family's worth of travelling fans. There was also a guy there who played with Gavin in New Zealand, at the same club Cameron Knowles was once with. Not often you run into Kiwis it's fair to say, so afterwards the rest of the team kept asking Cam about his "uncle".

Back at the hotel afterwards, where a giant stack of pizzas was there to greet us (uh, I mean, them....standing up and talking for 2 1/2 hours isn't exactly as deserving of food as playing a soccer game). Very muted response from the Timbers afterwards, largely because many knew they could play better, and all knew it was really only halftime.

So, Sunday it is then...we'll be on at 4:30 with the full team, and plenty of interviews and analysis as we go, from the best broadcast team in the USL First Division (not that I'm biased or anything...).


Friday, September 21, 2007

"It was a war out there"

Those were the words of Justin Thompson on the ride back to the hotel tonight.

It probably wasn't the performance the Timbers wanted tonight, but certainly the result. 1-1 heading home for the second leg is tremendous, especially considering all the great chances Atlanta had to make it 2.

I did some post game interviews, and those will be posted....eventually. Right now, it's 1:20 am here, and we're meeting in the lobby at 5:30 to go to the airport, so I'm going to bed. More to follow tomorrow...


Live from Silverbacks Park!

It took some work, but we're now online!

It took some amazing work by the Silverbacks staff, and a crazy long ethernet cable, but we're ready to go tonight. I've taken pregame pictures but I don't have time to post them until tonight.

Starting lineup (exactly as it's written on the sheet wink wink): Wicks; Thompson, Thompson, Knowles, Griffin; Kreamalmeyer, Gregor, Jordan, Poltl; Ambriz, Higgins.

We'll be on at 4:30 pacific time with our Toyota Pregame Show


Match Day...

...kind of underwhelming just now. I slept fine last night, didn't wake up with a burst of adrenaline, and I'm not bouncing off the walls right now. But I get the impression I'm the exception rather than the rule.

The boys are out for a jog just now near our hotel. I'm at a local Starbucks with the braintrust, who you see in the photo there. It's a rather mundane setting, I agree, but I think it captures that we're still over 8 hours from game time, and a trick is not to expend too much emotional energy too soon.
Sounds like the plan today is to just lay low and get ready. Once we get some food, I'm going to corner a few players and get some interviews for the pregame show. Certainly all of the guys named to the all-league teams yesterday.
It's overcast now in Atlanta, temperature probably around 65 or 70 degrees. Still a bit humid, but not that uncomfortable. By the time we reach 8 pm, I don't think the weather will play any factor in the game, unless we get some rain, of which there's a 20% chance. But it certainly won't be the hot, swealtering type stuff you fear when you come to the south.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Oh, the A-T-L

How I miss the A-T-L... Not really, but there are worse road stops around the USL and the lodging at the Silverback Holiday Inn isn't too shabby. You can go ahead and eat in there John, the food isn't bad. But for lunch, I'd recommend the grocery store across the median. The deli makes top notch sandwiches for a fraction of USL per diem.

John's vantage point will likely be to the right of his third photo. A quality seat to watch Wicks make saves on Antoniuk for a half, and to see the Timbers look to score in the other. When play is at the opposite end, however, it gets tricky.

I'll never understand how anyone could build a new stadium for any sport without planning for some semblance of a press box. I guess Atlanta just became so used to zero press that it didn't even cross their minds to have a spot for media.

I hope to catch the end of the match as I'll be airborne for the entire first half on a charter flight from Eugene to San Jose. Satellite TV, steaks and Dove Bars is how I roll. Needless to say, it will leave your MD-80 and Boeing 737 in the dust. If ESPN only had USL-1 scores on their ticker, I'd be all set.

JT and Griffin definitely got the shaft, but I'd wager that a continued Timbers' run through the postseason will make that a moot point.


Apparantly I have an audience... the pressure's on to deliver.

First, a quick thought on the all league teams. Wicks was a shoe in for goalkeeper of the year and first team I think, and it's great he got that award. Same is true for Knowles, Gregor, and Scot. But I agree with some that it's a shame Justin Thompson and Leonard Griffin didn't get recognized. At the beginning of training today, Gavin called the team together and told them the news. But, he emphasized multiple times, it's not just about the individuals recognized: he stressed that no one player is above any other, and that they all share in these awards. He said the entire back four deserved the plaudits. And he also talked about how this was a sign of the increased respect the Timbers are recieving across the league, and just a year after finishing tied for last, which is amazing.

The team just had a short meeting downstairs where Gavin layed out the game plan. Obviously I won't mention anything specific, though I'll have more to say during the pregame show tomorrow night. The obvious part is that this is a different matchup than the Timbers had against Vancouver. While the Whitecaps play a reserved, defensive minded game, Atlanta scored more goals than any other team, and while they were in the top half of the standings in goals allowed, they let in almost twice as many as Portland. As a result, this first leg will be played differently than the Vancouver first leg. And I think they all know what a special home field advantage they have at PGE Park, which plays into the strategy.

LATE ADDITION: One funny story from the team meeting. We were all sitting in the conference room at 5 pm, minus two players. So, Gavin picks up the phone and dials their room. All I can hear is Gavin saying, "you realize we have a team meeting, right?...if you were here right now, you'd already be two minutes late..." and he slammed down the phone, more for effect than out of actual anger (it's hilarious to see the way he's constantly messing with players, part of the great team spirit they have). So, we wait, and wait. Marc Kostic comes down to sit in, but the two players still aren't here. Finally, at 10 after, Gavin is wondering aloud how long it takes to go down two flights of stairs. So, he says, "they are in room 412, right?" Thing of it is...that's the room Marc and I are in. So he was unwittingly yelling at Kostic, who was a bit confused why he couldn't be late, but didn't argue the point. Much laughter. And teasing of the two players who finally showed up a few minutes later.

You may have also seen the news recently that Brian Jordan is signed for two more years, joining an increasing list of players on multiyear contracts. That's maybe the most exciting thing about this season: it's not just about one year, but building for the future.

Still not sure what kind of technical situation we'll find at the stadium tomorrow night, so I don't know what the broadcast will sound like. But, if all goes to plan, we'll be on at 4:30 pacific time with another extended Toyota Pregame Show.


Final preperations...

First off, I forgot to put Matt Taylor's name on the travel roster last night in my sleepy state, but he is here.

Secondly, the team just returned to the hotel after an hour long training session at the Silverbacks stadium--well, at a training pitch next door anyway.

Here are a few pictures of what we've seen so far:

This is from the lobby of the hotel here, the Atlanta Silverbacks Grill and Tap. Kind of cool they have their own restaurant. I don't know how good it is, because I'm too superstitious to actually eat there...

From behind the goal, here's one side of the Silverbacks stadium. It's currently in phase one of construction, as they hope to add a big deck of seating on the other side, build up a press box, banquet areas, and build a fitness center just beyond what you're looking at now.

And here's the other side. From what I was able to deduce, my broadcast location will be at this level, in the corner. You can kind of see the interesting seat pattern...supposedly there is only one place where two seats of the same color sit side by side (and that was some kind of prank by the builder). The effect reminds me of the Estádio Municipal de Aveiro in Portugal, one of the stadiums from Euro 2004.

Here's the team at training today on one of the side fields. You can kind of see it to the right, but there's a bit rock outcropping that was cut away to make room for the field, and at it's highest point it creates a dramatic effect, much like the Estádio Municipal de Braga from Euro 2004 (I'm a nerd for stadiums...sue me).
Sounds like we'll spend the rest of the day laying low, maybe go see a movie. Tonight is a team meeting where we'll get a good scouting report of the Silverbacks, which I especially am looking forward to since statistics and biographical info can only tell you so much about an opponent.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hello from Atlanta...

...or at least some suburb.

It's currently 3 minutes before 2 am eastern time, and we're getting settled into our digs for the next few days. Pretty easy travel day today, and I can tell you that after another glorious American MD-80, I've never been so happy to see a Boeing 737 in my life than when we boarded our plane for Atlanta. We had actual audio programs coming out of the armrests, and clips from David Letterman on the TV screens! Good times...

Some of the boys and Gavin have gone out in search of food, but I'm packing it in for the night. They're having a training session at the Silverbacks stadium tomorrow midday, and then taking the rest of the day easy. And certainly Friday, with an 8 pm kickoff, will be a day of rest and metal relaxation.

Gavin briefly addressed the boys in the lobby, and drove home the point that there's plenty more work to be done, and they need to keep their focus. I think these guys know they're on the verge of something big, if they can take advantage.

Here is, from what I can remember off the top of my head, the travel roster:

GK: Wicks and Elfin.
Def: Thompsons S and J, Knowles, Griffin, Morrison
Mid: Poltl, Olum, Hague, Gregor, Lara, Higgins, Ready, Kreamalmeyer
For: Ambriz, Jordan, M Taylor
Hangers-on: Strong, Kostic

Not having Bagley available stands out, and is a shame. Dombrowski doens't appear to be quite back from his injury, but Hague is back with the team, and that's great to see. Hopefully I didn't forget anyone.

Okay, off to bed. I'll try to post something tomorrow during training, as that will hopefully be when we test to see just what kind of a broadcast we'll be giving you on Friday.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What a week this will be...

The excitement and the stress is starting to pick up. Don't get me wrong: I'm living my dream by going with the Timbers to Atlanta and calling their semifinal first leg...but that doesn't mean it's without difficulties. There are a lot of things and a lot of people that go into a broadcast, and they need to be publically thanked.

Firstly, Marc Kostic, the Timbers media relations maven, has been instrumental these past few weeks. He's the one responsible for talking with his counterpart at wherever we're going, and making sure we have all of our technical needs met to do a broadcast, which isn't easy. Especially when he's fielding daily nervous calls from me, freaking out about things not working.

Secondly, I need to thank my employers, NewsRadio 750 KXL in Portland, for not only letting me use their backup studio and some eqiupment for our broadcast last Friday in Vancouver (and potentially again this Friday), but also for letting me miss three days of work this week to travel with the Timbers, and doing it with understanding and good humor. As many of you can attest, it's not easy to come in on Monday morning and say, "I'm on an airplane Wednesday afternoon, see you later."

Most of my prep work on Atlanta is done, and I'll start previewing the matchup tomorrow. We're wheels up from PDX just before 3 tomorrow, with a brief stopover in Dallas on our way to Georgia. Much like the Carolina trip, it'll be another fun series of American MD-80 trips with no audio or video offerings, except the 737 we get from DFW to Atlanta tomorrow (for the four of you who, like me, find those kind of things interesting).

I'll post again from the airport tomorrow, and hopefully have a minipodcast for you by tomorrow night.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Quick update

What a night that was Sunday. One of the best Timbers atmosphere's I've seen, and one of the best performances I've seen, given the circumstances. But, now the Timbers have to focus on Atlanta, and a shot at reaching their first ever league championship game.

As I'm sure you've all seen, the first leg of the semifinal is in Atlanta Friday at 8 pm eastern, 5 pacific. I've been given the callup once again since Andy Mac has to work his other job (and I was able to twist the arm of my employers), and I'm incredibly excited to be getting the chance to call this very important game. The only downside is that we leave Wednesday, so it's a very quick turnaround, and there's not much time to get everything done. I'm making a roundtrip to Eugene tomorrow to pick up some gear, and I'm actually starting my prep work on the Silverbacks once I finish typing this.

My hope is that, in addition to doing the blog, I'll be able to put together some mini-podcasts for with daily thoughts from the players themselves. No guarantees. Speaking of the Timbers website, head over there in the next day or two to hear Andy's call of the goals from Sunday, as well as my postmatch interviews.

So, Friday night it is, 5 pm kickoff on the Portland Timbers Broadcast Network, and we'll have another giant Toyota Pregame Show, chockfull of interviews, previews and analysis. I'll give you a start time for that once I figure it out...


Friday, September 14, 2007

Heading Home

Game 1 of my triumvirate didn't go exactly as I had hoped. The Timbers fell 1-0 in Vancouver, succumbing to a messy 76th minute goal that knocked off several bodies before it was finally stuffed home on a two-footed slide by Jason Jordan. The good news is the match is essentially at halftime with the second half coming up in Portland on Sunday.

Adding to the misery was my Red Sox blowing a five-run lead to the Yankees in the 8th! Not a good sports night for yours truly.

The Timbers are upbeat and the bus ride back to the States doesn't have the typical pall of the 12 prior losses up here. The team nearly pulled off its objective and still feels in control.

The ride will still be long. I came prepared with a pillow and blanket, and will attempt to catch some pseudo sleep before completing the journey by car to Eugene. Now if I can convince my wife to prevent our two girls from jumping on me until at least 10 a.m. or so, I should be recharged enough to take on duties at the Oregon/Fresno State game.

It looks like our driver has directions for the return trip - something he did not have coming up to B.C. He only seemed to know that he was supposed to drive us to Canada and once here, we drove more than an hour out of the way.

If this is the last post of the night/morning, you'll know things either went smoothly or the bus blew up.

Cheers, eh!

Playoff Beard

Since NHL training camps are starting up - big news here in the Great White North, obviously - I got to thinking about playoff beards. For those who don't know, hockey players traditionally go sans bic from the start of the postseason until their teams get eliminated or win the Stanley Cup.

The Timbers' playoff quest begins tonight. In Canada of all places. Thus let the playoff beards (and fragmented sentences) commence!

Timbers' PR man Marc Kostic is on board. I'm not entirely sure if Timber Brad Nicholson shaves yet, so technically that puts him in as well. As for the players, Matt Taylor is looking pretty scruffy, but that's nothing new. Could be a playoff beard or just an oversight on his part, so I'll have to ask him.

Prematch today is business as usual. This team is very workmanlike on game day, so nothing really to report until we arrive at Swangard Stadium. Our pregame show will begin around 6:25 tonight - lots of interviews, etc. - so be sure to tune in early.


P.S. Earl's didn't disappoint last night.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Football Times Three

I-5N Mile 122 -- And so it begins. My wild weekend of three "football" games in three days across two countries. Sure, it's just Canada's province of British Columbia - not exactly a transatlantic voyage from Eugene, Ore. - but it sounds more "extreme" that way and the kids these days are all about X-Games' vernacular.

Friday, I'll be calling the United Soccer Leagues (not a typo - no apostrophe) First Division quarterfinal playoff match between the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps. Following the match, it's back down the I-5 via motor coach to Portland, where I'll jump in my car at approx. 4:30 a.m. and drive to Eugene to work at Saturday's college football game between the University of Oregon and Fresno State. On Sunday, back up to P-Town for Game 2 of Timbers vs. 'Caps.

Why, you ask? Super-Fan? Masochist? Can't get enough travel by bus? I've been wrestling with this question myself. Obviously, my loyalty to the Timbers after six years hasn't wavered, and while it's a tad bit inconvenient to leave my full-time job in the 48-hours leading up to a big home football game, it's not as if I don't already work far too many hours for a salary bordering on laughable (that's my choice, I know). I guess the bottom line is its postseason play for one team and the chance at a 3-0 start with a better future Bowl game with each passing victory for the other.

Plus, 38 is the new 28, which should give me enough energy to pull it off without pulling a hammy or cerebellum in the process.

Our travel today is in an MTR bus, the same G-Ride UO teams use on the west coast and a huge improvement over past companies the Timbers' have dealt with in the past. Faux leather, flat screen monitors, and so far a driver who doesn't drive by brail.

Assuming we make it past the border patrol without incident, we should be sitting comfortably at Earl's in Burnaby by Happy Hour.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Well, that sucked...

...not neccessarily the match, mind you, though that wasn't great either.

Let me extend apologies to all of you who tried to listen tonight. We just couldn't stay on for more than 15 minutes at a time, due to an internet connection that kept dying. This was through no fault of the Whitecaps; they were all spectacuarly accomodating and sympathetic. The Internet there is apparantly run by the city of Burnaby, and they always have problems. But, I can assure you that I'm working RIGHT NOW to make sure we have uninteruppted coverage of the first leg playoff match on Friday. Andy Mac will be there, as will Aaron Heinzen. I'm hoping to be there to add in live interviews from the field, but that depends on our technical situation. Either way, our Toyota pregame show will start Friday at a special time of 6:30, so you'll get half an hour of interviews and analysis before the Timbers start their playoff run.

More to come during the week. One funny story to share with you from the road: I drove up with Aaron Heinzen today, who's a big Seahawks fan. We listened to the first half of the game on the drive up, but never heard a final. So, sitting in line at the border on the way back, we saw two guys heading back to Canada wearing Seahawk jerseys. So, Aaron rolls down his window and yells across the 50 yard gap to get a result. 20-6 Seattle, they yell back. Lots of confused onlookers. Gotta love the bond of sports fans. And Go Broncos.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

First of all...

...GO DUCKS!!!

That's first.

Second, let's take a look at Sunday's matchup from the Timbers perspective.

We saw last week in their 1-0 against Carolina that Portland isn't interested in coasting into the playoffs. There's still plenty to play for: both the shot to finish top of the standings, and the Timbers would love to avoid trips to Puerto Rico, Miami, or Carolina in the first round of the playoffs (though playing the Whitecaps in the first round of the playoffs has its own downside). I don't, unfortunatly, have any updates on the injuries to Andrew Gregor, Neil Dombrowski, or Shaun Higgins, though there's no way I'd risk any of them (especially Gregor) tomorrow if they weren't completely fit.

I wrote yesterday about the weight of history against the Timbers, but there's more. If Portland can get a win or a draw tomorrow, they'd win the season series with Vancouver for the first time since 1980, when they won both matches (the closest in the modern era was a 3-3 record in 2003). Also, with a win or a draw, that would mean the Timbers earned three consecutive results versus Vancouver in one season, and that hasn't happened since the NASL Timbers first season in 1975, when they won all three games.

So what's the key to beating the Whitecaps? We've already seen this year they play a defensive, posession style, and like to slowly build pressure before striking. The Timbers suceeded by holding the ball, knocking around, but also by being aggressive and moving quickly in the attacking third. Portland can't afford to hold onto the ball near the box; the Whitecaps swarm and take it away. I'll be looking for Portland's wide players, and especially Leonard Griffin and Scot Thompson coming forward, to get aggressive and send dangerous balls into the box. The Timbers need to heap on pressure, and not be shy to pull the trigger when they've got a look at goal. Defensively, make sure Martin Nash doesn't get time on the ball in the attacking half (a responsibility that might fall to Tom Poltl), and don't sit back too much and let Vancouver dictate the pace of the game.

This Portland team is built to grind out 1-0 results on the road with solid defense and opprotunistic attackers. The longer grass at Swanguard Stadium might neutralize the speed of Bryan Jordan and Matt Taylor (like it always did to Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar and Byron Alvarez), so look for Chris Bagley (if fully healthy) to step up and create problems with his size and skill. But, same as we preached in their first matchup this year, the Timbers have to keep their heads if Vancouver gets up a goal, and not fold like so many of their predecessors have done in the bucolic setting of Burnaby, British Columbia.

That's all from me until tomorrow. Remember, our Toyota pregame show goes live at 3:45 pm, and as always we'll be available on AOL Instant Messanger with the screen name "timbersradio".


Editorial Note

Didn't realize we were doing dueling bloggers this weekend...but I wanted to clear up a rumor that has been floating around the message board:

I (John) will indeed be up in Vancouver to call the Timbers game. I'm just not travelling with the team because of work commitments, and a desire to see my relatives in Seattle. So don't worry, we'll be on the air at 3:45 Sunday live from British Columbia.


Friday, September 07, 2007

Checking in from the road...

It's not a Timbers' trip, but as I'm taking to the road on a sports-related jaunt, I may as well check in. This is Andy, in case you were wondering - not professional blogger John Strong.

Today's travel takes the other half of the ATTR to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the American footballer Oregon Ducks will battle Appalachian State's whipping boys, the Michigan Wolverines. It was a charter flight from Eugene to Detroit, which took less than four hours, or less than half the time of a typical PTFC roadie to Minnesota!

I realized this morning, before the flight that I actually lived in Ann Arbor for about a year when I was around 3 or 4. My most vivid memories of that time was watching home movies with grandparents and great grandparents visiting, and always finishing last when the preschool teachers made my class run outside. Riveting stuff here, I know. Just thinking out loud.

By all accounts, the afore mentioned JS is a good luck charm for the Boys in Green. Nice work JS - on the broadcast and as a human rabbit's foot. And the blog! It's never been better. After visiting Earl's tomorrow in Vancouver, John, you will truly be complete as member of the team. And you will start looking for work in British Columbia to relocate there permanently!

Should there be any items of interest during this 27-hour round-trip to the eastern time zone, I'll attempt to pass them along.


One last battle...

...before the real war starts.

The Timbers are just over 48 hours away from their regular season finale against the Vancouver Whitecaps. No introduction needed for a rivalry game like this, but I'll do one anyway.

Vancouver has had a weird season. Defending league champs, they extended their unbeaten run to 16 games early in the season, until a 1-0 home loss to Carolina on May 25. Before that game, they were 5-0-2 to start the year. Including that game, the Whitecaps went 2-6-5 through the end of July. By that time, which is also the roster freeze, the Whitecaps had brought in 5 new players, and sent 3 away in trades, including last year's USL First Division MVP, Joey Gjertson.

What's even more bizarre has been the goalkeeper carousel the Whitecaps have been riding this year. Josh Wicks, as you might know, was their backup last year, before coming to Portland and setting the world on fire. Oh, how Vancouver must rue losing him now...last year's starter, Tony Caig, was their No. 1 until June 20, when he abruptly left to go home to England (interesting story on what he's doing'll have to tune in Sunday to hear it though). His backup, the Serbian "Serge" Djekanovic, was sent to Toronto FC in the first week of the season. The man listed as No. 3 to start the year, local boy Tyler Baldcock, apparantly vanished, because he never made an appearance. The Whitecaps brought in former Toronto Lynx netminder Richard Goddard at the start of the year, then signed football vagabond Lutz Pfannnenstiel on July 3rd. Just two weeks ago, they signed Harrisburg City's (USL-2 winners) Matt Nelson on loan, and he played last week against Minnesota. If I had to guess, I'd say he starts tonight versus Atlanta, but who knows.

That being said, this team is still the defending league champs. They have 7 players on their roster with 5 or more years of experience just with this team. By comparison, the longest tenured Timber (outside of Gavin Wilkinson, of course), is Lee Morrison (thanks Diane!), who's in his 5th year with the team. Also worth noting is this: since 2001, the Timbers are 1-11-1 at Burnaby's Swanguard Stadium, with 9 goals scored and 25 against. The Whitecaps gorgeous forest-lined stadium has been a house of horrors for the Timbers.

Can they buck the trend of history? Can Portland win their second Commisioner's Cup as regular season champions? Will they be back in Burnaby four days later for the first leg of the playoffs? These questions and more answered Sunday afternoon, starting with our Toyota pregame show at 3:45 pm, live at

Saturday night I'll preview the match from the Timbers perspective.

Editorial note: I'm not travelling with the team this weekend; I'm instead using the trip to spend time with some relatives in Seattle either side of the game. But, I'll be driving up Sunday with Aaron Heinzen, so you'll be able to enjoy his expert analysis during the broadcast.


Sunday, September 02, 2007

Home again, home again...

...deedley dee. Or something like that.

Sorry it took so long to wrap up the weekend. Didn't have time last night or this morning for a post, and there was no internet to be had at RDU or DFW.

Great win. That game had 0-0 written all over it until Bryan Jordan somehow (and there's still debate as to how) turned in Luke Kreamalmeyer's cross. But, as Gavin Wilkinson said, when you make those kinds of runs, and play in those kinds of balls, good things happen. Speaking of which, check in the coming days to hear Gavin, Jordan, and Tom Poltl give their post-match thoughts.

The team was understandibly in a good mood last night. These guys know that it's the team in first place at the end of September, not the beginning, that goes down in the history books....but I get the impression finishing the regular season at the top would be huge for them. Especially given who would be second. I think the thing that stands out most for me from this trip, and from the celebrations last night, is the spirit of this team. They all really like each other. They look out for each other. It's a group of friends, not just a group of soccer players. Gavin said it's probably the tightest team he's been a part of. And I think Gavin gets a lot of credit: not only did he bring in a group of high character guys, but (while he can become "The Coach" when needed) he's one of the boys as well, which is something I don't think you could say for Angello or Howe. Really just a fun group to be around, and it made for some great memories for me.

Here's a spectacuarly brief photo essay, courtesty of my cell-phone's camera:

The Timbers inspect the SAS Stadium pitch before the game.

Gavin Wilkinson agonizes over who to start in defense against Carolina.

This was the view from the "crow's nest" of the press box. It's all you can ask for as a broadcaster: near the center, up high, but close enough to the field that it's easy to tell who is doing what. Certainly one of the best broadcast locations in the league.

Their USL Live crew was on the other side of the deck. Nice guys, and helpful. But boo those of you who listen to them instead of us.

They don't call it the "crow's nest" for nothing. That's the very steep staircase you must ascend from the main press room to get up there. Not fun to do with a bunch of gear. But that's the only thing I can complain about: even their press box food was excellent (sandwiches and wraps, not just pizza!).

Hard to see, but that's the SAS Stadium scoreboard proclaming the final talley. And you can see the multitudes departing with their heads held low. Okay, maybe that's a tad melodramatic...

Here's the barbecue sauce stain I deposited on my shirt before we left Raleigh. Which meant I spent the rest of the day walking around with a giant "hey, look at me, I'm an idiot!" sign on my chest. Not good times.
"Are you guys a sports team or something? Do you play basketball?....Soccer huh? Do you play against David Beckham?" Timbers players kill time in the Dallas airport before the final leg of our trip home. In case you're curious, Gavin is throwing a penny at someone. And here's some advice: never oppose Gavin Wilkinson in any kind of competition or game, regardless of what it is. Ever.
That's all for this weekend. I'll check back in Thursday or so, once I start preparing for the Timbers season finale against Vancouver.

Saturday, September 01, 2007


First, the match is actually going to start closer to 7:45 eastern, pushed back for some pregame awards and such. As a result, our Toyota pregame show will start at 4:20 pacific time, instead of 4:15.

Second, I won't take you through the madness I just went through to get everything working, but the short version is it took 15 minutes, involved a ground loop of some type, a nasty hum, and a solution that I don't understand, but that I also don't question.

Here are the starters for Portland: Wicks; J Thompson, Griffin, Knowles, S Thompson; Poltl, Olum, Kreamalmeyer, Hague; Bagley, M Taylor. Bench: Elfvin, Lara, Morrison, Ambriz, Jordan, Ready, T Taylor.

All of the area football teams were at home today (Duke, UNC, NC State), so they're not expecting a huge crowd, but there still seem like plenty of people here already.

See you in....12 minutes.


Match Day!

I'm really starting to get fired up. I think part of that is because college football is back, and I'm a HUGE college football fan. That's one of the (only) perks about being on the east coast: College Gameday starts at 10 am, not 7, so I actually get to watch it. Bryan Jordan's Beavers won, as did Troy Ready's Huskies, so let's see if my Ducks can get it done in a few hours (I'll get to watch the first half over the internet before we leave for the stadium).

The boys have dispersed to their rooms to relax until we head out about 5:30 ET. They went for a jog earlier, while Gavin and I went to check out SAS Soccer Park, site of tonight's game. I forgot to take pictures, which is a shame, because that place is nice! The stadium itself is in the middle of a complex of fields, all of which are grass, and all of which are in great condition. The stadium is about 7,000 seats, with small stands on three sides, and a nice press box/office/suites complex on one sideline. The field itself is grass, Gavin describing it as one of the nicest the Timbers have seen this year. It's cut short, so it will play quicker and a little more like the PGE Park surface than, say, the cow pasture that is Swanguard Stadium. It's also big: Gavin estimated it at 120 yards by 80, which is about as big as you'll ever find. Hopefully the Timbers wide players will use that size to their advantage tonight.

As for the game, Carolina tends to play a more compact, defensive style game. However, they need 3 points tonight, so at some point they'll have to open it up and attack more. That might come at the start, that might come in the 80th minute, but the Timbers will have to withstand it and try to nick a goal of their own.

I think we'll leave it at that until closer to game time. Our broadcast should sound better than usual tonight: I'll be originating the webcast on-site this evening, as opposed to doing it over the phone like we normally do. And I tested everything out at the stadium, so hopefully it will all work (never a guarantee when you're doing a webcast). Remember to tune in at 4:15 pacific time for our Toyota pregame show, which will include a more detailed preview of the match, as well as Gavin Wilkinson's thoughts.

Until then...


Friday, August 31, 2007

Humidity is awesome!

I'm sitting in my plush hotel room at the Courtyard by Marriott in Raleigh (or is it Durham? Cary? It's near the airport...). I'm used to travelling with a junior hockey team, where I'd often be sharing a bed with someone, so getting a nice room to myself it pretty cool. By the way, whenever I think of Raleigh/Durham (which isn't often, I grant you), I think of this clip from The Simpsons (skip forward to 2:10).

Long day of travelling. American's MD-80s don't have TVs in them, so there was lots of card playing, reading, sleeping (me), etc. To the right is a picture I took with my's of Mt. Hood, shrouded in a cool looking cloud (I find things like this interesting). Short layover in Dallas, but long enough to run into a couple from Portland who are Timbers fans. It is funny to hear the conversations passersby will have with the Timbers: they're obviously a team of some kind, and it's fun to watch them try to figure out what the USL First Division is. A guy at the airport here asked if they were here to play UNC...I said, "they're below David Beckham, above college soccer."

The boys went to a giant mall nearby, and about ten of us had a pretty good meal at one of those big sports bars you see in suburban malls nowadays (like a Chili's with more TVs).

The team is in very good spirits (this is a really tight group, and they have fun together) ahead of tomorrow's game. Gavin's only real team talk tonight was to remind them of how much Carolina have to play for (in the hunt for the final playoff spot), and he exhorted them to "match [the Railhawks] effort." They know it's going to be a dogfight tomorrow.


God Bless the free Wi-Fi at PDX...

...really marvelous, and seemingly against the tide of ammenities for travlers at airports nowadays.

We're a few minutes away from boarding here. It's kind of an odd dynamic: while I've interviewed most of these players at one time or another, we haven't really had formal introductions or anything like that. But they're all great guys so that will take care of itself.

Here's the travel roster:
GK: Wicks, Elfvin
Def: Knowles, Thompson (J and S), Griffin, Morrison
Mid: Olum, Kreamalmeyer, Lara, Poltl, T Taylor, Ready
For: Jordan, M Taylor, Bagley, Hague, Ambriz

Couple of injuries as well, as you might know. Dombrowski is out 2-4 weeks, as is, it appears, Gregor. Shaun Higgins, who's been playing great of late and won the penalty at Miami, also broke a bone in his hand in that game, and is likely to be out 10 days. Those times are backdated, meaning don't jump to conclusions about the Vancouver game. Speaking to Gavin, he says there's still plenty to play for in these last two games, as they jockey for playoff positioning. I don't think anyone really wants to have to travel to Puerto Rico for a first leg playoff game if they can avoid it. I think these guys know three points tomorrow would be huge.

Starting boarding here on our way to Dallas. I'll try to check in from there if possible, but don't hold your breath...


Thursday, August 30, 2007

I don't have a clever title...

...even though I sat thinking about it for five minutes.

Whenever I prepare to call a game, I'm a sucker for cool biographical information on opposing players. Stats are great, but they don't help you understand who that person is trying to beat your team and ruin your day. So, a few interesting notes on Carolina Railhawks:

First, here's a brief explanation of what the heck a railhawk actually is.... Short answer: it's made up, like a Phoenix...or a Tucson (bam!)

Second, rarely used midfielder (2 appearances this year) Jon Caldwell went to Bradley University, where two of his teammates included TimbersLuke Kreamalmeyer and Salim Bullen.

Third, check out this story about midfielder Stuart Brightwell, who went from Old Trafford to Sunday Leagues, to the USL First Division.

Fourth (getting tired of the counting yet?), Railhawks Marcio Leite, Anthony Maher (whose younger brother Matthew is also on the team), and Chad Dombrowski (yes, of those Dombrowskis) all spent the winter playing with the MISL Milwaukee Wave, along with former Timber Greg Howes, and the other Bullen, Oral.

So there's a taste, plenty more to come Saturday. As for our travel tomorrow, I was planning on posting something brief during our stopover in Dallas, but apparantly that might be difficult. If they charge for power, I shudder to think what the wi-fi situation is like.

One final thought, for those of you with time to kill during work on Friday: I don't know how this got into my head recently, but it did. It's a clip from YouTube of Alanis Morissette singing the national anthems before game 4 of this year's Stanley Cup Finals up in Ottowa. I've become a big hockey fan the last two years, after working for a team in Eugene, and I remember being blown away watching this live, and it still gives me goose bumps.



Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Tonight, playing the part of Andy McNamara... me.

First, a quick intro: this is my second year on the Portland TImbers Broadcast Network as producer/director/equipment minder/halftime host/sideline reporter/drink getter/fill-in analyst/whateverelseandyneedsmetodo. I'm fresh out of the University of Oregon, a lifelong Portland resident, and there are unconfirmed rumors floating around the internets that I might have, at one time, had something to do with the Timbers Army.

This weekend will be my third crack at Timbers play-by-play: I did the Montreal home game earlier this year (Dombrowski cancelled out late by Marcina), and the Vancouver away game last June (funny story about that game, but I'll save it for a later post).

Our call-time at the airport is 8 am on Friday, wheels up at 9:30, which is much better than the 6 am stuff Andy has had to deal with this year.

I'll get into more detail previewing this weekend's game against Carolina after I get my notes on them ready tonight. And if you have any questions or anything you want me to address in future postings, put it in the comments, or send an e-mail to timbersradio "at"


ATTR Goin' to Carolina

It's been a great year for the Ax Men and a weak sauce year for the ATTR blog. Why has the blog suffered so? I'm not entirely sure, other than the fact that I felt it was becoming too much of a forum for me to whine about the USL's award-winning travel arrangements. More likely it's the lack of my old trusty iBook, which allowed me the ability to easily upload photos that my POS PC laptop does not. Overall, I'm not entirely certain why the lack of posts, but I'm not convinced the blog won't make a comeback.

This week's one-game roadie to Tobacco Country will be handled by capable Timbers Broadcast Network producer/director John Strong. Not only will he be calling the action for the webcast, he will also be posting on this blog! So keep your browsers pointed this direction this weekend.

In case you haven't heard, the Timbers first-round home playoff game will be Sunday, Sept. 16 at 5 p.m.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Not So Friendly Skies

Here's a brief recap of what's happened thus far on this travel day...

2:30 a.m. - Wakeup!
3:00 a.m. - Leave for PDX
5:00 a.m. - Arrive at PDX, check in for 6:20 a.m. flight to Minneapolis on Frontier Airlines
5:45 a.m. - Flight delayed until 7 a.m.
5:50 a.m. - Flight delayed until 11 a.m. and no longer going all the way to Minny (stopping in Denver, but not going on as originally scheduled)
6:00 a.m. - Began process of attempting to rebook through gate, desk and Timbers travel agent for flights on other airlines.
8:00 a.m. - Sprint to United counter to catch a 8:19 flight. Denied boarding as we were too late.
8:30 a.m. - Half the team hustles to the Northwest Counter for a 8:50 flight direct to Minny. Denied boarding - too late once again.
9:30 a.m. - Forced to wait until at least 11:30 to fly on Frontier to Denver (with no guarantee that will happen). Best case scenario has us arriving in the Twin Cities at 7:05 p.m., 5 1/2 hours late.

So much for the team's scheduled training session at 5 p.m. today. Evidently Frontier Airlines has one airplane and when it breaks, everyone booked to travel on that given day is screwed. They don't partner with any other airlines, thus giving them zero pull when it comes to booking passengers on other flights in order to make connections. This one guy in line at 5:45 a.m. was told that they could put him on a series of flights to get him from Portland to Indianapolis arriving at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday - 26 hours and 45 minutes later! If he starts driving his car now, he'll be there sooner than that.

I'd heard horror stories about Frontier prior to this trip, and having never flown the airline, shook them off. Now I know. So much for the baseball tickets I secured for tonight's Twins/Indians game at the Metrodome, featuring Cy Young winner Johan Santana and C.C. Sabathia. Curses!

As if the trip to Seattle on Wednesday wasn't bad enough! The Boys need to take care of the Thunder and capture three points (assuming we arrive by game time) or this trip has the potential of rivaling the Seattle/Vancouver bus debacle of a couple years back.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

2:15 AM 118 Miles to Go

The Timbers' bus continues to roll along at nearly half past 2 a.m., turning onto I-26 for the final 120 miles to Charleston. The coach is about half and half, in terms of people awake and asleep. I attempted sleep for about 15 minutes, but it was utterly and completely useless. Looks like I'm up for the duration and will powersnooze the second my head hits the pillow at our awaiting Sheraton.

This winning business has become quite routine, wouldn't you say? Seven straight Ws and 10 in a row without a loss is remarkable. The USL engraver can begin etching Gavin's name onto the Coach of the Year plaque now if he/she hasn't already. Worst to first, all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs and and threating to achieve the best record in team history (USL). Good gravy.

A win later today against the Battery and I'm mortgaging my house for a pallet of lottery tickets.

We're on our third movie so far in the bus. I think the first one was called The Protector II or something like that, followd by Old School and Wedding Crashers. Van Wilder can't be far off.

The stretch between Atlanta and Charleston has to have more Waffle Houses and Hooters than any other stretch of blacktop in the country. They love their greasy spoons and, ummmmm, hot wings (?) here in Dixie.

That's all for now. Hopefully, I won't sleep the entire day away and have a chance to roam the city before the match.


Tonight's Starting Lineup

It's about 45 minutes from kickoff and here's tonight's starting 11 for the Ax Men. No surprises-

S. Thompson
J. Thompson

The drawing is what Atlanta hopes the stadium eventually looks like. As you might suspect, it looks nothing like that yet - very Spartan to say the least. But the pitch is nice, seating views are great and you can see the potential.

Best get ready for the broadcast...

Illsutration courtesy of

ATTR in the A-T-L

Greetings from Hotlanta. Surprisingly, the weather is rather nice in the southeastern U.S. for this time of year, making Warmlanta a more appropriate handle today.

The Timbers are in great spirits, coming off Thursday's landmark victory against NW nemesis Vancouver (first 'W' since 2004). Tonight's opponent should be a tough test for an undermanned PTFC squad, but the confidence level of this group is at a season-high. Hopefully, that will carry them through to a point or better despite playing without Gregor (yellow card points) and only three field players in reserve.

If you're looking to figure out who those players may be, the travel squad is as follows for this trip: Wicks, S. Thompson, Knowles, J. Thompson, Griffin, Olum, Poltl, Gregor, Higgins, Jordan, Bagley, Elfvin, Hague, Lara, Dombrowski and Morrison.

Following the match tonight, we'll board a charter bus around 10:30 p.m. and begin the 320-mile trek to Charleston, S.C. Should be another daybreak arrival ala Montreal to Rochester earlier this season. That resulted in one of the Ax Men's two defeats this season, so tonight does hold a tad bit of importance. Regardless, the Timbers will return to Portland in first place on Monday any way you slice it.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

And Away We Go

Three matches, four days, 3,000 miles, planes, buses and automobiles. This is a test of the Timbers Competitive System. This is only a test...

Well, yes and no. A home match against unbeatable Vancouver (at least for Portland since 2004) tonight, followed by road games in Atlanta and Charleston on Saturday and Sunday will feel more like a four-day SAT. Looking on the bright side, the Timbers have put themselves in a situation - first place in USL-1 on 30 points through 14 matches - where this long weekend is more hell-like and uncomfortable than critical. Remember, this team was dead last in 2006. Anything better than a playoff berth in '07 is gravy.

Don't get me wrong, the team isn't looking at things that way. But that's reality, right?

Make sure to set your DVRs as tonight's match will be carried on FOX Sports Net. They were even plugging it on the Mariners' broadcast last night!


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Checking In

Yeah, I know. The Ax was on the Road last Saturday in San Francisco, yet nary a blog. Mom, please except my most sincere apology, but when you only have 22 hours to work with on a trip to San Francisco, blogging ranks slightly down on the list of things to do.

One thing near the top of the list was heading to The Haight for a photo op at 710 Ashbury, once occupied by the Grateful Dead during the Summer of Love and beyond. The pad once raided by the Feds appeared more suited for yuppies than hippies and had no distinctive markings to signal the amount of groovin' that must have gone on there.

Nik Wald, the Ax Men's cut man, came along for the 'trip' and we each dropped the bulk of our per diem on used discs at Amoeba before trekking the 2.5 miles (downhill) back to the Holiday Inn.

The big news of the trip, obviously, was another Timbers' win; this time racking up three goals while posting their third straight clean sheet. Will California ever score against Portland? We'll find out when the two sides play the final two matches of the season series this weekend at PGE Park.

It's fitting that the offensive outburst took place shortly after a thread on
took aim at the Boys for perceived lucky results and poor forward play. This team may not have the firepower up top of years past (years other than '06, of course), but they don't mask their weaknesses and are still finding success. In the past, the offense often covered flaws in other areas until a scoring drought exposed them. This team is more balanced defensively and in the midfield, and that is clearly an important part of the recipe for succeeding in USL-1.

Timber Jim Bobble Head Night is just two days away! Cheers-

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Timbers Seek Victory Times Three

Quite a finish the other night at PGE Park with the late game-winning goal and all. I'm really glad that I made a point of including "on paper" when referring to Miami as mediocre in the post just prior to kickoff. They are vertically challenged to be sure, but far from mediocre based on what we saw Saturday.

The Timbers and California Victory can thank USL1 dropout Virginia Beach for the wretched triumvirate they are about to embark on. Three straight matches between two sides that don't really like one another a whole lot to begin with is a recipe for mayhem come the second half of the third and final tilt. To make the last matchup even more fun is the fact that the same referee who whistled the U.S. Open Cup match between Portland and Seattle will be charged with keeping the peace.

We're off to NorCal Saturday morning at the crack of dawn and the ATTR hopes to take a stroll to The Haight for lunch and a trip to Amoeba Music. I'll look to avoid anything with mushrooms in order to make sure the broadcast is somewhat coherent. You can tune in at and make sure to click the listen button even if the graphic shows the next game up there instead of the one taking place that night (glitch in the coding).

Until the coffee flows at PDX, cheers.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Miami Hits PDX

We're just about 10 minutes away from air time ( as the Timbers will be going after their first-ever result against Miami FC. The team was in great spirits yesterday morning on the flight back from San Francisco and they could do themselves a huge favor by capturing three points against what appears to be (on paper) a rather mediocre Miami squad.

FC will be starting a newcomer in goal who will be making the first USL-1 start of his career. Portland will try to put him under early pressure, starting with a 4-4-3 formation that is essentially the same 11 players who were on the pitch at the end of Thursday's win.

Join us on the IM tonight, screen name is timbersradio

Until then...

Friday, June 29, 2007

Another Early Day

So far, so good on our brief 24-hour trip to the Bay Area. Last night's match result might pay big dividends later in the season as the Timbers snatched an extra two points on David Hague's goal in the 89th minute to snap a 0-0 tie.

This is the first-ever ATTR post from an exclusive United Red Carpet Club. Let's just say I have connections... Actually, this trip puts me over 100,000 miles flown on United. So far no bells or whistles have gone off in the airport. I guarantee I'm the only one in this club at the moment that drove to the airport packed in a minivan with six other people and all of their baggage.

Miami lost at Seattle last night, meaning they should be rather desperate. The Boys appear ready to get the job done as they remain relatively healthy. Some home cooking certainly won't hurt either.

Boarding time. Until tomorrow - Cheers.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Nearing Match Time

We're about 30 minutes out from tonight's kickoff between the Timbers and California at historic Kezar Stadium in San Francisco. Just a word of warning to our normal listening audience that the pregame and halftime segments will not be anywhere near our normal standard as uberproducer John Strong has NBA Draft duty tonight and I'm without a certain cable necessary for running prerecorded audio. If there is such thing as an "Old School" webcast, it will happen here in the Bay tonight.

Tonight's starters for PDX...
Wicks, S. Thompson, J. Thompson, Knowles, Griffin, Poltl, Kreamalmeyer, Higgins, Gregor, Jordan and Bagley.

On The Road Again

Who doesn't love a 3:35 a.m. wakeup call?! Yes, the Ax is heading out on the road again; this time to San Francisco for a battle with the California Victory.

It's been a whirlwind week for yours truly as I traveled to New Mexico for a wedding, returned home for a day-plus, jaunted off to Seattle for the Open Cup showdown with the Sounders (who may or may not have advanced had it not been for a very curious red card call late in the first half), took in a Red Sox game at Safeco Field, got four hours of sleep at the in-laws before heading off to PDX for a day-of game 6 a.m. flight.

This is going to be quite a test for the Timbers. I'm not confidant that we will be able to check in to the hotel until the afternoon, which means weary soccer players in need of rest will be wandering along the docks of the Bay when they should be catching up on some lost Z's.

I've got to say that this is an extremely tolerable bunch as I haven't heard all that much groaning about the travel conditions for today's match. That attitude could change if the unfortunately named Victory blitz them about 13 hours from now, but I don't see that happening.

Time to board. More from SFO later on.

Good morning!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Benvenuto Milano

What appears to be the most anticipated of the Portland Timbers' three "friendlies" this year is upon us with the nearing arrival of AC Milan Primavera at PGE Park. As always with these sorts of affairs, let's hope for an entertaining event without injury.

Exhibition matches against clubs from other leagues are always challenging from a prediction standpoint. Will it be even, fairly even, lopsided, etc. Tonight's matchup is particularly difficult to peg. With AC Milan attached to this junior side's moniker, they are given instant credibility. But a squad of teenagers playing thousands of miles from home on the bizarre NeXturf surface at PGE Park may as well be playing on the moon.

On the other hand, many of these Italian lads are the future best and brightest (albeit youthful) from one of the most storied clubs in the world. They are all a phone call away from joining the current Champions League victor. Could they be so technically superior that the average USL-1 reserve squad starting 11 gets embarrassed in front of their home crowd? Or will the final result appear as if the Timbers played Alyssa Milano instead?

Word to the wise: Don't google Alyssa Milano in a public place and hit the images tab.

What will be Portland's starting lineup tonight? With a league match on Thursday, you can bet we won't see the regulars playing 90 minutes. But I'd guess most of them see some action in order to knock the rust off from another 10-day stretch away from meaningful competition.

Speaking of Thursday's match - it will be called by my uberproducer John Strong as I head to New Mexico for a family wedding. John entered the real world a few days back and will get to see a really good side in Montreal. The Timbers will look for a win at home, but I'd gladly take a point and call the season series good at 1-0-1.

In second round U.S. Open Cup news, the ATTR will be making the trip up to Starfire for next Tuesday's showdown with Seattle. Unlike round one, the match will be carried live (audio only) at

Well, I'd better get my game face on. Ciao-

Image courtesy

Sunday, June 10, 2007

On our way home

Chalk up the first real road trip of the season as a solid performance by the Boys in Green. Three points out of Montreal and Rochester is more than respectable.

We left our luxury digs this morning 5:30 and are currently laying over in Chicago. It's really ashame that this O'Hare place can't drum up any air business. What a zoo. The gates seem to be designed to seat less than half of the actual number of scheduled passengers on a full flight, so we moved across the concourse to the gate for a flight to Shanghai, and now most of those passengers have to trespass at a different gate.

Several lads are attempting to catch up on sleep - I doubt anyone got more than five or six hours in a row during this entire trip. I feel bad for the rest of the crew as they will have less than a day at home and leave for Southern California at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. Can't say I'm heartbroken not to be heading out on that trip to face Bakersfield in the U.S. Open Cup.

The troops are mobilizing, so we must be approaching boarding time. That will do it for the ATTR on this trip. Thanks for tuning in!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Rochester Prematch

The ATTR checks in from Paetec Park in downtown Rochester. Blue skies above, temps in the low 70s and the Rhinettes (just a guess) dance team is getting a talk from their coach as they struggle to perfect routines.

It appears as though we have arrived before many of the home team players. They had a 3 a.m. wakeup call in Carolina this morning after playing in stifling heat, so they may still be dragging some. According to their radio man, they may be a bit nicked up as well from last night's draw.

Look for a similar starting 11 tonight with the possibility of Tom Taylor breaking into it. Portland's reserves did a tremendous job in the late stages of the second half last night and have really set up the team well to take on this grueling task of two matches in less than 24 hours.

For the second straight night I'm outside of the press box, but the weather should cooperate (touch wood). This is quite a little soccer only grounds and will be even more so once they receive the state funding they have been promised to complete the first phase of construction.

I'm sure John Strong is getting a bit nervous so I'll end her and dial him up to get ready for the broadcast.

Stay classy Timbers fans.

Welcome to Rochester

At 6:30 this morning, 90 minutes after first sunlight, our Montreal motor coach driver Lucy finally steered the metal beast into the parking lot of the RIT Inn, a dank 1.5 star lodging facility well outside the Rochester city limits. This was at least 30 minutes later than it should have been thanks to a wrong turn off the exit. Evidently, the RIT address didn't exist on Lucy's GPS unit, so Chris Bagley pulled a MacGyver and reprogrammed the unit using his New England smahhhts to get us to the motel.

I'm thinking of using my PR skills to rewrite the RIT brochure.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city at our outdated, musty brick estate. Nestled along a highway to nowhere, next to vacant buildings and auto glass repair shops, you'll be able to relax and unwind in virtual isolation. Upon your arrival, you'll be guided to the reception area by overflowing trash cans. Once inside, gently step over the passed out Major League Lacrosse players in the lobby and breath in the acrid scent of two-hour old vomit...

After the keys to the room didn't work, my roomie Nik went back to the front desk to get new ones. Shocker - those didn't work either, so it was my turn to go up to the desk. This time we were given the "master" key. When that didn't work, Gavin went up for us and had them switch us to a different room. That room had only one bed, so it was back to reception for a fourth time. Finally, around 7:30 a.m., I slid into bed. By this point, it could have been a bed of worms and I probably would have been able to sleep.

So here we are at last - awake and 90 minutes away from leaving for the grounds. Remarkably, everyone appears in good spirits. Last night's win certainly took some pressure off, but Gavin will work to have everyone as focused and prepared as possible. Rochester will be in nearly the same boat from a travel standpoint. After drawing Carolina last night in N.C., the Rhinos had a 4:30 a.m. flight back home this morning.

Cheers for now and Go Timbers!

Are You Kidding Me?

Oh, what a night. And now at 3:22 a.m., what a morning. The Timbers picked up a HUGE victory tonight, slaying the last unbeaten team in the first division and now go into today's match with Rochester with one win already in the bag. It wasn't textbook: Being out-shot 15-4 and all, but a win is a win is a win.

And at this moment, we're experiencing the other side of USL-1 soccer: Middle of the night bus travel across borders! Wow, would this be a miserable trek had the match outcome gone the other way. We just made it through the Canadian/US border and have a tidy three-plus hours remaining. Ah ,the eastern Sunrise from a stripped down Greyhound bus! I figured if I was going to blog prior to Saturday's kickoff, it would have to be now as I'll be sleeping from the time we arrive at the hotel until we leave for the stadium.

But back to the match. For those who read the earlier post, you've probably figured out the riddle (Lara on the left, Gregor under Bagley, Dombrowski and Poltl in the midfield). How fitting that lightning struck right as Gregor buried the PK?

We just passed our first car in two hours on some deserted highway in upstate New York. This one will go down in Timbers road trip history. The only other time we arrived on the end of a bus ride after sunrise was a hell-ride from Kelowna, B.C. to Portland after a merciless beatdown by the Vancouver Whitecaps. So yes, this one isn't as bad but no less cruel and unusual.


Friday, June 08, 2007

People Watching on Saint Catherine Street

In a couple of hours the minivans will be headed to the stadium for pregame training, but for now I'm planted in a coffee shop on one of Montreal's famous thoroughfares. It doesn't appear that anyone in this city works for a living, outside of restaurant and cafe personnel.

The streets are nearly overflowing with tourists due to the upcoming F1 Grand Prix race on Sunday. I've seen more Ferrari's in the past 18 hours than the past 18 years. French-Canadians, in their longing to be actual Europeans, love their Formula One.

Plenty of interesting characters to watch on what has become a very warm afternoon.

The Timbers will be wearing their green kits tonight on global TV (Fox Soccer Channel) and yellow on Saturday in Rochester. If you're watching the broadcast on FSC, please give us a click on the audio side at

Portland will have a different 11 tonight than recent matches, but I don't want to give The Impact any advantages in preparation, so you'll have to try and decipher this clue:

Thunder rolls toward the West while lightning strikes south of Boston. Skiing and surfing happen in the heartland.

Cheers and good luck.

Of Montreal

It's hazy and warm here in Quebec's largest metropolis. As I type this, we are about seven hours and change away from kickoff against the Montreal Impact - the First Division's last unbeaten team. Facing the Impact on their home pitch is never an easy draw, but after California (of all teams) win against the mighty Vancouver Whitecaps last night, it serves as just another reminder that any team can achieve a quality result on any given night.

The team is currently out for a stretch and walk to shake off any jet lag. The 17 that are here are healthy and should be more than ready to go after an 11-day hiatus.Thankfully, the match will be played on grass at Claude-Robillard Sports Complex and not at Montreal's much more famous venue, Olympic Stadium, which makes the turf at PGE park look and feel like a lush Bermuda fairway.

I'll need to add more later as we have to be out of our hotel rooms in an hour, left to wander the city for the rest of the afternoon before heading to the match.

Photo credit to David Holden

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bienvenue au Montreal

It's been 13 hours and 25 minutes of travel and the ATTR is firmly on the ground in Montreal, clicking away from the Holiday Inn Express in the Centre-Ville section of the city.

As USL-1 roadies go, we had relatively seamless travel today. Of course, as is standard procedure at this level, we had to wait about an hour after getting our bags before cramming 20 adult males into three minivans. It must look like a bad circus act to the other air travelers to witness this procession. I've clearly been spoiled by my full-time gig working for the Pac-10 Oregon Ducks, where charter buses and four-star hotels are standard fare. But hey, United has switched back to Coke products, which was an outstanding surprise.

My apologies as there was no time for an update from Dulles in the nation's capitol. We had just enough time to grab a bite to eat and listen to the life story of a soldier from Coos Bay, who was shipping off to Frankfurt for final training before heading to Iraq to guard Saddam's former palace. He seemed like a nice enough guy and gave us $36 in food script from United Airlines. He'll be an officer by the time he reaches Baghdad, something his drill sergeant was convinced he didn't have the makeup for. After spending 20 minutes with him I sadly had the same feeling, but he said there was a shortage of officers and as long as he passed a couple of tests it was a done deal.

But enough dire reality, already. This is a road trip involving sports! The Timbers will likely have a new look in their starting 11 come Friday night. Not on the travel squad this trip are Troy Ready and David Hague, while Kiki Lara is. Could this mean more time for Kiki in the midfield? Time will tell.

Well, it's time to get out of my rumpled travel clothes and prepare for some dining out French-Canadian style. Bonsoir.

Road Trip #1

Here we go again. It's been too long between actual Portland Timbers road trips for the Ax to the Road, but I'm happy to report we're back up and running for 2007.

I left ATTR headquarters in Eugene this a.m. at 4:21 and made it to the United counter here at PDX by the required team check-in time of 6:20. That included a car drop off at an off-airport lot and shuttle ride, so not too shabby on the travel time front. I was lucky enough to have a partner in speed up I-5 this morning that happily led the way.

Lots of groggy faces here in the airport. Our party is 20 members: 17 players, Gavin, Nik Wald (athletic trainer) and myself. Our first leg is PDX to Washington D.C., so we bite off quite a big chunk right off the bat. Departure time is 7:50 a.m.

I'm thankful to be able to blog today as I nearly lost a digit last night playing coed softball. I moved in a bit from shortstop with a woman at the plate, which she clearly didn't appreciate, and she proceeded to smoke a screaming liner at me that caught a good portion of the thumb on my bare hand. After I promptly picked up the ball and fired it into a field beyond the first baseman, our pitcher/coach turns to be and says, "Are you going to be able to type tomorrow?" I don't think he is an ATTR subscriber, but it was exactly what I was thinking as I examined my numb and swollen paw.

Well, Nik just said he'd tell the pilots to wait for me, so I must conclude post No. 1 and head to the gate.

Until Dulles.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Are You Ready for Some Football?

Yes, the date is June 6, which happens to be 45 days from the season-opening victory against Puerto Rico. Why does that number matter? Because on the 46th day, the Timbers will board a plane for the first time in 2007. That's pretty incredible.

And what it means is that the stakes are raised from this point forward, as the always challenging USL-1 will become even more so for the Boys in Green. But the most important development resulting from this is the Ax truly returning to the Road for the first time since 2005.

So prepare to be peppered with tales of airport salads, press box antics, etc.

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Game Day

Ah, it's match day once again.

I'm currently going through my prematch routine which includes a coffee shop stop, opponent research and general people watching. Before Friday's game, a gaggle of high school kids were loitering and smoking cigs (have of whom clearly weren't inhaling), and today, sitting in the same chairs at the same tables were about eight police officers. Guess they were about 48 hours late to write up some tobacco use violations.

Tonight should be interesting with a Carolina team fresh off their unlikely win up at Swangard Stadium that ended Vancouver's 16-match unbeaten string. I'm going with 3-1 Timbers.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's Coming...

The ATTR will return in 2007...

Please check back soon as the Boys in Green embark on their first roadie of the season in less than two weeks...