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...