It is deep in the Black Months now. The rain – and the snow, and ice – has arrived. The trees are bare, the wind blows cold, and, perhaps the worst of all, the pitch down at the old barn on SW 18th and Morrison is empty and silent.
And the damn Sounders are in the Cup Final.
Let’s not forget that it was only just over a year ago that we all were raised to topgallant delight by our Timbers’, and Cascadia’s, first MLS Championship. I don’t think any of us who lived through that mad run up to the Final, and that epic Final match, will forget that season and the joy that came with it.
From Chara’s “Assassin’s Creed” header in LA to the madness of the play-in match and 22 rounds of PKs.
From the cold calculation of the scoreless draw here to the clinical beatdown in Vancouver.
From the wild ride on the FC Dallas bull to the 95th minute Melano dagger to the heart of the beast.
From Diego Valeri’s ridiculously improbable 27-second goal to the final whistle that crowned the Timbers the 2015 MLS Champions.
What a long, strange trip it was.
And now, just as we await the end of the 2016 season and begin to think and wonder about 2017 comes a reminder that it was a stranger, more magical, and less probable trip even than it seemed at the time.
I wanted to take a midweek moment to tip my hat to one of Portland’s newsweeklies.
This week’s issue of Willamette Week is stuffed full of Thorns goodies; a long piece on the relationship between the team and the fans, interviews with the returning Zika Death Squad, and a terrific profile of Nadia Nadim, our Heroine of Herat.
I will quibble briefly with the graf from the long piece that insists that the fans’ love for the team “…has grown stronger, even when the team’s performance has gotten weaker.”
Ummm…are we talking about the same Thorns FC here? The one with the Magic Number of 7? The one currently sitting solidly in second place in the league, still holding the pass to a home semfinal? The one holding the head-to-head wins tiebreaker over Washington, Western New York, and Chicago?
Ahem. Excuse me. Sorry. Kinda lost it there for a moment.
Anyway, I confess to having a certain prejudice against the Willy Week; normally they hardly ever write about soccer. But this week? It’s a WW Thornstravaganza! So, yay, Willy Week!
In the words of MayaTye over at Stumptown Footy…gee, that really worked well, didn’t it..?
The good news is that the Thorns will be getting all of their internationals back except for Christine Sinclair (who plays for bronze this coming Friday). The…well, I won’t pretend that it’s “bad news”. For me, anyway.
And you know what that is.
The Joisey Goils are probably already on their way west while the Thorns’ US players are heading east. Tomorrow we’ll see what happens when our Left Behind Girls in Red get stuck into a Sky Blue that has been looking much more dangerous in the past several weeks than they did back in April.
But that’s not that I wanted to talk about right now. I want to talk about the noise from the North End.
The Riveters signature red smoke to celebrate Portland’s goal.
I always hate it when the person telling you this asks: “Which one do you want first?”
I’ll give you the good news: that’s Amandine Henry there on the left and that’s her U.S. visa in her hand.
That’s right; out long-awaited defensive midfielder is arriving in Portland most quick smart.
To clear a roster spot for Henry Kendall Johnson has been moved to the DL; she’s listed as “not medically cleared” on the 6/10 list. That clears up who’s going to get shifted to make room.
(Selfishly – since for all that I hammered on her pretty hard here last week – I was fairly sure that if the Front Office decided to waive someone (or trade someone for draft picks/international slots) that Mana Shim would pick the black marble. I’m glad she didn’t. But, still…c’mon, Mana. We need to see some Marta from you, girlfriend.)
My next question is; how are the Thorns going to look this coming Friday?
While we’re on hold for the international break, here’s some USWNT pump-up music to occupy you.
Oh, and here’s a picture of Mana Shim gardening.
While we enjoy the sight and sounds, let’s talk about the Thorns’ season to date and peek ahead at the next couple of months.
I wanted to use my awesome power as Thorns FC beat writer for SRP to take one of my pet peeves out for a walk, okay?
Did you notice that the Timbers won the Major League Soccer title this season?
Oh, yeah. Sorry.
So, anyway, I’ve walked around with this tiny, goofy, smile this entire December because of this, and I just realized why because I watched the Men in Blazers talking with the lovely and intelligent Rebecca Lowe last night. Continue reading