Monday, July 25, 2016

SC Germania- New Information about soccer champions

This photo of a photo shows the SC Germania Soccer team sometime after 1976.   They are pictured with the legendary trophies of Oregon Futbol which had been handed down since the 1920s.  The round globe on the pedestal and the two-handled cup on the right are respectively the Cameron Cup and the Bennett Trophy which have only resurfaced in recent years.   The Johnson Cup, another legendary championship cup is also pictured.  I have to confess ignorance about the specifics of the modern hardware--I know these trophies existed up until recent times but I don't know what the specific cups look like. 

The photo was sent to me by Juliet Dwyer,  the daughter of Steve Pataki, who's the white-shirted gent in the front row.  Juliet will be getting back to me with more information about her dad,  SC Germania and amateur soccer in Portland in the 70s.  

I had my first experience watching soccer played as it was supposed to be played in 1975 at Civic Stadium when the Timbers franchise launched.  I'd had a rough introduction to the idea of the game in 1969 as a PE class at Portland State--an elective.  The first class was held in the mud at Duniway Park where scores of college students with no idea of the game squared off in two teams and began chasing the ball.   The instructor,  who was the football coach,  was out there running around with us.  I ended up taking a direct hit to my upper calf in a challenge for the ball and was carried back to campus with my leg hemorrhaging
subdural blood.  I never got another crack at the class as I was purple from the knee down for weeks.  These experiences led to my signing up for a PP&R summer recreational program in 1977 and the beginning of my own soccer career.  

I look forward to discovering more about Steve Pitaki and his teammates in future posts.  These players were the torchbearers of the game for many years.  Germania, in particular, was notable because they had existed before the war but understandably were not active  during the war years.  After the war,  Germania returned under the auspices of the Germania Sports Club and continued to be a powerhouse into the 80s and beyond. 

Monday, May 30, 2016

John Milne Donaldson and the Portland Soccer Football Champions of 1925

The history of soccer in Oregon and Portland in the distant past is sometimes deeply murky and so it is, that when a moment of that history is illuminated,  it provides a spotlight on a snapshot of how robust the game has been.   

Patrick Donaldson, a local Portland business leader, has occasionally shared found records from his grandfather's career as a champion footballer in the early years of the 20th Century.   

Most recently, he sent me this previously unknown photo of the PSFA Championship team from 1925.   The team, The Camerons, were sponsored by passionate soccer supporter "Pops" Bennett.    

Bennett, with Judge George Cameron, was a significant figure in Portland's early soccer landscape.  The Bennett Cup and the Cameron Cup were competitive trophies in Portland in the early century. Judge Cameron was at the time a controversial figure in probes of vice and illegal liquor sales.  As a former District Attorney, City Council member and later Municipal Judge, Cameron was a target of city reformers.  

Apart from these issues, however, Cameron was a purist in his support of soccer. He supported leagues and teams and individuals in the 1920s and his creation of the Cameron Cup sparked a "Holy Grail" quest eighty years later to discover what had become of this substantial symbol of early Portland soccer.   

In the photo of the 1925 Champions,  John Milne Donaldson is at the far left in the front row.  
Notably, the photo shows the Cameron Cup, the central one with the orb,  the Bennett Cup, the cup with the ear like handles,  and the individual player trophy,  small and echoing the orb.   The trophy on the far left is not clearly defined.  (for more on these trophies and the detective story recovering them , see the March 2011 posts on this blog). 

We who play the game, love the game, support the game here are the descendants of those who set the stage nearly a century ago.   When we sign or say RCTID,  I hope that our vision includes these long ago players and organizers and coaches and supporters of the beautiful game.   

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How great it is!

to see a young player begin to make his mark.   Darlington Nagbe  who has been a hard working and effective player for the Portland Timbers (may he take the pitch for us for many years to come) is beginning to come into his own.    This past week he hit two significant marks.  

A dazzling ball handler and distributor in the Timbers' midfield,  Nagbe has scored goals but has not been prolific.  He has much more often been the engineer behind the finishing touches.   In the Timbers' intense dustup with the Vancouver 'Caps last weekend,  Nagbe scored on a lovely free kick  to help the Timbers to a solid win.   Called up to the National Team immediately after,  he stepped onto the field in the second half of the US warmup vs Ecuador on Wednesday night.  The statistics say a lot.   He made all of his passes, a tribute I think to his talent and to the schooling under coach Caleb Porter.   Precision and poise.  And in the end,  he was there to score the winning goal , his first for the US and a critical one in his career. 

My guess is that these two strikes signal that Nagbe is ready to become the great player that all his many, many fans think he's capable of becoming.  He's gotten a reputation as the most-fouled player in the MLS and yet he's patient and even-tempered.  He's talented but is quiet about his talent.  What sport would not want to honor such a player as a role model and exemplar of what the game is intended to be?  

I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing the next chapter. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

Portland Timbers win MLS Cup in Columbus Ohio 12-6-15

Timbers are victorious in 2-1 final against the Columbus Crew, winners of the Eastern Conference and considered to be one of the most balanced and dangerous teams in the league.   I don't have any brilliant insights into this match which won't be written about by hundreds of others.  My reason for writing this post is simply to commemorate the moment--a long time coming for many many people who have been in the stands over the forty years since that first match in 1975.

That year,  the team marched from a June loss at home in the rain against the Seattle Sounders to take the Western Division title with a one game lead over the Sounders at the end of the season.  Post season pitted the teams again,  and 'the lads' in green won 2-1 in overtime on a goal by Tony Betts, a crowd favorite, cut in the mold of Will Johnson.  Ticket sales for the playoff games skyrocketed as high as 33,000 and the local press marveled at the site of people sleeping out in a queue at Civic Stadium to get their tickets,  particularly to the St. Louis Stars semifinal match which was decided on a goal by "the Wizard of Nod" Peter Withe.   The wins put the Timbers into the NASL Championship which was played in San Jose against the Tampa Bay Rowdies.   Sadly,  the Timbers lost that August 1975 match 0-2.

Since then, despite various iterations of the club and team through subsequent years,  there has not been a Championship.  Until today.

Several things shine out for me.   I watched the match today with two of my own longtime teammates and their spouses,  with my youngest son and his son.   None of that might have happened were it not for the Timbers from forty years past because I think none of us knew diddly about the game called soccer. Because of the Timbers,  I began to explore the skills and strategies of the game.  I was 25 years old, not an athlete,  somewhat opposed to jocks and jock culture.   I got a soccer ball and started going to a nearby park with a tennis court and practicing passing and trapping,   with both feet because that's what I heard the Timbers' coach say was important.   I didn't know anyone who played soccer.    In  June 1977,  I got an invite to show up for a 'soccer jamboree' at Delta Park which would lead to a recreational, Portland Parks summer league for people who were interested in the game.  I found myself on a team for the summer which morphed into a men's league team in the fall.   SJO Irregulars,  sponsored by Seton Johnson & Odell became the foundation for FC77, a club which has been fielding men's teams in a range of divisions for 38 years.   And most of those men, probably would not be playing soccer if it were not for the '75 Timbers.

Notable things about this legendary win by the Timbers. Diego Valeri's pressuring run on the keeper is the only time I can recall such a result.  I've seen keepers strike the ball into an onrushing attacker and give up a goal,  but never much a surgical 'no' as Valeri delivered.   This goal will be viewed on YouTube for decades.    The second goal by the Timbers clearly started from a ball that was in touch but neither the linesman nor the center registered that fact and when it was clear that there was no whistle,  Portland played forward,  catching Columbus flatfooted and leading to Wallace's goal.   Okay I get that it's 'not fair' but the primary axiom of the game is 'play the whistle'.   The Kamara goal that followed might have involved interference with the keeper but perhaps not.

The reality is that in the rest of the match, despite Columbus discipline and control,  the Timbers were the more dangerous side.  And if officiating were to be raised as an issue,  the clear handball on the goal line by Parkhurst--arm in unnatural position and looking at the ball as he deflects it,  should balance out the ball in touch in the first half.   The Timbers had two shots on the post, and Borchers' shot into the ground saved by Steve Clark's thighs speak to the effectiveness of the Timbers' attack.

The Boys deserved this win.  They scrapped and played hard and earned it.  And in my mind,  they are a team just finding their form.   So I am hoping, deeply, that the club sees this group of players  as the core for the future and looks to their potential growth as a squad.   These Timbers are worthy of everything dreamed of through the past four decades.

"We're gonna do what they say can't be done!"   Timbers Army.