Sunday, July 2, 2017

The best, most passionate soccer happens in the Lamar Hunt Open Cup

In the round of sixteen, it's not unusual for MLS sides to face off against an occasional upstart from USL or even lower divisions.  The Lamar Hunt Open Cup is notable in encouraging hopeful teams in the wide universe of American soccer to take a run at glory.  In this 2017 campaign,  the FC Cincinnati vs Chicago Fire match in the round of 16 was a bright moment supporting that concept.  After defeating the Columbus Crew in an earlier round,  Cincinnati stepped onto the field against one of MLS's hottest sides.  Chicago Fire are running hot in the MLS table atop the Eastern division. And they met their match in the Cincinnati team led by keeper Mitch Hildebrandt.   The game went to PKs and the Cincinnati side came out the victors.   The win puts them up against the other Cinderella team, Miami FC.  And at least one non-MLS team will advance to the next round after.  

I think this is a great tradition.  Worthy of our staunch support.  Soccer like many other sports has been enriched by the successes of unheralded champions.  If that ever stops,  the game will suffer.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

As a followup to my earlier post about Marco Farfan  there’s been a long tradition of soccer players coming out of Portland's eastside.   While  East Portland (folding in Gresham and Troutdale and Fairview)  has only a quarter of the city's population, homegrown players joining the Timbers' ranks have often come from this economically challenged part of our community.   
In addition to Farfan,  at least two other soccer notables have come out of Centennial High School.  The school, opened in Oregon's centennial celebration of Statehood,  has been the alma mater of notables in other competitive arenas.  U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, for example, is an Eagle. 
Going back to soccer though, Scott Benedetti is a great example. Playing at University of Portland in the 80s,  Benedetti made his mark coming out of FCPortland, an organizational attempt to build a sustainable soccer organization in our region which continues to this day. He played for the reincarnated Portland Timbers of the late 80s and closed his career with the team at the beginning of the 21st Century.    
Another soccer notable who came from the same East Portland background was Josh Cameron who graduated from Centennial High School and played for the Portland Timbers.
Other local players pulled on a Portland Timbers jersey from other parts of the metropolitan area over the years, but this cluster of Centennial High School standouts is a reminder that the oft-neglected East County has much to contribute to Portland Pride and RCTID.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A homegrown Portland Timbers defender from East County!

Marco Farfan is an extraordinary figure in Portland's soccer history.  Starting this year with the Timbers' first team at left back, a position woefully hard to fill after the departure of Jorge Villapa˜na for Liga MX,  Farfan has been a solid performer-settled, smart, and unintimidated by the exalted setting.   What is most extraordinary is that he is only 18 and is still attending Centennial High School when he's not battling opposing players in the MLS.

Farfan is not the first professional Timbers' recruit from East County.  Scott Benedetti played at Centennial HS in the 80s, graduated to University of Portland and then joined the semi-pro FC Portland team going on to play for the resurgent Timbers and the Colorado Rapids in the USL.

Farfan has the potential, in my opinion, to be one of the best left backs ever for the Timbers, but also to become a standout on the US National team.  This profile suggests what a wonderful, ordinary kid he is,  despite his extraordinary talent.

You heard it here--maybe not first but early.   He could be great.   And that's a shout out for all the people of East Portland who often feel like they are deeply undervalued.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Barcelona Comeback v PSG not quite legendary.

Barcelona comes back to beat Paris St. Germain in Champions League play. The Catalonian side had gone down an extraordinary 0-4 in the first leg of their matchup with PSG.  This week they returned to Camp Nou for the second leg and pulled out a 6-1 win to advance on aggregate.  I tuned in to the replay because I love to see Barca at their best and I had heard about the result on 'the feed'.  

I was ready for a legendary comeback game.  And who doesn't love a comeback?  Not to mention that it's unheard of to comeback from a four point away deficit and win.  Has almost....well never...happened.  When all was said and done,  I was less than happy.  I had seen some wonderful and passionate play.  But the Spanish side won on the strength of two penalty kicks.   The first, in my opinion, came off a completely dubious call.  Neymar went down because of the trajectory of the falling PSG defender who was already in mid-collapse before Neymar even got close.  The second penalty was less clear but not a hard foul.  Either way,  the resolution of this game was not legendary in my opinion.   

I wish that it had been.  And I'm happy to see Barca go forward.  There will not be many more chances for this particular crew,  who are pretty legendary,  to make their mark on soccer history.