Thursday, July 29, 2010

Speaking of John Bain

The other day I was noting that John Bain provided a possible model from the Timbers' past for why John Spencer might be a good choice as the team's first MLS coach.   In 1989 the Portland Timbers' franchise launched its Western Soccer League campaign with Bain as the head coach.  Underwritten by local businessman Art Dixon the team was looking forward to a strong run against opponents like the Seattle Storm and the San Francisco Blackhawks.   Part of coach Bain's enthusiasm was that a new star of American soccer,  the young Kasey Keller would be in the nets for the team following a successful run with the US U20 team and his career at University of Portland.  Bain called Keller the best goalkeeper in the US. Prescient!  Dave Nicholas,  whose coaching career at Jesuit High School has been stellar,  was the assistant coach for the team.  And a bevy of Pilot and Warner Pacific stars provided the underpinnings for the team.  Bain's appearance wearing his iconic #6 on the cover reflected his stature in the eyes of the community and of those wanting to bring the team back to prominence.   
The Western Soccer League had evolved from the Western Soccer Alliance which started in 1985 with San Jose, Seattle, Portland and Victoria fielding teams in a 'challenge series'.  One of the fundamentals that marked WSL was that American soccer would not succeed until it was built on a foundation of American players.   Bain,  Ignacio Baez (of Timbers and Cascade Surge fame) Paul Goldsbrough from Blackburn England and Rob Baarts from BC were the only players not from the US on the squad.  
Interestingly,  Bain was featured as well on the cover of the match program for the Portland Timbers match against West Bromwich Albion eight years earlier in 1981.   

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

And you thought you knew soccer....

According to a piece on the ever-evolving rules of the game by Neil Reynolds and published some decades back,  "In 1895 legislation was introduced limiting posts and crossbars to five inches in width.  The previous season, Middlesbrough had set a new record low of only two goals conceded at home because their posts were over three feet wide!"   Exclamation point mine.   Could be much more dangerous around the goal box as well if there's that much wood to hit.   Who woulda thunkit? 

Timbers v AC St. Louis match streaming live

Once again it is apparently possible to stream the Portland Timbers match tonight via the opponents webstream. Game starts shortly after 5PM our time,  so it's conveniently early.   The only bad thing of course is that it is unfolding almost head on head against the MLS All Star match against Man United.   What to do?  What to do?
I think I can probably stream one on my laptop and the other on my desktop....that might work.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

John Spencer? Hard working. Scotsman. Leader. Familiar profile

The speculation that John Spencer will come on board as the Timbers first MLS coach cites his passionate, hard-working style and notes his Scottish roots starting with Rangers and going out after a short run at Motherwell back around the Millennium.  Before his stint in Houston,  Spencer put in time with the Colorado Rapids as a player.  He had notable moments such as an Independence Day hat trick against DC United,  the first in Rapids history.   Today's newspaper profile asserts that he's noted for fierce loyalty to his players-- gesturing his disagreement to fans who were taunting Brian Ching.    
A Spenceresque profile might suggest that he'd be a great success here.   Back in the late Seventies,  John Bain came to the NASL Timbers from Bristol Rovers and never looked back.  A smart attacking midfielder,  Bain clocked forty-five goals and-fifty five assists in his outdoor career in Soccer City USA.   He played in 148 matches for our side and was a fan favorite.   When the outdoor Timbers suspended play in '82,  Bain ended up floating around the country for outdoor and then indoor teams.  However,  he returned to Portland as the player coach of the WSL Timbers which was launched on the foundations laid by FC Portland---a story for another day.  The revival didn't last long but Bain's stint in Portland continued for one more round with the indoor Portland Pride.  
My recollection of Bain, besides his origins,  is that he evidenced many of the qualities being highlighted for Spencer.   Bain was a smart player who was dynamic and hardworking on the field. He had a nose for goal.   He motivated his teammates.   I recall the crowd and the play on the field all ratcheting up a notch when Bain leapt out of the box and entered the fray.  He was intense and focussed about the game.   And he'd seen enough of it in enough settings that he wasn't fazed by the competition.   Bain never played for his national team,  but he had great poise.   Spencer's experience not only includes national side appearances abut a stint in Hong Kong.  To the extent that Spencer shares Bainlike qualities,  I think he's a strong pick.
One side note occurs to me.   Spencer's impatience with the negative behavior of the fans in Houston is likely to be in evidence here in Puddle City if the North Enders chew on members of the team.  While rare, it has happened.   And I doubt Spencer would take it lightly.   
Truth be told?  I like that.   

Monday, July 26, 2010

US U20 Women lose to Nigeria

The curse of the penalty kicks strikes again.   The US Women's U20 side playing in Augsburg Germany was eliminated in a shootout loss to Nigeria after playing to a 1-1 tie in 120 minutes.  The U20 US team has never been eliminated before,  so this was a shocker.   Not to take a thing away from the Nigerian team,  which played hard, fast and strong,  but the penalty shootout was a puzzler.  The US keeper,  Henninger,  was forced to face the second Nigerian shooter three times.  The first two she stopped,  but,  obviously frustrated,  she missed the third shot.   The end was sealed when LeRoux,  the US sharpshooter, missed her kick.  Once again it's a hard hard way to end what was an attractive struggle between two well-matched teams.   

Two players from Portland, Kendall Johnson of UP and Courtney Verloo of Stanford were on the US roster.