The Anti-Merritt

Yes, I got into the press conference. No, I don’t know if they’ll ever let me in again. No, I’m not terribly worried about it. No, I won’t stop whining about not having an actual press credential. No, there was no spiced IPA.

Okay, here’s the nitty-gritty.

You can get quotes elsewhere. Try Stumptown Footy. The entire thing is posted on the net. Watch for yourself if you’ve got a spare 45 minutes. My notes are terrible. From me, you get something else.

You get me wanting desperately to fall in love with Caleb Porter. And you get me faltering.

Don’t get me wrong. I liked his honesty. I like his slow, careful speech pattern. I liked a lot of the things he had to say.

But a spark plug he ain’t. I don’t think we’ll be getting a clever Alaska Airlines commercial or any snarky soundbites out of him anytime soon.

I’ll trade that for a team that wins games. While Porter hit all the appropriate buzzwords (consistency and continuity and a half dozen others in the same vein), he also offered a starkly realistic view of where the Timbers are headed. And I didn’t like that view. I don’t like realism.

I’ve gotten so used to the rah-rah that Merritt gives us that I don’t really know how to react to Porter’s much more grounded approach to the coming season. It made me… sad. It made me feel lonely and grey and left me wishing for something other than what he’d given us. But he was right about everything. Everything.

Okay, one quote.

I’m realistic. I’m not naive. I don’t believe that we’re just going to throw the ball out and play beautiful soccer and automatically pass the ball around and beat the New York Red Bulls on March 3rd.

I know what he’s saying. I get where he’s coming from. I feel for him. I feel kind of like he’s been invited over for dinner, a really great dinner, and arrives to find a bowl of Grapenuts and a host who spends the entire evening apologizing for the mess.

I keep returning to the build up to last season. So much potential, so much expectation, so much anticipation. I didn’t get any of those same butterflies sitting in that room today.

That comes later, right? When Dike starts breaking people in the preseason, maybe? I don’t know.

I still remain semi-hopeful about the coming season, but without the excitement I’ve felt about the last two seasons. If all else fails (and after such a dreary introduction, I fully expect a fair few hashmarks in the fail column), I know that in a few weeks I’ll be back at JWF with my Timbers family and I won’t have to suffer alone.

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10 thoughts on “The Anti-Merritt

  1. “An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode.”

    It might be healthier for all of us to approach the 2013 season a tad less bipolar than we’ve been.

  2. “I keep returning to the build up to last season. So much potential, so much expectation, so much anticipation. I didn’t get any of those same butterflies sitting in that room today.”

    As Bucky points out, we’ll all be better off keeping a cool head about this.

    Looking back it would have been healthier for us to have been more realistic about 2012, too.

    This time the FO seems to be genuinely trying to deal with those problems (tho I’d like to see some more work on shoring up the backline…) and approaching the coming season with realistic expectations.

    The entire team has been pulled apart and is being reassembled. I’m glad that Porter is being realistic about what this means for the coming season.

    I miss Spenny’s goofy charm, too. But if losing goofy charm means gaining a more professional approach to the game? I’m okay with that.

  3. Thank you for the article. I had similar thoughts after watching the press conference. With Spencer I was like “Wow, I love this guy and want to follow him anywhere”. But with Porter I feel like “Sure, he’s a good coach with a plan. O.K.” Excited I was not. Weird. I know Porter is the right guy for the team, but I haven’t connected with him of yet. (I guess it is good that I’m not suiting up for the team.)

  4. My son and I went to the press conference introducing John Spencer a couple of years ago. They let a few STH’s in, and we were fortunate enough to be there at the Adidas USA campus.

    I even rode the elevator up with Spencer, who called me freddie ljungberg, I assume due to my closely shaved (cough, balding, cough) head rather than any innate soccer skill he inferred in me.

    Having spent the past two years slowly lowering my expectations of quick and easy success for the Timbers, I am more than happy to embrace a coach with something different to offer.

    That being said, my son and I will be there in section 110 every match, and I’ll probably still end up with overly optimistic expectations by the time the preseason tournament rolls around.

    thanks for the article!

  5. Very good article, Kristen. I like your writing style.

    If we stick with the falling-in-love metaphor: Spencer was the sexy, funny, dangerous heartthrob who swept us off our feet, but then snuck out the back door, leaving us with unpaid bills and a couple screaming babies.

    Now, we need someone different. Someone a little less charming, but more reliable, competent, and — in the long run — better.

    We’ve had the bad boyfriend. I’m ready for a guy like this.

  6. TBH I am way more excited about Porter and his style of play than I ever was about Spenny himself. The other teams that my family has followed for generations play with the same passing style; it gives me hope that eventually we shall see beautiful futbol in the Jelly.

  7. Hi,

    I visited Portland last summer and saw a few Timbers games at JWF. Nice atmosphere. I want to keep following the Timbers from my home country, Belgium. We get a few MLS games here, but unfortunately mainly the LA Galaxy (Becksie, you know…). Curious what it will be upcoming season.
    Can anyone of you guys (or girls) give me a good link to a livestream for Timbers’ games? Thank you…
    About the new coach… Personally I think realism is an important quality in football, so wait and see if coach Porter can make the necessary tactical changes to the team. Hope you guys get a few more fast players and minimum two more experienced players (not Boyd!, he’s not financially efficient enough in my opinion.)
    A good start is important so confidence can grow. With confidence attractive football is more likely to be played.
    Go Timbers!

    1. I know how tough it can be to see live Timbers games outside of the States! It was the same story here in the UK – if Beckham or Henry weren’tt playing, ESPN weren’t interested in airing it.

      Generally the nationally broadcast games are available via the “usual channels”, but for the ones that are broadcast locally, your best bet is to keep an eye on the #RCTID hashtag on twitter, or crossing your fingers and hoping a stream will pop up on one of those sites. You could also check out livesport.tv though they don’t make it easy to see which games are broadcast in your country until after you subscribe, but there may be MLS available in Belgium there – worth emailing them to find out.

      EDIT: Also, please no links to sites whose legitimacy is questionable at best, thanks.

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