1) This might seem a little weird, but these days, when I watch a Timbers game, I actually think quite a bit about this column. I know I’m going to have to write it, so as I watch the game, up there in the stands, I start planning the column in my head, thinking about what I’ll say. And, I gotta tell you, at Saturday night’s game against L.A., my thoughts were not good. Up in my part of the stands – section 218, with its charmingly obstructed view of the north-end goal – I was bitching with my section-mates Randy and Tyus. We were all incredibly frustrated the entire game. As we complained, I began writing this column in my head. Here are some of the key points I knew I’d have to make:
- On the whole, LA was the better team all night long.
- They completely took us out of our game.
- When they attacked, they had four or five guys in the box. When we attacked, we had two guys, maybe three.
- We kept giving it back to them. They’d attack, we’d survive, then give them the ball. Repeat ad naseum
- Our passes were just a little off all night long.
- They seemed faster all night. Better fitness?
So that was going to be my column.
2) I’ve been to a lot of sporting events in my life. I’ve never seen a crowd lose its damn mind the way we did after Beast’s goal. Never. People were jumping up and down, slapping hands, hugging, practically crying. I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple babies were conceived during those few insane moments. And the noise? Oh my God, the NOISE. The Timbers always have a great crowd. Always. But Saturday night, it turned into something else. It was like we morphed into some kind of giant screaming monster. None of us were entirely human.
And it wasn’t just the crowd, either. The team almost killed Beast, they were going so nuts. The players were jumping on him, the bench was jumping on him, I’m surprised the COACHES didn’t start jumping on him. If you didn’t watch the video above, do so now, because the best part’s at the very end, when Frederic Piquionne and Ben Zemanski are running around like a couple 12-year olds. Two grown men absolutely FREAKING OUT. Priceless!
3) Well, because of that ending, this column has to change, right? I can’t bitch too much, right? After all, we won the game. Suddenly, the Timbers aren’t a pathetic bunch of losers. Now they’re scrappy fighters, full of piss and vinegar. (note: I have no idea what this expression means, but I’ve always liked it…)
So here’s what I’ll say: maybe the Timbers weren’t bad, maybe LA’s just good. Maybe they’re a team that matches up well with us. Both times we’ve played them, it’s been super, super tight. Maybe this is just two evenly-matched heavyweights trading shots, each hoping to land a knockout blow.
In our first match-up, down in California, we couldn’t land the haymaker. This time, we did. In our third and final game with LA, what will happen? I predict a bloody mess. Just like on Saturday.
4) I suppose I could go on and on about how bad the officiating was. I could give a long list of mistakes. I could talk about how me and my section-mates lost track of how many players had yellow cards. I could even make a few always-amusing bong-hit jokes. But I won’t do that. I’ll just make a quick statement: maybe I’m the only one who feels this way, but I absolutely love booing the ref. It’s totally fun. In fact, he doesn’t even need to be all that bad. I’ll boo him anyway, just for the pleasure of it.
I’d like to thank Major League Soccer for continuing to employ poorly-trained, barely-competent, borderline-criminal referees. You’ve given me so many happy hours of booing.
5) Some quick player notes:
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – Even before Beast’s goal, I was all prepared to talk about his improvement. I swear. I went through a period of not trusting the guy on D, but he’s really changed my mind. He’s looking totally solid back there.
Ryan Johnson – Would you people get off his back already? Why does this guy get absolutely no respect? He’s leading the team in goals! He’s third in assists! He runs his ass off on defense, harassing the goalie, harassing the back line. And yet everyone wants Piquionne or Valencia. What does Johnson have to do? Sprout wings and fly?
Donovan Ricketts – Dear Lord. This guy is unconscious. The play where Zardes was all alone? No one between him and the goal? I honestly wasn’t all that scared. I mean it. I knew Ricketts would do something awesome. And he did. (and I thought the crowd was loud after THAT play. I didn’t know what loud really was…)
6) Finally, I want to talk about the atmosphere after the game. There’s always a good number of fans who stick around the cheer the team as they circle the field and lift their log slices. But on Saturday, EVERYONE stayed. And cheered. The entire time. And then afterwards, we all went outside the stadium and just wandered around for awhile. Were you there? It was fabulous! It felt like I was back at Mardi Gras. People were singing cheers, waving flags, dancing to street musicians, hi-fiving strangers.
This is why we love sports. Because of times like Saturday night, when we become part of something bigger than ourselves. When we stop being 20,000 individuals, and instead morph into one gigantic screaming monster.
Thank you, Timbers. I won’t forget it.