Where The Average Weekend Is Anything But: Portland and The Timbers Army

Photos captured by Jordan Beard

Over the past week, Portland, Oregon was situated right on the middle of the global game’s map. From Thierry Henry to Mario Götze, icons and phenoms were filling the streets as the MLS All-Stars welcomed Bayern Munich to town. We were at Providence Park for that match, and it was great. But it wasn’t Portland.

The stadium was packed to the brim and full of fans from overseas, but it wasn’t Portland. So, we returned to see this city’s side play Chivas USA to take in an "average game" and witness the atmosphere that the Timbers Army and company could create.

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Welcome Home

As another summer winds to a close, club football returns to English cities and towns. And while much of what makes that significant happens on the pitch, the signs of the beautiful game’s return can be seen even more poignantly in the elements that surround the match.

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Watching People Watching The World Cup

You’ve seen the thousands of photos of goal celebrations, player reactions, and crushing images of fans sitting alone in stadiums. Photographer Jane Stockdale decided to take a different approach. She jumped on a plane to Brazil to shoot audiences, not matches.

There were packed beaches. There were desolate bars. Her project, Watching the World Cup, shows the month of madness in a refreshingly human light.

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All good things - The AFR Voice World Cup Final Special

All good things must come to an end, even heart-stopping endlessly entertaining World Cups. It’s time for the pod to sign-off for the summer too. We’ve recorded over 45 shows this season and few will be sweeter than this – the chance to reflect on a tense, emotionally draining but ultimately fulfilling World Cup final.

There’s a stream of praise for Mario Götze’s sumptuous winner, André Schürrle’s super-sub antics and, above all, the humble team ethic and youth development system that underpinned a richly deserved night of glory for Joachim Löw’s “Jungs”.

On the flip side, we mourn an evening of missed opportunities for an Argentinian side who were so nearly dragged over the line by their talisman of the tournament…and it’s not Lionel Messi.

As we turned the final audio page on the tournament we reflected on the World Cup as a whole – the goals, the games, the personalities, the shocks, the atmosphere and the Tim Howard memes that have made us weak at the knees and besotted with Brazil for the past four weeks.

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We’ve waited four years for this weekend - AFR Voice

And then there were two. With two equally compelling semi-finals from the opposite ends of the footballing spectrum now complete, we now know that it’ll be either Germany or Argentina taking a 6.1kg, 36.8cm high World Cup souvenir back home with them.

One side that most certainly won’t be in the Maracana on Sunday is the tournament’s generous hosts. Join the pod as they discuss how things went so horribly wrong for Brazil, the ruthlessness of a German side of have tasted big game defeats so frequently of late, and where the game in Brazil goes from here.

It may have not had all of the drama of the other semi, but nevertheless Argentina did just enough to make their way to the tournament’s final hurdle, and end Louis van Gaal’s reign as Dutch coach on a bittersweet note. With the world’s attention turning to Lionel Messi and the bizarre scenario of the little man being forced to forge his own legacy at the ripe old age of 27, the guys weigh up Argentina’s chances against Germany, and give some very much less than convincing predictions for Sunday’s showpiece event.

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Brazil vs. Germany, without Brazil

Brazil didn’t show up against Germany. So, naturally, here are Germany’s seven goals against Brazil in an alternate universe where Brazil literally didn’t show up.

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And then there were eight - The AFR Voice World Cup Review

It may have got a whole lot tighter in the second round – six matches hit a 0-0 stalemate at half-time – but the drama in every dying minute of both regulation and extra time, or every game, was truly breathtaking.

Exhibit A was the Unites States against Belgium – a match which put USMNT fans through the full gambit of emotions. They came up just short but put in a courageous performance that will live long in the memory of all football fans, no matter their affiliations, or indeed their location.

To break down the game and the colossal swell of support that lifted it to seminal heights, AFR contributor Nathen McVittie joins the pod. Fresh from a trip to Brazil for AFR, he also shares his experiences from the eye of the tournament’s storm, with tales of entire neighbourhoods coming alive for the greatest show on earth. With Nathen’s Atlantic-straddling background, there’s a discussion on quite how powerfully the USMNT’s heroic World Cup campaign can impact upon the American sporting public’s psyche, as well as another dose of late night viewing with the London chapter of the American Outlaws.

With the Tim Howard eulogising finally coming to an end, the guys cast a broad eye over the tournament – assessing the major headlines to come out of the last-16 fixtures, and make their predictions for some mouth-watering quarter-finals.

Amidst heat maps that looked fit for an avant-garde art exhibition, they tackle a flurry of ensuing questions - Will James Rodriguez put Neymar in his shadow? Will Messi continue to drag Argentina one step closer to glory? Will Miroslav Klose bag that record? And most importantly of all - will Costa Rica’s fairy-tale journey continue against a hot-and-bothered Holland?

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The World Cup Week 2 Review - AFR Voice

It still feels like it’s only just started, and yet half of it has gone already - but my word what a World Cup it has been so far. After fully submerging themselves in Brazil 2014 for another week, the pod take a moment to come up for some air and look at what has happened so far, and what could happen as the groups comes to their conclusions.

In the wake of Luis Suarez getting up to his old tricks and Italy joining the ever-growing list of European casualties at this tournament, it’s the South and Central American teams who seem to be making it their own. We also take a look at Brazil’s stuttering start, potentially the end of an era for Spain, and of course the subject of everyone’s favourite Vine, Mexico boss Miguel Herrera.

With England packing their suitcases after a delightful week-long stay in Rio, the gents from the pod were in need of new allegiances - and where better to find in a traditional British boozer. Boosted by their thrilling opening-game victory, the newly formed London chapter of the American Outlaws were in fine voice for the crunch Group G clash with Portugal, and the pod caught up with a few of their members to hear tales of the joy of beating Ghana, and sharing beers with Jürgen Klinsmann in Bosnian hotel bars.

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More Than Just a Flag
The World Cup is often portrayed as an event that brings a diversity of countries together, but it’s not just the teams, so much as the diverse people who make up each of those countries.
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Regardless of color, creed, or orientation, we’re all fans, and we’re all family. [Posted by Nathen]

More Than Just a Flag

The World Cup is often portrayed as an event that brings a diversity of countries together, but it’s not just the teams, so much as the diverse people who make up each of those countries.

Read More

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