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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The Québécois soccer lifestyle: Montreal Impact x Off The Hook

While we try to maintain impartial in this vast world of football, there are some clubs that just do things right. Over the past few years, we’ve seen the Montreal Impact rise with their rich Québécois tradition. We’ve captured their Stade Saputo when it was covered in a foot of snow. The city comes from 100 football-loving cultures, and for every brutal defeat there has been a 3-0 victory to celebrate.

The club has collaborated with Montreal’s urban lifestyle outfitter Off The Hook. Since 1999, the boutique’s owners have been passionate about the Impact. This collaboration aims to provide Montreal Impact fans with a stylish garment collection to show their support of the city’s soccer team. Check the collection (and an incredible vintage Impact rap) here.

United Rebuild - AFR Voice Ep. 38

On last week’s show the rumours of David Moyes’ departure from Manchester United were building dramatically. Seven days on and the Premier League Champions (at least for a few more weeks) have undergone some seismic changes. We speak to ESPN FC journalist and self-confessed United fan Mark Lomas to get his opinion on the rather ungraceful sacking of Moyes, the very romantic appointment of Ryan Giggs as caretaker manager and the very entertaining prospect of Louis van Gaal taking over next season.

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Jersey? Sure. - AFR Voice Ep. 30

With Jersey Week in MLS now in full swing, this week’s podcast is getting into the spirit of things by delving into the delights of the highest footballing fashion that 2014 has had to offer so far. We’re talking Portland’s exquisite third kit, San Jose’s 40th anniversary rebrand, as well as the finest kits that will be gracing this summer’s World Cup. And once again, the Dutch have not let us down.

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Aimar Footballer, Get Me Out of Here - AFR Voice Ep.29

We may still be a few months away from the World Cup in Brazil, but the draw for the tournament that will see Europe’s finest pit themselves against each other in two years’ time has already been made. On this week’s show, we’ll be trying to get out heads around the new-look Euro 2016 draw, complete with France playing in a qualification group despite hosting the tournament itself, match schedules that club managers will lose sleep over, and new boys Gibraltar making their debut in competitive international football.

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Man City’s Empire Expands - AFR Voice Ep. 26

With Patrick from AFR Voice currently travelling through Australia, it was only right we paid an in-depth visit to football down under. Featuring an interview with Football Central AU’s Ahmed Yussuf, we discuss Manchester City’s purchase of Melbourne Heart and look at the eye-wateringly difficult group the national side have to navigate in Brazil – Spain, Holland and Chile. Gulp.

The Spanish national team itself also gets covered as we reflect on the passing of Luis Aragones – the founder of ‘tiki-taka’ football and former Spain coach who turned a group of under-achievers into a beautifully ruthless winning machine. Whilst in the Iberian Peninsula we greet the unusual site of Atletico Madrid at the top of the table and cast our eye over revamp design for the Bernabeu – a futuristic world class facility or a big silver Tupperware depending on how you look at it.

All that plus we herald Libya’s fairytale victory in the African Nations Championships and look on at Leeds United with a mixture of bemusement, fear and intrigue as they get set to be purchased by one of the most unpredictable, impatient and eccentric owners in world football.

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Toronto Turn The Tables - AFR Voice Ep. 23 

There were two huge stories in football this past week – the crowning of Cristiano Ronaldo as the latest Ballon d’Or winner was one. We certainly saw that one coming, and we’ve dutifully doffed our cap to the Real Madrid colossus as a deserved winner, despite a late challenge from Messi’s fabulous red satin suit.

What we didn’t see coming was Toronto FC breaking the bank to simultaneously secure the signatures of top players Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley. To get fan reaction in Toronto and find out whether this massive financial gamble is likely to be remembered as reckless or a stroke of genius, we spoke to Managing Editor of Canadian Soccer News, Duane Rollins.

In Europe, we charge our glasses to Benfica for honouring the passing of Eusebio with a rare win against rivals Porto. Elsewhere, AC Milan had the good grace to appoint their new manager just hours before recording, which means we you’ll get our straight out of the oven first reaction to Clarence Seedorf taking the hot seat. The serial Champions League winner was a massive favourite with the Rossoneri, but will that goodwill be enough to paper over the complete absence of managerial experience?

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Thought Trails: Expectations, the Media and Moving to MLS

In one week, Toronto FC have managed to sign Jermain Defoe, one of England’s best strikers, and Michael Bradley, arguably America’s best player at the moment. It’s a coup for Toronto, a shock to many, and everyone has something to say. 

Maxi: If you had asked me a few years ago how I felt about MLS offseasons, I would have raised an eyebrow and said something along the lines of, “…M..L..S…offseason..?” For as long as I can remember, MLS offseasons were a time period frequented only by devoted beat writers and the sort of committed fans who created Excel spreadsheets stockpiled with information on the most unknown college soccer player from Blackfoot, Idaho. As the league has grown, so too has interest in that painful period between seasons, and in the last week, we might have experienced one of the most significant periods in MLS history: both Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe, players of a recognized, international stature, are moving to MLS, and the implications are widespread.

Eric: Implications cause ripples. Implications create thousands of opinions. At this point, it might not even be possible to create an original thought about Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley’s big (or little, depending on your perspective) move. Major League Soccer has, once again, shaken up the generally accepted narrative of how things work in “the world of football”. Globally recognized footballers go to MLS when they want to retire… except, ugh, wait… something just doesn’t make sense. Sure, MLS may be getting better and dozens of world class players may be asking Thierry Henry and David Beckham what it’s like living in cosmopolitan cities and doing what they love for a living… But it can’t be that simple. You know what?

Jermain Defoe doesn’t know what Jermain Defoe is doing, according to me. I may know very, very little about Jermain Defoe’s personal thought process, yet thousands of people who also know very, very little about Jermain Defoe agree with me. As for playing in MLS? It seems like everyone who knows the league well likes this move; therefore, I need to trust the unbiased opinions of people who know very, very little about MLS. That must be the solution here, right?

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Lifting Cups and Groups of Death - AFR Voice Ep.18

In the last week, football in the US has received its fair share of drama – the national team was drawn in a ‘Group of death’ for the 2014 World Cup and we witnessed one of the most dramatic MLS Cup finals in recent memory. Who better to provide analysis (starting 24 minutes into the show) than former USMNT international and Kansas City defender Jimmy Conrad? Jimmy, who you can enjoy plenty more of on the brilliant KICKTV, told us about the unique experience of playing at a World Cup, as well as identifying the secrets of Sporting Kansas City’s recent successes on and off the field.

That exclusive interview is accompanied by our very own debrief of the highly anticipated World Cup draw, including a look at the chances of the big boys – Brazil, Spain, Holland and Argentina. And, lest we forget, the official ball of the tournament was announced last week – we give our take on the ‘Brazuca’ and reminisce on our favourite World Cup balls.

All that plus a Bundesliga round-up, news of a goalkeeper joining WWE and our outrage that Zlatan has been snubbed for the Ballon d’Or shortlist.

Keep an ear out for next week’s Christmas Show Special, featuring a hint of cheap champagne, questionable festive jumpers and acclaimed journalist Guillem Balague, who will be discussing his new book, ‘Messi’ – an in-depth and illuminating study of the life of… well, the clue is in the name!

This week the #whereisfootball project takes us to the hills and mountainsn of Bhutan, where Yeji Hyun caught these breathtaking shots.

Remember, you can get in touch with the team by emailing afrvoice@gmail.com, or on Twitter @AFRvoice. You can also find us on iTunes here.

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