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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First Aid Football - AFR Voice Ep. 35

This week, we look at some of the most important medical matters in the game. Ben gets to grips with first aid training specifically for the football environment, and interviews the professional instructor behind a course aimed at grass-roots player. We also report on the latest study that reveals the significant problem of depression and alcohol abuse that torments an increasing proportion of football players, both current and recently retired.

On the pitch itself, we lick our lips at some very enticing Champions League quarter-final ties, asking whether Manchester United’s ‘backs-against-the-wall’ approach plays to David Moyes’ managerial strengths, how Chelsea can replicate their 2012 heroics to stage another miracle recovery, and why two thirds of the pod fancy Atlético Madrid to just edge out Barcelona at the Calderón.

In the domestic leagues we cast our eye over the latest Premier League sacking – that of Chris Hughton at Norwich City. Is the late change fully justified or is simply closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? Meanwhile across the Atlantic, we gawp and gasp at an incredible first instalment of this season’s Cascadia Cup – a chance to admire Clint Dempsey’s goal splurge and - thanks to Eric Beard's #whereisfootball Instagram snap - inadvertently discover some sensational Portland Timbers merch.

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AFR Voice Ep3 - Exploring Israel’s Lower Leagues 

The AFR Voice team have trekked all over the globe once more this week - making sense of Jose Mourinho’s cautious tactics at Old Trafford, questioning the ethics of Manchester City trying to buy a club in the A-League and hailing the phenomenal attendance at the Seattle-Portland Cascadian derby. The latter was the scene of this week’s #whereisfootball winner and proudly adorns our cover art for the next seven days.

All that audio travelling pales into insignificance compared to photographers Gad Salner and Vadim Tarasov, who have clocked up hundreds of actual miles to explore the lower-leagues of Israeli football.

In an interview with Gad, we hear how the pair went about compiling a set of photos that powerfully depict the grit and spirit at the bottom of the footballing pyramid, and its ability to carve through political and social tensions. There’s a film in the works too.

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The Real Theater of Dreams

When talking about soccer, we all have a tendency to get a bit overwhelmed by transfer budgets, sponsorship contracts and wage allowances. The modern game is one dominated by a never-ending news cycle that’s difficult to avoid; one in which is cynicism has a certain inevitability. But while FIFA officials and fascist fans conspire to drag us down, soccer remains a children’s game; a fact that was made clear in Portland this afternoon.

Teaming up with the Make-A-Wish foundation, the Portland Timbers gave 8-year old Atticus Lane-Dupre, who was diagnosed with Cancer last fall, a moment in the spotlight. Alongside teammates from his local youth soccer side, the Green Machine, Atticus was invited to Jeld-Wen Field for a scrimmage in front of more than 3,000 fans against a group of select players from the Timbers starting eleven.

Backed by flares, signs and a variety of G-rated chants, the Green Machine took down the Timbers 9-8, with four goals coming by way of Atticus himself. Don’t let the television coverage or blogs fool you: the heart of soccer emanated from the Pacific Northwest today.

Check out the photos above (video here) and let me know whether it’s just me, or if AFR headquarters are especially dusty this afternoon. [Posted by Maxi

MLS x Futbol Artist Network

With Major League Soccer returning in about two weeks, the league collaborated with our friends at the Futbol Artist Network, using the anticipation from fans to garner a fair share of creativity. The result was a piece of art for each club in MLS, designed by fans for their respective communities. While we posted the best designs (in our opinion) above, you can check out the whole collection with information about the artists and their pieces here. [Posted by Eric]

Timelapsing and Tilt-shifting in Portland with the Timbers.

To be honest, I’m a little disappointed. However, the disappointment doesn’t lie in the video. Rather, I’m disappointed in all the photographers and filmographers living in Portland because it took over a year for a Portland Timbers timelapse and tilt-shift video to arise. I mean, don’t people from Portland instagram their daily fair trade coffee rituals and timelapse the clouds during lunch breaks? Maybe that’s just the bit of me that has seen Portlandia talking and stereotyping the entire city’s habits.

Anyway, in the home opener for their second season in the show that is MLS, the Portland Timbers were finally captured in the artistic nature that I expect from their fans. On the 21st of March, Jeld-Wen Field was rocking in the pouring rain, while supporters sang the national anthem and filled the air with #RCTID tweets. [via TOR]

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