Saturday, July 21, 2007

Southern Comfort for Los Timbers?

While SoccerballnationUSA focuses squarely on the Beckhamista non-event in Los Angeles, where Chelsea will lose to the LA Galaxy 2-0 in between appletinis and Posh and Bex will be seen sitting in the stands wearing sunglasses, actual competitive football remains underway elsewhere. Our beloved Portland Timbers (whom I have seen exactly once this season...I'm blaming the Kid for this, as will be my practice henceforth) take one of their difficult road swings through the USL First Division's southern outposts. The Atlanta Silverbacks—a team named for gorillas, which is pretty cool—and the Charleston Battery await. The latter fixture reunites the Timbers with formerly talismanic Portland forward Byron Alvarez, who is having a decent campaign with his new Dixie-fied club.

As Portland members of Calcio Amerika will be aware, the Timbers are currently TOP OF THE LEAGUE, a whopping five points clear of mighty mighty L'Equipe Football "Impact" du Montreal, the perennial Franco-Canadian power that typically runs away with the USL table before bottling it in the playoffs to allow the Richmond Kickers or someone through. Best part is, the Timbers still have a private reserve of games in hand over all the clubs that matter. Worst part is, about half Portland's points came against the utterly gash California Victory, a team the Timbers, in an innovative scheduling experiment, played five bloody times.

So the question is: Are the Timbers on the real tip, yo? A win over ever-tough Cascadian rivals Vancouver provided something of an answer, but for my money whether Gavin's Kids can squeeze some points out of these cross-continental away days may be more definitive. Dare we limber up for post-season fun at PGE Park?

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