The Portland Timbers and Why We Love Sports
Monday, November 09, 2015
Because that game was simply magical.
How do you put words to a game like the Timbers played last Thursday night against Kansas City? Words like “thrilling”, “exciting”, and “heart-wrenching” simply do not do justice to the roller-coaster ride that the city of Portland was taken on throughout the evening. From the joy of Rodney Wallace's 57th minute goal to the heartbreak of Kevin Ellis' response in the 87th minute; the drama of Ellis, Krisztián Németh, and Rodney Wallace all scoring goals and all committing arguably red-card-worthy offenses; the feeling of dread after Németh's strike in extra time and the elation of Uruuti's 118th minute response.
And the penalty kicks. Oh, the penalty kicks.
I've watched soccer for over 20 years now. In fact, one of my first and most vivid soccer memories is being completely riveted by the penalty shootout between Brazil and Italy in the 1994 World Cup Final. In all that time, I've managed to avoid having a true rooting interest in a penalty kick shootout until Thursday.
I now finally understand why it's known as the cruelest way to end a match.
Like Darlington Nagbe, I could hardly stand to watch. Every Timbers miss felt like a punch to the stomach, while every Kansas City miss that followed was a reprieve. Sporting's Jon Kempin, who isn't even the best goalkeeper on his own team, suddenly looked like the best keeper in the league. Watching Kansas City's Ellis and Saad Abdul-Salaam walk up with a chance to win the game felt like sitting in the electric chair waiting for someone to flip the switch, only to have those glorious North End posts call it off at the last possible second.
But it wasn't until Abdul-Salaam's penalty somehow, someway hit both posts before bouncing out that I really felt like Lady Luck maybe, just maybe, was wearing a Timbers Army scarf that night.
Sports have a funny way of making us all feel and act like children again. Often times, this brings out the worst in us; cursing the children of a referee who blew a call against your team, getting in actual fights with rival fans, running naked on the field; none of these can be considered “mature” by any definition. But nights like Thursday reveal the unbridled, child-like joy that sports is capable of giving us, and that is why we watch, why we cheer, and why we always come back for more.
The last time a moment in sports affected me so deeply was in 2011, when Brandon Roy summoned one last magical quarter in a Blazers uniform to bring Portland back from 23 points down against the Dallas Mavericks. Even four years later, watching highlights of the game give me goosebumps and I still well up seeing Roy's post-game interview.
The Blazers didn't win the title that year; in fact, they wouldn't win another game. But the memory of Roy and that comeback will stay with me for many years to come.
The Timbers can still win it all this year, making that game all the sweeter; but even if the Timbers fail to advance beyond Vancouver on Sunday, the memory of The Rose City Miracle (credit to Stumptown Footy) will live on in Timbers lore forever.
I've been a sports fan all my life. In that time, I've rooted for champions, lottery teams, and everything in between; I've seen amazing performances, costly letdowns, and shocking results in what feels like every way imaginable.
But Thursday was magic. Sports made me 10 years old again, lying face-down on the floor with one eye peeking out, because I couldn't bear to watch, but I couldn't miss a second.
Thursday was why we watch sports, and why we always will.
Related Slideshow: 12 of the Greatest Sports Movies of All Time
Hank Stern ranks his top twelve favorite sports films.
#8 The Longest Yard
Not the remake with Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. But the hilarious original with Burt Reynolds and Eddie Albert as a wonderfully villainous warden who pits the guards against the inmates in a grudge football game that includes former Green Bay linebacker Ray Nitschke and other ex-football players like Sonny Sixkiller and Joe Kapp, both stalwart Pac-8 quarterbacks long, long ago.
- Timbers One Game Away From Champions League Quarterfinals
- Timbers Look To Control Playoff Destiny
- Timbers Record 3rd Consecutive Victory
- Timbers Shift Into Playoff Contention
- Timbers v. Alpha United: A Chance To Advance
- Timbers Tally Victory In Stoppage Time
- Timbers Eliminate Sounders From the U.S. Open Cup
- Timbers Draw LA Galaxy 2-2 with 90th Minute Mayhem
- The Portland Timbers’ Guide to the Final Week of MLS
- Standing (And Flying) with the Timbers Army
- The Timbers And Whitecaps Draw at 1-1
- The Timbers Dismantle The Sounders
- Timbers Cruise Past the Houston Dynamo
- Timbers Better Buckle Down
- Timbers v. Earthquakes: Three Things We Learned
- What Portland Timbers Coach Caleb Porter Needs To Do In Year 3
- What Is Happening To The Portland Timbers?
- What To Watch For From The Portland Timbers
- Who Deserves The Captain’s Armband: Timbers v. Earthquakes
- Will Fanendo Adi’s Struggles Doom the Portland Timbers?
- Why The Timbers Won’t Make the 2014 Playoffs
- What Does “Targeted Allocation Money” Mean for the Timbers?
- What Does Signing Lucas Melano Mean for the Portland Timbers?
- Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake: 3 Things We Learned From The Timbers’ 0-0 Draw
- Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake: 3 Things We Learned From The Game
- Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Three Things To Watch
- Timbers’ Offensive Firepower Balanced by Defensive Woes
- Spotted In Portland: Patrick Stewart is a Timbers Fan
- Ronaldinho Heading to MLS: Could He Be the Portland Timbers’ New Designated Player?
- How Should the Portland Timbers Use a Healthy Diego Valeri?
- How Could The U.S Men’s National Team Benefit From Portland Timbers’ Darlington Nagbe?
- How They Stand: Portland Timbers Update
- Insult to Injury: Blazers Fall to Lowly Timberwolves
- Numbers to Know: Timbers v. Real Salt Lake
- Jack Jewsbury: Timbers Fans Are Key to Soccer Team’s Success
- Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs. New York Red Bulls
- Five Thoughts On The Timbers’ Schedule
- Blazers Topple Tanking Timberwolves
- Battling Stomach Bug, Blazers Top Timberwolves
- Bumps and Bruises Will Define Portland Timbers’ Early Slate
- Defensive Lapses Doom Timbers
- Diego Valeri’s Back: What does it mean for the Portland Timbers?
- Diego Valeri Steps Up For The Timbers
- PBOT Urges Timbers Fans to Bike, Walk, or Take TriMet to March 7 Game
- PLAYERS GRADED: TIMBERWOLVES 90, BLAZERS 82
- Portland Timbers Switch Up Lineup, Smash Seattle
- Portland Timbers Sign Lucas Melano
- Portland Timbers Unable To Capture Second Victory
- Portland Timbers vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Match Preview
- Portland Timbers: Highlights And Lowlights So Far This Season
- Portland Timbers’ Report Card: Who Excelled and Who Flunked?
- Portland Timbers Pick Up Michael Seaton From D.C. United
- Portland Timbers Just Can’t Seem to Get Out of Their Own Way
- Portland Timbers Draw Opener, Provide Flashes Of Better Things To Come
- Portland Timbers Draw on the Road Against San Jose
- Portland Timbers Fall to the Vancouver Whitecaps
- Portland Timbers Fall To Their Northwest Rivals
- Portland Timbers Hit Rock Bottom In Honduras