Soccer players never get tired of playing the game.

That’s what this page is all about.

Where your FIRST TOUCH SOCCER book ends, the FREE KICK page begins.

It’s a chance for you to learn more about the Timbers … and for me to talk about some of the great stories I couldn’t squeeze into the book.

Scroll down to get the latest news … and to learn more about American soccer. And check out some of the cool collectibles I have in my home.

Enjoy this site, check back whenever you like, and contact me with any questions or comments.

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Breaking News

Larrys Mabiala
(© Panini)

What’s up with the Portland Timbers

September 3, 2020: Midfielder Diego Valeri scored against the LA Galaxy to become the third person in MLS history with 80 goals and 80 assists in regular-season play. Valeri joined Landon Donovan and Jaime Moreno in the “80-80” Club.

2020 Season Preview: Diego Vieri returns for another season in Portland and should enjoy playing with newcomers Felipe Mora and Jaroslaw Niezgoza. Diego Chara is still one of the best defensive players in MLS and this year he will play alongside his younger brother, Yimmi.

October 19, 2019: After a 14–13–7 regular season, Portland lost in the opening round of the playoffs to the San Jose Earthquakes. Jeremy Ebobisse and Brian Fernandez teamed up to give the club a high-scoring front line, with midfielders Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri ranking among the best set-up men in the league.

August 11, 2020: The Timbers beat Orlando City FC in the championship game of the “MLS Is Back” tournament, 2–1. Defender Dario Zuparic scored the winning goal for Portland.

September 22, 2019: The Timbers and Minnesota United tied 0–0 in a game that featured a whopping 49 shots. It was the most shots ever taken in a scoreless MLS game.

May 25, 2019: The Timbers finished a 12-game road trip with a 3–1 win over Philadelphia. It was the longest road trip in MLS history.

May 31, 2018: Samuel Armenteros scored a spectacular goal against the Colorado Rapids to earn MLS Goal of the Week honors for the second week in a row. One week earlier he netted a dramatic long-distance game-winner against L.A. FC.

2018 Season Preview: The Timbers look to build on their first-place finish in the West under new manager Gio Savarese. MVP Diego Valeri will lead Portland again along with newcomers Samuel Amrenteros and Andy Polo, and captain Liam Ridgewell.s

September 24, 2017: Diego Valeri became the first MLS player to reach 20 goals for the season. Goal number 20, against Orlando City, was his 10th in 9 games.

May 29, 2017: The team made headlines by signing defender Larrys Mabiala. He will replace injured center-back Gbenga Arokoyo. Mabiala is a member of the national team of the Congo and was captain of the Turkish club Kayserispor.

Major League Soccer & the MLS Cup

MLS Cup
(© Major League Soccer)

  • The Timbers are members of Major League Soccer (MLS), the top soccer league in North America. MLS played its first season in 1996 with 10 teams. In 2017, MLS had 22 teams. Each club plays 34 games in the regular season, followed by the playoffs. The MLS schedule stretches from March to December (including the playoffs). Most pro leagues around he world begin in the fall and end in the spring, leaving time for top players to compete in summer tournaments, such as the World Cup.

  • Much like other U.S. sports leagues, the MLS clubs with the best records compete in postseason playoffs. The winner of each conference advances to the MLS Cup, the league’s one-game championship final.

Collector’s Corner

Diego Chara
(© Portland Timbers)

Nat Borchers
(© Topps, Inc.)

More treasures from the author’s collection!

  • Fanendo Adi — Forward
    2014–2018
    At 6’4”, Fanendo Adi has towered over every defender who has ever tried to mark him. He used his size and quick feet to average a goal every two games for the Timbers.

  • Diego Chara — Midfielder
    2011–
    Portland fans fell in love with Diego Chara the first time he stepped on the field. Small, tough and clever, he was able to break up plays on defense and score goals on offense.

  • Rodney Wallace — Forward
    2011–2015
    Rodney Wallace was one of the big heroes in Portland’s 2015 championship run. He was a valuable attacker in the playoffs and his first-half header was the deciding goal in the Timbers’ 2–1 victory in the MLS Cup.

  • Nat Borchers — Defender
    2015–2016
    Nat Borchers provided brick-wall defense during the club’s 2015 run to the MLS Cup. His leadership and his skill on corner kicks helped the Timbers raise their game to championship level.

Fun Facts

Gavin Wilkinson
(Photo by Wilson Wong)

Did You Know?

• Portland has had a total of four soccer teams called the Timbers. The first played in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1975 to 1982; the second played in the Western Soccer League from 1985 to 1990; the third played in the United Soccer League from 2001 to 2010.

• The only U.S. born player to lead the MLS Timbers in goals was Kenny Cooper (Baltimore, MD), with 8 goals in 2011.

• As of 2017, the Timbers have had just one general manager, New Zealand native Gavin Wilkinson. A general manager runs a club’s business. Wilkinson also coached the Timbers briefly in 2012.

• Portland’s 2015 MLS Cup was the first major sports championship for the city since the Trailblazers won the NBA title in 1977.

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