2010 was a different year than most. Particularly for the Timbers as it was our last year in the USL/NASL second division league. In many ways it was a sort of transitional period where the FO was testing its players to see if they would hold up the following year in MLS.
But let's rewind a bit. As we head into 2011 tomorrow, allow me to take you back through all the major points in Timbers history for 2010. It was actually a pretty exciting year...
Those that were around earlier this year, were caught up in a singular story regarding the Timbers: would there even be a 2010 season? For those that weren't fans back then, or for people who forgot, earlier this year the Timbers league (USL) was suffering from a bit of a rebellion by a handful of teams which had broken free and established a new league called the NASL (after the now defunct North American Soccer League). Neither side had enough teams to field a full league. Fortunately, just a few days into the new year, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) stepped in and brokered a deal creating a temporary USSF D2 league that would allow both teams from the NASL and USL to play against each other.
Another spotlight in January was the unveiling of Gavin Wilkinson as staying on with the team for MLSa. Wilkinson was confirmed to be our Technical Director beginning after the conclusion of the 2010 season.
Finally, January was also when some of the basic foundation work began on PGE to prepare for the oncoming construction beginning in September of 2010.
February was actually a very exciting month for Timbers fans as it was when the Portland city council finally approved the MLS deal as well as the final reconstruction of PGE. Prior to this there were still debates going on primarily between Amanda Fritz and the other city council members.
Beyond that it was also when the upcoming 2010 USSF D2 schedule was released as well as the month we signed James Marcelin from Haiti and Ian Joy from Real Salt Lake, the former of which will be joining us in 2011.
Later in February the Timbers played a friendly with the University of Portland's Pilots soccer team for charity with over $8,000 being donated to Haiti relief funds.
Only one piece of news was really notable in March as the Timbers beat the Seattle Sounders in a pre-season friendly called the Community Shield at Qwest 1 - 0. I don't think there could have been a better way to kick off the season than by thoroughly wiping the floor with Seattle.
Aside from that March was a month we continued to build and prepare the team for the 2010 season. The stadium was also put back together for the upcoming season.
Finally, the Timbers Army officially founded the 107ist (Independent Supporters Trust) as a way to formally introduce a membership to the TA. This was actually a momentous movement for the TA as it truly brought our supporters group up to the same level as many of the SGs in Europe.
The season kicked off in April with the Timbers winning three of their first four games. Many people had us as a lock for winning the league as early as April, although as we all know that didn't turn out to be the case. The only team we didn't beat in this run was the Montreal Impact who we tied with in Montreal.
It was actually a great month for Timbers fans as it would be a while before we were playing consistent again.
Off the pitch, April was also when our current forward Bright Dike joined the club. Dike would go on to net us 10 goals for the season.
May was a rough month on the field for the Timbers. We lost to Crystal Palace Baltimore twice, tied with AC St. Louis, and lost to Montreal at home. With regards to the regular season, there was actually very little to enjoy.
The lone bright spot in May was our decisive win over Argentina's premiere club Boca Juniors in front of a packed house at PGE.
June was just as rough as May in regards to playing in regular season matches. While we tied the Austin Aztex away from home, we lost to both the Carolina Railhawks and Miami FC. The lone bright spot in regular season play was our singular victory over FC Tampa Bay.
Outside of the regular season we actually had a pretty good month. We won two very important US Open Cup matches allowing us to face off against our arch rivals up north the Seattle Sounders in the US Open Cup match for the second year in a row. Unfortunately, while our guys put up one hell of a fight, the Sounders eventually won on penalty kicks sending them on further into the tournament.
June also saw the unveiling of the Timbers MLS crest, much to the chagrin of many fans who saw the crest as an over simplified, cartoony crest which represented nothing of the Timbers or Portland. It didn't help that a design firm from Mississippi created the thing.
July was the month where it seemed like our on field antics were finally starting to solidify. While it certainly wasn't a flawless month we were able to tie and beat Vancouver (tie at home, beat away), win against Miami FC, and tie against FC Tampa Bay. Our singular loss for the month came from AC St. Louis who solidly beat us 3 - 0.
The other summer bright spot in July came from a friendly against English Premiere side Manchester City who were training at Nike HQ. The game was played at Merlo Field and was ultimately won by Manchester 3 - 0. Still, as far as friendlies go, you don't get much bigger than Manchester City these days.
August 4th would mark the last time that the Timbers would lose in regular season. It was an away game against the Rochester Rhinos. From that point on all future games were either ties or wins. August in particular saw us tie at home against NSC Minnesota, win away against AC St. Louis, win away against NSC Minnesota, tie at home against league leaders Austin Aztex, and win 3 - 0 at home against Crystal Palace Baltimore. Overall, it was a fantastic month for the Timbers as we finally found our form which would lead us to the 2010 play-offs.
Off the field the Timbers had announced that John Spencer, the fiery Scot that was assistant coach to the Houston Dynamo would lead the Timbers in 2011 as our head coach.
September would continue the Timbers form on the field with a home win against the Puerto Rico Islanders, an away tie against the Carolina Railhawks, an away win against the Puerto Rico Islanders, and an away win at Crystal Palace Baltimore. Overall three wins and a singular tie brought us up to the top echelons of the league. Prior to playing the Carolina Railhawks the team had earned its berth into the play-offs.
September also saw the arrival of Khalif Alhassan from Ghana. Khalif made an immediate impact with the club with hs amazing goal against Puerto Rico.
Off the field, the Timbers announced their 2011 MLS side kit and club sponsor would be Alaska Airlines. While many were hoping for a Widmer or Rogue sponsorship, I don't know of anybody that was displeased at have Alaska help represent us.
This was also the month when the real construction of PGE would begin. With the conclusion of the Beaver's baseball season, the construction company rolled right ion to begin building the east side seats.
The last game of the regular season was held on October 2nd in a 2 - 2 tie against rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. While we had made it to the play-offs, we would eventually fall in a home and away series 2 - 1 on aggregate against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
With their season over, the Timbers immediately signed Steve Cronin, Ryan Pore, Eddie Johnson and Bright Dike to their MLS side.
As the club prepared for it's inaugural MLS season, November was first highlighted by the retiring of club legend Scot Thompson (S-C-O-T Scot with one T!). For many Timbers fans, Scot will forever remain a Timber.
November also brought us New York Red Bulls defender/midfielder Jeremy Hall in a trade for our third round SuperDraft pick.
Finally, at the end of the month the Timbers took part in the Expansion Draft, drafting 10 players, of which only 5 remain today. I participated in and represented the Timbers FO in SB Nation's own mock Expansion Draft. I was way off...
Mere hours after the Expansion Draft had ended the Timbers traded first round pick Dax McCarty to DCU for defender Rodney Wallace, a controversial trade.
Finally, we come to December, the final month in 2010. December has been a busy month for the FO as we signed Kerrea Gilbert from Arsenal, as well as four additional players from our USL side in James Marcelin, Mamadou "Futty" Danso, Kevin Goldthwaite, and Khalif Alhassan. We also traded our own goalkeeper Steve Cronin for DCU's Troy Perkins, another controversial trade and one that I didn't necessarily agree with.
December also saw the unveiling of our MLS kits. Fan reaction was mostly positive with many people instantly falling in love with our "Rose City" secondary kits that forgo the use of our club's primary colors in a nod to Portland's Rose City heritage.
December is also when we learned about our first matches of 2011 and that the Widmer Brothers brewing company would be staying on as a founding partner for the team.
So, there you have it, our year in review. As you can see it was actually quite busy on and off the field. Preparing to enter into MLS makes for a busy year, I suppose. That said, however, I wouldn't expect 2011 to be any quieter as we'll most certainly have much planning and preparing to do as we head in our first ever MLS season.
Have a Happy New Year!
Oh and if I forgot something feel free to sound off in the comments.