They’ve interviewed players of both the Timbers and Thorns; fans, both home and away; an author; the Timbers’ chef. They record segments at stadiums; on airplanes, buses and cars; in bars; and abroad. They have a super computer AI named Sambot who does zany analysis. Their on-mic chemistry is on-point like an Abbot and Costello duo, building off each other’s jokes and giving each other just enough room to speak before jumping in without interruptions or long, pregnant pauses. They have so many running jokes and references that, almost three years into the show, they had to do an episode explaining them for the newer listeners. Their MLS fantasy league has already kicked out seven members since the start of the season, because they altered something about their teams when the only rule of the league is to “set it and forget it.” They have written theme songs for the intro (which has flavor changes almost every week), as well as for segments such as “Analogy Talk,” or “Using One Thing to Describe Another,” and “The United States of Ameowica,” which is narrated and written by an 11-year-old Timbers fan nicknamed the Ghost of Jeanderson. They are JP and Zippy, and their podcast is called Soccer Touchdown.
You don’t listen to Soccer Touchdown for deep analysis of the beautiful game—you listen to be entertained. The longer you listen and the better you get to know the hosts, the more entertained you become.
One of the many great things about the show is its variety from episode to episode. Some episodes take you into the stadium, where you become immersed in the experience, hearing the background buzz of the crowd and the conversations with fans that are very much in the moment. Sometimes, Zippy—who travels internationally for work—attends games abroad, such as an episode where he saw an S League match in Singapore. Other times, JP and Zippy take the Timbers Army bus to a Seattle match (where they first meet the Ghost of Jeanderson), or, as in their most recent episode, take young GOJ with them to the Cincinnati match, where they bring the listeners along on a tour of film locations of the 1993 rollerblading movie, “Airborne,” and try the local delicacy, Skyline Chili (and mostly regret the decision).
Since the show’s inception at the beginning of the 2016 season, the show has continued to evolve and improve. In 2017, they began to produce in-depth and intimate interviews with members of the Timbers and Thorns, starting with Zarek Valentin. Since then, they’ve also featured Jeremy Ebobisse, Vytas, Foster Langsdorf and Mana Shim. Valentin returned for a second time last November. Other interview highlights include Aaron Button, aka Longscarf, a member of the Timbers Army who spends the winter knitting a new Timbers scarf for the coming season, and Rich Meyer, team chef of the Timbers and Thorns.
JP and Zippy have created a window into the Timbers Army and Portland soccer community, and as you continue to peek in from episode to episode, you begin to be a part of their ongoing inside jokes and references until, eventually, you find that the window is really a door, and they have left it open for you to come in and join the party. Make sure to listen to one of my favorite episodes, The Blood, which is a great example of how these inside jokes and references are born.
Now, without further ado, I introduce to you JP and Zippy, with a cameo interview by the Ghost of Jeanderson. They talk about the paths that led them to becoming Timbers fans, the creation and production of the pod, and other thoughts.
An interview with JP:
The show has really evolved since its inception. I feel like nothing demonstrates that more than the theme song.
JP: We try to change it from time to time, and subtly. When we did the Caleb Porter episode, we just made the whole intro Caleb Porter. We like it to reflect our interests and the continuing themes, like the fact Chabala’s goal is in there, because Zippy likes Mike Chebala. The whole premise of the show is that it’s a joke. We’re making light of being soccer fans in America. Being a soccer fan in the US has been painful for a long time, and we’re entering this renaissance of soccer in America. I grew up where there was no outdoor league, and I had indoor soccer, which is what I grew up on. I remember being starved for the game.
Since you were a kid you’ve been into soccer and have actively sought it out?
JP: Yeah. When I was a kid, I grew up in San Diego, home of the San Diego Soccers, the most successful indoor soccer franchise in the history of indoor soccer. My grandpa took me to games. He had second-row season tickets. These guys were like superstars to me. Players like Hugo Perez, who I used to watch and got to meet a few times, because my grandpa was friends with some of the players. Like, for instance, Fernando Clavijo, who just passed away. He came to the U.S. as a Uruguayan. He played in like ’88-’89, and I thought he was amazing. We loved Fernando Clavijo, and I got to meet him.
My family, for whatever reason, has always been a soccer family. Probably, it has to do with my grandfather being interested in the game. Growing up in San Diego, it’s a border town, and he had friends in Tijuana, and somehow he bridged relationships with a lot of people involved in soccer. There was a time when NASL was this new thing. It was like this burgeoning new sport, and he caught onto that and really went in.
Unlike a lot of people who are into soccer having a unique ethnic background, most of my family’s been in the U.S. for a long time. We don’t have this interesting immigrant story. I had to get my DNA tested to figure out where I’m from. We were always like this weird outlier. I’d go to school having just seen the Soccers win another championship, and I’m super pumped like I’d just seen the Super Bowl, and the other kids were like, ‘What? I don’t know anything about that.’ For me, it’s something that I’ve sought out ever since. In a lot of ways, I think of my fandom today as a way to pay homage to my grandfather to keep his memory alive. I watched MLS arrive (in 1996), and at that time, San Diego didn’t have a team, but there was the LA Galaxy. I’d go up there on occasion and watch a game.
The ’94 World Cup was a great experience for me, because as a kid I got to watch the U.S. play against Romania and see the likes of Gheorghe Hagi. Could you imagine being in the Rose Bowl—90,000 people, a packed house—and seeing the wave? That was very much a bridge with the international community who was there to see World Cup soccer games in the U.S. It was a very weird world cup. The wave was just going for minutes on end at World Cup Soccer. Seeing the US Men’s National Team in their denim kits going out there and trying to actually complete. It was insane.
Unfortunately, the infrastructure for playing soccer as a kid in the United States just isn’t there, so I played rec-league soccer, which meant every fall I could play in like 12 games, and we would practice once or twice a week. That’s all I did. For the rest of the year, I would practice on my own. There weren’t pickup games in my neighborhood. I didn’t grow up in a Brazilian favela where there are games happening around you all the time, so I would go across the street to the elementary school and kick the ball against the wall for hours on end, and juggle in my back yard, but you’re never going to become an elite soccer player doing that alone. If I wanted to play in a club, that was for rich kids. I was not a rich kid, so it would have been unfeasible. It’s funny, I even held a grudge against my parents for not enrolling me in club soccer, because, ‘I could have gone pro, man.’
When I think about what I did as a player just playing rec league for 12 games a year, and then just practicing in my back yard, I made it onto the college squad, and I got to compete with those guys. Obviously, I was a little out of my league, but I could hang. I would go out and play pickup with some really good players, and I could hang out. There is an element to just independently developing your game and your touch, and sometimes people would see me juggling or just playing around with the ball and they’ll be impressed. They’ll say, ‘whoa, where did you play?’ and then I’ll say, “well, wait until you see me play on the field,’ because I have no vision. I have not developed the other aspects of my game.
I can’t tell you how many times my parents told me not to kick the ball in the house. I would be watching TV and juggling the ball, trying to see how long I could keep it up.
A lot has changed since the early days of soccer in America.
JP: At age 40, you have an appreciation for what it was like not having a soccer team to watch. Today, you’ve got youngsters who are elitists about soccer. ‘I will only watch Premiere League or UEFA Champion’s League.’ They don’t realize that there was a time in our country when we did not have an outdoor soccer league. To me, when MLS came into existence and it came out as this single entity, it was for the purposes for trying to survive. The idea was, single entity is the best business model for this thing to have a chance. Maybe it hasn’t resulted in the most scintillating soccer with the biggest names in the world, but it’s a gradual process.
Are you still going to pickup games?
JP: I’ve been playing over-30s, and then I’ve taken a one-year hiatus now, because at age 39—rapidly approaching 40—a body just cannot take the abuse. It’s been a remarkable year in that I’ve woken up and gotten out of bed without moaning in pain. I don’t know if it made it into the interview with Foster Langsdorf, but I was talking to him about that, how today when I play it’s just painful afterwards, and he was kind of surprised. He was like, ‘what?’ and I said, ‘yeah, you’re not going to be 22 years old for the rest of your life. Every time you get kicked, it has a cumulative effect.’
How did you and Zippy meet?
JP: When I first moved up here, I started working as an ICU nurse at Legacy Immanuel and met another nurse there who was—this town is so small that, automatically she knew me—she says, ‘Oh, hey you know Todd? He told me to look out for you. You need to meet my buddy, Zippy. He loves the Timbers.’ So we met at a game, and next thing that you know, we’re superbuddies, hanging out. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, but I had mentioned that I had always wanted to do a podcast, and he was like, ‘oh yeah, let’s do it.’ He’s a cinematographer, so I don’t think he’s intimidated in the same way others might be in doing something where you put yourself out there.
Talk about the early days of the show.
JP: Early-on, we set out to be a different soccer podcast, because what inspired me to make a podcast was I work nightshift and I needed something to listen to while I was managing my two intubated and sedated patients. I would have my phone in my pocket just lightly—low volume—playing various soccer podcasts over and over. I had a buddy I worked with, and I told him I was pondering starting a podcast, and I asked him, ‘what do you think makes for a good podcast?’ and he said, ‘let me think about it and I’ll get back to you.’ He got back to me and he said, ‘I think for a podcast to be successful, it has to be ear candy. It has to be enjoyable to listen to.’ Contrast that with most of the podcasts I listen to, they have really bad audio quality, and they’re like an unedited Skype call between four dudes, you know?
I love them. I listen to them anyway. I listen to a lot of soccer podcasts. Soccer by Ives—it’s just him talking into his phone, just rambling. They all lack production value, but it’s because they’re not produced. They’re just some dude with a microphone. So it has to be ear candy—pleasant to listen to—and it has to be enriching, so you have to be able to take something away from it. I feel like some podcasts deliver in that way; some would just regurgitate news that I already heard, but I don’t mind listening again. For instance, The Play was a soccer podcast with Bobby Warshaw where they’d actually get into X’s and O’s about soccer, and I found that enriching. I’d take something away from that. Not just enriching and easy to listen to, but also entertaining. That’s where I think a lot of podcasts fall flat.
The overhead for a podcast is minimal. I probably spend $100 a year for a hosting fee. Otherwise, we’ve got all the equipment. Each microphone I think was like $60, and our audio interface was like $50. Garage Band is built right into your Apple computer. So that’s super easy, and then you just post it.
That’s how we started. Unlike a lot of podcasts, we edited it. I think mainly because we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves, so we would go in and cut out sections of conversations that were particularly stupid and tangential, and didn’t contribute to the pod. In having the liberty of being able to cut things out, it allows us to be more ourselves. In terms of the enriching side to it, that’s something that comes with time, figuring out what people actually want to listen to.
Have you guys always done the production together?
JP: I would say Zippy has certainly taken on most of the burden of editing, and I do most of the pre-editing, which is to say organizing the show and trying to lend it some structure, and preparing notes. If you prepare well enough to do a show, there’s almost zero editing, but Zippy is particularly fond of extemporizing. With that, some stuff works and some stuff doesn’t.
This is a huge podcasting secret, but we actually have notes that we look at. We have a shared Google Doc, and you see what you want to talk about. When you see a news story come out, you throw it on there so you don’t forget that it’s something you want to talk about.
Up until last summer, you guys were pretty much doing one a week, right?
JP: I tell you, Zippy used to be kind of an animal with this. He’d come in, ‘Bro! Bro! We gotta record another episode!’ I think I’m the one who’s been pushing to cut back on the frequency with which we do it. I’ve started a couple of jobs during the lifetime of this podcast that have been very demanding, and I’m like, ‘you know, I should probably focus on not killing people, rather than spending all this time on a free soccer podcast.’
How many hours would you say put into a single episode?
JP: That definitely varies. I certainly put a lot more effort into preparing for an interview with a player than I do for interviews with fans, where we just come up with questions on the spot.
That was a big part of the original genesis of the show, up until a year ago or so (interviews with fans).
JP: We stopped doing as much of that, but we will be going back to it. It’s just, our shows are less frequent now, and we’ve had a good run of luck in actually landing guests. To this day, my favorite interview that we’ve ever done on Soccer Touchdown (aside from interviewing Jeremy Ebobisse) is our interview with Longscarf. Aaron Button. He’s the guy in 103. He’s a tall dude, and every off-season he knits a scarf, and he just keeps knitting until the season starts. We always sit in 102, and Longscarf (as we call him) would be just on the opposite side of the stairs from us in 103. We learned about this amazing tradition that every year he knits a scarf in the off-season, and we’re talking like a twelve to twenty-foot-long scarf. At the end of the season, he gifts it to a player or a member of the staff. I think this past season he gifted it to Kayla Knapp, the Timbers social media czar. It’s an amazing thing to see. Every year, he shows up with this scarf, and he takes it out of his bag and unfurls it. Go back and listen to it, it’s really charming.
You said Ebobisse is your favorite player interview?
JP: I tend to send out text messages to friends of the pod and say, ‘Hey! We’re gonna have so-and-so on. What should I ask him?’ A lot of friends of the pod are introverts, and they wouldn’t be caught dead on a microphone, but they’re like, ‘oh this is great! I can just send you what I want to be asked and I’ll get to hear it?’
How did you make connections with all of these players and entice them onto your show?
JP: It’s kind of funny. It started back in the early days of the show. We had this segment called, ‘Wait, I don’t understand.’ One of the questions posed was, ‘What’s the ring of honor and what’s the criteria to be in it?’ and we thought, ‘who better to ask than Merritt Paulson?’ So we saw Merritt Paulson—as he does—walking on the pitch before a game. We were in 102, we went down to the front of the section and we said, ‘Hey Merritt! Will you come on our podcast? We want to ask you about the ring of honor,’ and he said, ‘oh yeah, actually guys, I’d love to do it. All you gotta do is just check in with the front office to get it scheduled.’ No problem, right? So we contact the front office, and they write back, ‘Merritt doesn’t do interviews. He doesn’t do podcasts, sorry.’ So I asked, ‘you can’t get us Merritt, who can you get us?’ We threw a few names at them, and I said, ‘What about Zarek? He seems like a nice guy.’ Immediately, they wrote back to says, ‘Zarek’s in!’
By no means is Soccer Touchdown the only podcast interview that he’s done. I’ve followed him; he’ll take pretty much any interview. He’s happy to talk as long as you want, and on each of the occasions when we’ve interviewed him, we’ve had a recording malfunction and lost a good chunk of the interview, and each time he said, ‘oh, it’s cool. Let’s just go back and do those questions,’ and I’m like, ‘no, no, no, we can’t do that.’ Nonetheless, we’ve had a good hour of content from each of those interviews.
So you started doing player interviews; you cut down how often you were doing the show…
JP: Yeah, that’s just because Zippy got a girlfriend. You know, Zippy’s got a girlfriend, now we can’t record as often...no, he actually has a job where he flies all over the world to shoot these engaging videos, and so between his schedule and mine, it’s just, when the stars align, we record.
Tell me the story behind the segments of your show, and the theme songs you create.
JP: When I was a kid, I played piano, saxophone and clarinet. I was way into jazz in high school. A long time went by where I was out of touch with music, and just this past year I finally broke down and bought myself an electronic keyboard and a Theremin. I also got this new device called a ROLI Seaboard. It’s a keyboard that allows you to bend notes. There are five different gestures on each key so that you can replicate the sound of an acoustic instrument.
For instance, the Analogy Talk (theme song), I used a small segment of a classic waltz. I was messing around with it on the keyboard, and Zippy introduced this idea that we need a new a segment. We love this idea of new segments. We’ll just come up with them, they’ll disappear and we’ll come up with a new one, like, ‘Wait, I don’t Understand.’ We haven’t done one of those in like a year. So, we came up with Analogy Talk. It happens in every show when someone comes up with an analogy. We’re like, ‘oh wait, that’s a good analogy,’ so we’ll drop in the theme song. Zippy and I cranked that out in 20 minutes. Zippy says, ‘oh, what if I harmonize here.’ With Garage Band, you can drop in multiple tracks and constantly tinker. I remember playing it for my wife, and I asked her, ‘what do you think?’ and she said, ‘I think it could use a triangle, right at the end,’ and I said, ‘no problem,’ so I went back in and dropped in a triangle, and it’s perfect.
In United Cats of Ameowica, it took us a while to realize, ‘this thing needs a theme song. We’re already on Nebraska.’ I just started working on this idea and was messing around with filters on Garage Band, and it actually came together really simply. I sent it off to a friend and he replied, ‘it needs more cowbell.’ I sent it to Zippy, and he said, ‘I like it, except the cat sound at the end isn’t good enough.’ So he wound up doing his own cat sounds with his voice. I look forward to doing that. I like doing creative things. I’ve always had the need for a creative outlet, and I think to a certain degree that this podcast is it. Doing something that’s a little more lighthearted is important (because of the heavy work he does in the medical field). You need something to lighten your spirit a little bit. That’s why, for me, soccer is very much a diversion.
Interview with 11-year-old Ghost of Jeanderson (GOJ):
Tell me about the United Cats of Ameowica, and how it all came together.
GOJ: How it all came together is I decided I wanted to have 50 cats when I grow up, and I want to live above those buildings by Providence Park, and they (JP and Zippy) thought that was a good idea, but it was crazy. All of a sudden, I said, ‘hey, I want to make a book called the United Cats of Ameowica, where I talk about each cat as a different state; what he does on his adventure, or what he sees; what he eats; what he does; funny, humorous kind of quotes.’ That’s how it all began.
So you write these every couple of weeks or so?
GOJ: Yeah, every couple of weeks. Me and my dad record it. We write it down, then we record it. We send it to JP or Zippy, and they then use their magic to put it on the pod.
You met them on the bus ride home from Seattle a couple years back, right?
GOJ: Yeah, on the bus ride there and back.
How long have you been going to Timbers games?
GOJ: My first game was 2012 against Valencia in that friendly.
Do you listen to many Timbers podcasts?
GOJ: Only this one. The number one in Portland.
An Interview with Zippy:
Growing up in small town Oregon, how did you get to what you’re doing now?
Zippy: It was a series lucky coincidences. I moved to Portland in 2006. Because I worked at a record store for years, I’d been heavily involved in music and really wanted be a music supervisor—the guy who gets to help choose music for movies, TV commercials, things like that. I got connected with a company up here and had an internship. That was my big move up here. At the time, it was really very scary. Portland was like New York City to me when I was a kid growing up. That was when I was in my early/mid-20’s. I had always grown up really loving making videos for school. Any time I had a project for school, I’d ask, ‘can I make a video?’
I got burned-out doing music supervision and had some friends who merged with a film production company that had just moved to town and knew they were looking for people. It was one of those situations where they said, ‘hey, we gave your name to these guys. They just moved to town, we’re merging companies. They’re going to be in our same building and we know you’re trying to get into this.’ I said, ‘oh, thanks,’ and didn’t think anything was going to come of it, but then I got a phone call from this production company, and they said, ‘hey these guys said we should talk to you,’ and hired me the next day. For the first year, it was like drinking from a fire hose. You’re just learning. That was three production companies ago. Then, three years ago, a couple people that I met from that production company and I started our own.
So that’s how you learned the whole production process from start to finish?
Zippy: Yeah, I went from doing things like shooting weddings to a piece for the Superbowl this year. It’s crazy. I feel very lucky. I get to travel the world. We’ve actually gotten to shoot some things for the Thorns, which is really incredible. It’s always funny when we show up for those shoots, because no one on our team follows football, so they have no idea who these people are. We show up to do these shoots and I’m like, ‘holy crap! We’re going to get to shoot Meghan Klingenberg today!’ and nobody has any idea who that is. Conversely, we go to shoot American football stuff—no idea who those guys are. So I walk into the room and I say, ‘hey, I’m Zippy, how’s it going.’
Who else do you do projects for?
Zippy: We do a lot of work with CBS, Facebook; we do some shoots for Nike every year. We were doing the Thorns shoots for Lifetime.
When did you move to Portland?
Zippy: In 2006.
How did you get into soccer?
Zippy: I grew up playing when I was really little. I grew up in a tiny town called Stayton. We had Rotary soccer until I was 10, and after that it just didn’t exist. The schools didn’t have teams. The middle school didn’t have a team; the high school didn’t have a team. I recall that I loved playing as a kid. We had a very large Latino population. It’s a small farming town, so a lot of migrant workers come and move there, and some of them stick around. Every year, all four years that I was in high school, there would be a petition of sorts, where kids would sign it, trying to get the high school to start a team, and it never happened.
Then, a few years after I graduated, the school got a team. It’s interesting, because I’m not really a sports guy—I don’t care about many sports. Soccer and hockey are kind of it—I grew up playing those. When I heard our town got a team, I was super, super excited, and then they’ve kind of become a powerhouse. They’ve gone to State a number years; they’ve won State. It’s the sport that the school has become known for, which I love. When I moved up to Portland, I hadn’t played in years. I knew who the Timbers were, but I’d never been to a match. It was 2008 when I finally went. It was the USL days. I’d only gone to a couple of matches during USL, and I started playing again. I worked with some guys who played. I was the youngest person on the team by like 10 years. It just kind of reignited my interest…
That was an actual league?
Zippy: Yeah, it was a beer league team. They were called the MP United—the Mommas and the Poppas. They all had kids who played that were like 8, 9, 10, 11. I worked with one of these guys, and he said, ‘come on out and play for us.’ I was the fastest guy on the team, and totally fell in love with it all over again. It was amazing.
So then the Timbers went into MLS…
Zippy: Yeah, and that really just ratcheted the whole thing up. I didn’t have season tickets. I knew that they were joining MLS, and I was really excited about that. I had kind of followed it here and there, but not really any specific team. I had a friend who somehow got tickets to a match against Seattle, but the tickets were through Multnomah Athletic Club. They used to have a balcony, and if you were a member, you could get tickets and sit out on the balcony and watch the match. Now, the balcony is all enclosed, and it’s where they have those exercise bikes you can see from 102 where we sit now. So, we went and I remember it was a sunny day, and it was the first time I had gone since they joined MLS and it was insane. I think Diego Chara actually got a red card for kicking one of the Seattle players in the head. That was kind of just like it. I felt like, ‘oh my god, I gotta go to more of these.’ I was playing a lot more, and I just felt way more invested. That was 2011, and I did not get season tickets for another couple of years, but I would go to as many matches as I could.
Tell me how you wound up meeting JP
Zippy: So I’ve known (a mutual friend of theirs) for 20 years, and she is a nurse who worked with JP, and she said, ‘hey, I’ve got this buddy that I feel like you should meet. He’s also really into the Timbers.’ We met at the end of 2014, I believe. She came to a match and she brought him. We sat by each other, and I feel like we just hit it off. He’s very sarcastic, and there was a lot of banter during the match. It’s not necessarily the smartest commentary, but I think it’s mostly just us trying to make each other laugh. We started hanging out all the time, watching the matches together. He had season tickets, so any time I was at the match, he was there. We kind of like to sit in the same section, and it just kind of took off from there. I remember he sent me an email, and he was like, ‘I’ve wanted to do a podcast. I feel like we could do this,’ and I had a background in recording stuff, and I said, ‘yeah we can do that.’ I had actually already done a podcast for work when I worked at the music licensing agency, so I knew how to put it together, and that was kind of where it all started. Initially, we thought, ‘yeah, we’ll just do this. This is kind of what we do anyway when we hang out.’ We would pretty much be doing the podcast even if we weren’t recording it, anyway. We decided, ‘let’s do this, it’ll be fun.’ We didn’t really have expectations for it, other than maybe JP’s wife would listen to it; maybe a few of our friends, and that was it. We started in 2015.
It’s certainly, of all the Timbers podcasts, the one that has evolved the most over time. Nothing represents the evolution of the show more than the intro song.
Zippy: Yeah. It’s nice. It’s kind of got these bones to it, and then we love to throw different clips in it. The bones are a song by a local band called, ‘Menomena.’ We added the heartbeat that’s in there, and all the different ‘soccers’ and ‘touchdowns.’ It is cool, because I feel like the intro has definitely evolved a lot, but also, I feel like the different pieces that make up the puzzle that is the intro is very timely. I know that when Caleb Porter (quit) and we all found out, we did a show immediately after that and we just put nothing but Caleb Porter clips in there, him laughing, and all of his little Caleb Porterisms. What’s funny is that we have so many versions of it, trying to find one sometimes, you gotta sift through them all.
The thing that I really enjoy about the show is that we’ve never really sat down and said, ‘we’re gonna start here, but this is where were gonna end up.’ A lot of the people who are characters on the show, or the different bits, if you will, have all been very—JP and I have never sat down and said, ‘let’s whiteboard this out.’ A lot of times is just he or I will text each other and write, ‘what if we did this? Will this work? This will be funny; maybe this will be fun!’ From my dad calling and leaving voicemails that we would play, to little Ghost of Jeanderson—meeting him randomly on a bus and he just becoming a part of the show; to the super computer Sambot. The fantasy league started because I didn’t want to do fantasy. JP was hounding me, and kept trying to get me to do it, and I said, ‘I’m not going to do this. I don’t need another thing to manage. The only way I’ll do this is if it’s like we literally set it, and that’s it,’ and he said, ‘OK, we’ll do that.’ I can’t believe how popular it is. It’s intentional, but not in like a very pure way. We never really do anything and think, ‘this is going to be HUGE!’ It’s just like, ‘do we think this is enjoyable?’ I like that.
The show started off a lot with you guys taking a microphone to the games and just talking to random people and interviewing them; putting those into the show. It seems like you’ve gone away from that in the last year and had more interviews with players, which is also awesome, but I wouldn’t say it’s better or worse, it’s just evolution.
Zippy: Yeah, I think that it started off being really a Timbers podcast. That was the original idea. I think that it has evolved a lot into being more of a Portland football podcast. I love the Thorns. Both JP and I have season tickets to the Thorns, as well, and I think that this sport in America is something that is still so much of a fringe. I have other teams in the league that I like, and that I follow. For the most part, I feel like it’s a sport where in America, or even when I travel abroad, there are two things: In America, you meet someone else who is a fan of this sport, and I feel like I have this instant connection with them, even if they are—aside from maybe Seattle and San Jose—a fan of any of these other teams I feel like it’s more of a connection than something that keeps us apart. I’m really lucky, because I travel so much. I go to other countries, and some of my fondest memories are being in these other places where I don’t speak the same vocal language as these people, but there’s a football, and suddenly you’re kicking this ball around with these kids in Nepal, or India, or Cuba.
I went to the Nepali football championships in 2013. I was the only white person in a stadium full of Nepali people, and I ended up taking my cab driver to the game, because I had an extra ticket. I don’t speak Nepali, he doesn’t speak English, and trying to explain, ‘no, I have this extra ticket, let’s go!’ We went together and it was incredible, because I couldn’t speak these people’s language; they couldn’t speak mine, but we still were able to sit there and everybody understood. I just think football really is this incredible universal language that goes so much beyond the actual sport itself. I feel like that’s how the podcast has evolved. There are other great podcasts out there about the Timbers, and we don’t need to do a play-by-play post-match.
What’s your favorite Timbers podcast?
Zippy: I don’t really know that I have a favorite. Obviously, Morrisonic fills the niche of breaking down the games, and we don’t need to do that. It’s really great how all of the Timbers and Thorns podcasts all seem really supportive of each other. I don’t think that you necessarily have to listen to one. I think we all provide something that’s different. I think that ours…we want our episodes to be a little more timeless. When you have interviews with players or people who are involved in the organization, five years from now, Vytas hasn’t played for the team for years and years, but I think that that’s still something that you could listen to. Maybe if someone’s just becoming a fan and wanting to know more about the team, I think that those are more timeless episodes than going back and listening to us talk about just one random match.
I think that that’s been one of the biggest kind of surprises and it’s really humbling, because we are just a couple of chuckle heads with some microphones, you know, but what this podcast has given us as far as the community and the people that we’ve met has been really incredible, and that is not something that I expected. We expected that we’ll put this out, we’ll have like three or four listeners, and—not like we have a massive listenership—but I am blown away when we look at the analytics and some of the places where people listen to our pod. Every once in a while I’ll be at a match and somebody will say, ‘Zippy…from Soccer Touchdown, right?’ and I’m like, ‘I have no idea who you are, but yes, thank you for listening!’ It’s really weird.
Do you take a ball with you when you go around the world traveling?
Zippy: I try to. It’s kind of hard to try to fit that in, but I do manage to generally find some place where I can get one, or the power of the internet—trying to connect with those different communities—a really great example is I was in Singapore for two weeks for work, and I looked up the S League. I found some team and I decided, ‘this is gonna be my team,’ and so I found a Facebook fan page and sent those guys a message and I wrote, ‘hey, I’m looking to go to this match. I want to hang out. I’d love to talk to you guys.’ We had it on one of the episodes. Those dudes said, ‘yeah, we’ve got pickup if you wanna come play.’ So I was able to just go play some futsal with those guys for like two of the nights I was there. I do tend to take the Timbers Army scarf with me wherever I go, just because I have to watch a lot of the matches on the road while I’m traveling for work.
Have you left any in places?
Zippy: Yeah, that’s one of my other favorite things. Trading those things, leaving them with people. We have our Soccer Touchdown stickers—just putting those in random places. A few times, I’ll have the scarf just on my bag, and I spend a lot time airports, and I’ll be walking and hear, ‘RCTID!’ or ‘PTFC!’ from across the way. I think it’s a nice badge or emblem that lets other people who are in the know—and I’ve had people who aren’t Timbers fans but are soccer fans or other MLS fans give me the nod.
Do you do most of the production work on the show?
Zippy: I would say that I probably edit 80% of the episodes. JP does the other 20. I always wonder sometimes if people can tell the difference between them, because I think we have different (styles). I always try to be pretty intentional with the music that gets put in. I really love the podcast from the standpoint that we talk a lot about pop culture, and being able to use the background that I have working in a record store, being a big music fan; I always wanna have the intro and outro song…if people knew how long I lamented on what I’m gonna use there, I think they’d be like, ‘geeze, man.’ Then JP is a really big fan of jazz, so the episodes that he edits tend to be filled with a little more of that. There have been a few episodes that we’ve actually edited together, but for me, it’s generally a lot of late nights, or I’m editing on the plane.