—by Lucas Grzybowski
With the Timbers playing Chivas USA tomorrow (7pm, Merlo Field) in the first round of the US Open Cup MLS qualification tourney — and their first ever competitive home match in the MLS Era — I got to ruminating about our past appearances in this little "oldest cup competition in United States soccer."
It may be noteworthy that the first thing that pops into my mind when I think "Timbers success in US Open Cup" is Luc Harrington scoring in a 2-0 win vs Bakersfield Brigade in 2007. Luc's goal wasn't the game-winner (Larry O scored the first)...hell I wasn't even at the game! I probably heard about it on the Inter-net at some point later that day. To be sure, the Timbers have had more success in the Cup than a single away win vs a PDL side; there have been wins vs the flounders, valiant losses to MLS teams, and a couple memorable trips to a little Navy Town up north.
Here are the memories that stick in my mind:
San Jose — In my first season supporting the team (2004), we made it all the way to the 4th round. This is one of my first best Timbers memories, with more than 10k at the Piggy on a steaming hot day to see the Timbers take on USA Golden Boy Landon Donovan and his formidable Earthquakes team (which included Brian Ching and Dwayne DeRosario - DeRo actually scored a goal off the bench in this match, and looking at the match report on Timber Mill, that bench also featured a number of names now familiar to Timbers fans: Jamil Walker, Chris Brown, Steve Cronin and...Roger Leveseque? Yeech!). Timbers were down a man for most of the match (get stuck in Gavin!), and lost 0-3, but the TA never stopped singing for the boys, and in the final accounting it was a good day to be a Timber.
Hollywood Utd — Possibly the lowest point the Timbers ever reached during my time as a fan (perhaps tied with the entire 2006 season for that depressing distinction). We lost at home to a 5th division novelty side full of aged footballers and castoffs — including former Timber Matt Taylor, whose most memorable contribution as a Timber was sending an open header off the post in extra time vs Atlanta in the 2007 USL semifinals. Taylor scored twice against us that day for Hollywood. Thanks for nothing, Taylor Mutt! The bright side of this disaster is that only 3,000 people saw it happen (a definite attendance nadir in a 2008 season that saw PTFC crowds start to grow to the 10k+ numbers we saw routinely in 2009 and '10).
Flounders — We have beaten that team from up I-5 in USOC play: twice in 2003 qualifying (before my time), and once in 2005, when we knocked them out of the cup in the run up to a 4th-round rematch with the Quakes. I wish I had a greater recollection of that 2005 win, because it's been nothing but heartbreak since: they've knocked us out of the competition in three of the past four seasons.
In 2007 the flounders and their buddy Hidajet Tica defeated the Timbers at Starfire (around the time they started playing there to avoid the embarrassment of having triple-digit crowds in an NFL stadium). A certain formerly beloved midfielder scored for the bad guys after CK6 was unjustly sent off by the aforementioned Mr. Tica. I think this was also the game Betsy Ross was spotted on TV heckling dick-nose burpo from the woods behind his net; so, one bright spot at least.
The last two years we've played host to the MLS rave green squad in front of massive crowds at PGE, and while the Timbers played their guts out both years, both times they've lost. In 2009 we went down early and could only manage a 1-2 loss, and last year we took the bastards to penalties where tit-head keller's experience shone through and we again bowed out of the competition. In addition to the massive crowds, 2009's match also featured what is still the most impressive tifo display I've ever seen. To give credit where it's due, that game I also saw more seatle supporters in one place than I'd ever seen (that includes about a half dozen matches in their own home park). Awe-inspiring fan support aside, it stung to lose to that team. Winning preseason matches is nice but I would love another chance at those clowns in the Cup (unlikely this year, considering the lengthy qualification road we have to take).
Photo by Jesse Beals
Kitsap Pumas — The Pumas have only been around since 2009, but they've already become one of our best and favorite regional rivals (for both the big Timbers and the U23s, with whom they compete in the PDL NW Division). They've got a solid organization and a successful team, good fans, and they know how to treat visiting supporters. We beat them in their house in both of their first two years of existence (by a strange coincidence, both years we made it to the Kitsap game by defeating Sonoma County Sol, and both years defeating Kitsap earned us a 3rd round game vs Seatle).
The 2009 game was tight, with the Timbers securing victory very late on (the 3-0 scoreline was slightly unfair to the home team in that one). At halftime we switched ends with the Pumas supporters (or the "litterbox" as they call themselves - can't make this stuff up), and then enjoyed having shots lashed at us by the Kitsap players warming up before the second half. I distinctly remember Pumas keeper Dustyn Brim, whom we'd been taunting mercilessly the entire match, telling us directly after the final whistle to "go beat Seattle, I hate that fucking team." Ah Dusty, you're probably my favorite non-Timbers player.
In 2010 we saw Kitsap off relatively easily, 4-1, in a game that I remember more as the beginning of the phenomenon known as "Getting Kitsapped" (a phrase meaning something like "epically absurd away shenanigans"). We must have lit 20 smoke bombs during that game, one of which nearly hit our own keeper (for the record throwing smoke bombs is what a dumbass does: don't do it). We were menaced by a gang of pigtailed 12-yr old girl ultras. I'm pretty sure one of the locals gave us a big batch of jello shots. We had a raucous good time, but the "epic absurdity" part of it would reach even epicer and absurder heights during a preseason match the following season (a tale for another blog post).
Got any good US Open Cup memories? Were you at either of the recent big games vs seatle? Did you see Luc Harrington score in Bakersfield? Have you ever been Kitsapped? Let us know in the comments.
(And if you haven't got your ticket for tomorrow night's game, they are still available at the JELD-WEN Field box office. Walk up or call Ryan at 503.555.5564, $20 no fees.)