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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Sanna Nyassi Memorial Teddy Bear Toss (or what Tony did on his holiday)

"Ello, ello, what goin' on 'ere" and a black hand grabs my shoulder. "Tony!" I exasperate as I swivel "I've been trying you on your cellular telephone all afternoon!"

"Don't work 'ere...Orange innit".
"Don't give me that shit, there is no way in god's hell-on that you wouldn't make sure your moby worked while you were on vacation. You've been in a bar or a bad part of town...or a bed, come on mate spill!"

"Powell's" Tony says all cool as a cuke, breaking into a wide mouthed, whitely dentined grin.
"Never mind, lets get in and seated"

Crossing Burnside we head for the gates and after a cusory glance into my Marimekko we grab seats.

"Nice evenin for a bit of a kick aroun'"

As the clock ticks around towards 7pm and the seats fill Tony stretches out his long legs and adjusts his baseball cap. I look around and breath deeply, focusing in on faces.

Tony smiles as the ball-girls shimmy to MJ and the guy over yonder air guitars his imaginary Starburst to QOTSA.

"Yeah man" Tony shouts as the teams take the field, I mentally make a wager in my own mind as to when Tony will say "Much Niceness" as he has been saying it a lot on this trip. His first words are actually "Oh-oh...wot a stunna" as with only 49 seconds on the clock old nemesis Roger Levesque scores on a diving header from a cross by Sanna Nyassi hushing vast swathes of PGE Park.

"Come on Portlan'!" Tony, as befits a 6'4" descendant of Guyanese sugar plantation croppers, is quite loud and he gets some "looks" from the assembled.

"You Portlanders are a cruel bunch you know that?" "What do you mean?" "Take a look." Tony points to a huge banner over in 107. "Invoking the Cobain, now that is wot I call cruel, man" and Tony laughs at the idea that we are hinting, no, insisting that Casey Keller "Do a Cobain".

Despite some early "positive vibes" as Tony would have it...a spin and shot from Suzuki, Manidjou Kaita's header just wide from David Hayes' cross and Josten's chest and shot over the bar I have a niggling feeling that Seattle have the upper hand.

"What's that dude's name?" "Keita...Mandjou Keita". "What, like Salif?" Tony looks impressed. "By the way I nicked that Rail Band CD out of your car." "Will I be getting it back?" I smile. Tony is one of those blessed people who's charm deflects all things. "Keita...Keita...what a name, what-a-name." Tony sucks air through his teeth and smiles.

"Speaking of Africans their #23 has been impressive so far don't you think?" Sanna Nyassi darts inside from the right and fires a left foot shot which keeper Cronin has to push away for the corner.

"Too many patterns" I think to myself. "Too many patterns don't you think Tone?"
"Nufin' wrong with patterns. my friend. Patterns are life, nowhatimean?"

I don't, but that's Tony for you.

"Nice run by #4" says Tony, but Farber's run and cross is quickly overshadowed by Nyassi getting in behind Hayes and blasting over.

Hayes complains to the ref and gets a yellow for his trouble.

"Why did he do that?" I sigh. "He should have been all relaxed and zen about it, now he's playing 75 minutes with a weight around his neck."

26 minutes in and it's 2-nil Sounders. Vagenas into Jaqua. A nice chest down and King's shots curls inside the keeper's right post.

"Man alive".

"What's going on Tone? It's almost all Seattle, they are playing some nice 1-touch soccer, getting the ball on the floor quick-like and now the Timbers are playing as if they get bonus payments for keeping it in our own 1/3. This is NOT how I pictured this evening going"

"Clear the ball, Timbers! Clear the ball!!!"

"You're givin' them too much credit, mate. They are (after all, like what the banner says) in a league below." Tony points to the "A league below, but a class above" banner in 107.

"You'll feel better if you shout a bit", Tony offers as advice.

"Don't feel like shouting, right about now"

"Too much {muffled, muffled}".

"What was that?"

"I said too much Joanna Newsom, not enuf shouty stuff"

"Will you give it a rest, Tone" What can I say I think "Ys" is probably one of the finest albums of this century so far"

"Don't I know, it" huffs Tony.

"OK, so I do go a bit overboard if I haven't heard it for a while"

"If by Overboard you mean Play 10 times in a row, then yes...Anyway it's Van Dyke Parks who really makes it innit"

"You know an awful lot about it if you really hate it as much as you profess!"

"Nah, I'm just saying...that and Happy Come Home...it's all about the man-like Van Dyke Parks knowwhatimsayin??"

"Let me play it for you just one more time and I think it'll click." I smile and Tony smiles back.

Back to the game and Jaqua, Vagenas and Le Toux and being massively annoying, but finally the Timbers get back into it a bit.

Hurtado having to give up a corner under pressure from Keita. The ref awarding a free kick strangely against Keita and Josten again nearly putting the Guinean in, but the former Cottager Kasey Keller getting there first.

"Did I ever tell you I used to go to Fulham quite a bit as a kid? Lots of tan overcoats and large pinky rings and very interesting vibes. Nice place to watch a game or 2. My dad was a Fulham fan so it was nice to have some connection to a club he knew"

"Getting all misty eyed are we?? That's what ol' Joanna will do to you mate!"


"Ole-time" notes Tony as Seattle keep possession 15-20 times, the kind of thing that is impressive if it's your team, but fucks you right off if it's Seattle.

As the game drifted towards half-time the Timbers got a goal back as Suzuki's ball into the box to Faber got loose and Mandjou Keita pounced. 2-1

"So what did you do today?" I ask, not exactly expecting a straight answer.

"You know...all the touristy tings" Took some cuttings from the Rose Test Garden...""YOU DIDN"T" "Man, your face! talk about protective, nah not really"

"Just hung out, did some shopping. Checked out Mississippi Records"
"Fantastic isn't it, I thought you'd like it"
"Walked down to the river, saw a Heron down there and fish jumpin' out of the water. It was a clear day so I kept getting a shock when I would turn a corner and see Mt. Hood in the distance. Much Niceness"

Was that a flicker of a smile on Tony's face? Maybe, but I think he was checking out the girls behind us, rather than knowing me too well.

2nd half and Tony McManus is on for Savage. The half starts with Keita offside and a great break by Suzuki down the left and a shot across goal.

"Nyassi round the back again!" I sigh.

"Didn't deal with him earlier" muses Tony. "Let it fester and now it's too late" "He is a fine player though..."

Another goal??!! No, Neagle offside. Suzuki heads Hayes cross wide and Josten wins a nice corner on the left side with aplomb.

"Man! Faber had space there if only Mandjou hadn't passed behind him!"

"Nice run by Josten, but he sort of realized he was running into trouble and looked for the free kick".

The crowd is announced as 16,382 and with 17 minutes to go Montero, King and Nyassi combine well and Scot Thompson nearly puts it into his own net.

"Owwww, what's goin' on now? Did you see that? Nyassi just grabbed his face and is rolling around wasting time!"

"Maybe he got stung by a bee...in the eye."


"That's right. You tell 'im Stevey-boy"

"What I don't understand is it looks like the ref is waving play on, but then he should get a yellow surely??"

[and then what looks like a plastic water bottle thrown from somewhere 107-ish lands on or almost on the already writhing body of Nyassi]

"Well, don't like to see tings get chucked on the field, but fair-play, that was an amazing shot from someone!"

Both Tony and I look on and nod approvingly. Of course I immediately think this should be turned into a new half-time event...something like the tennis ball toss - "The First Annual Sanna Nyassi Memorial Teddy Bear Toss and Bar-B-Q". Take that and use it PGE Events Coordinator...no charge.

"He recovered from that occular bee sting rather sharpish, no?"

Cameron Knowles heads wide from a Timbers corner as a bit of a palaver breaks out in the beer garden involving (it looks like from a distance) flags.

Keller again looks commanding in his domain, getting in before Farber, Scot wastes a cross from the right and McManus lobs a ball up into Keller's arms (WTF?).

"Well mate. As the Meadowlark and the Chim Cher-ee say...that's all she wrote Dear John"

I smile at Tony one last time as the whistle blows and the Portland Timbers exit the U.S. Open Cup.

Tony and I cross Burnside again and head for the car. The evening is cool now and, as we cross the Fremont Bridge, Tony turns the volume up on Ys (which I had purposely turned way down) sits back with his hands behind his head and grins.

"I'm tellin' you my friend. Van Dyke is the man, the geezer, the man who's bringin' it. Listen to those strings, all Bollywood-ed up for the pixie harpist from Nevada City, man"

I turn to look at Tony and he looks back at me all serious. I have to put my eyes back on the road, but I know he's grinning, the cheeky so-and-so"

posted by the timberlog at 9:47 PM

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