Playing for the Love of the Axe – by Ian Joy
When I think about the Timbers Army the first word that comes into my mind is Passion. The impact that the Timbers Army has made on Major League Soccer has been absolutely mind-blowing. The atmosphere is not only one of the best in America it is one of the best in the world.
As a footballer it was an honor and privilege to pull on the famous green Jersey of Portland but an even bigger honor personally is to have the opportunity to play in front of those amazing fans.
Every time I would walk on to the field I would thank god for giving me this moment and always made a promise to myself that no matter what the result may be I would fight to the death for those people who pay their good money to sing and cheer for their city!
I would give my very last drop of energy until the referee blew his final whistle for that crest and for those fans.
Now, as a footballer I was never as technically blessed as someone like (Javi) Morales or (Darlington) Nagbe but what I didn’t bring to the field in talent I brought in Heart and desire. That desire took me way further than I ever expected in my career but the only reason I managed to stay at that level was because every single day, every single training session, every single game I would play like it was my last.
I never got the opportunity to get to know Spenny as well as I would have liked to but I can only Imagine that he will be trying to get across to his players that they have been given a blessing from god to be fortunate enough to ply their trade in front of the Timbers Army at Jeld Wen field every weekend.
Many footballers all over the world work hard every single day to keep their dream alive of playing football at the highest level and so many of them are never given the chance they deserve no matter how hard they work. The players in the Portland Timbers squad have in one way or another landed themselves into one of the most desirable teams in the hemisphere.
Walking around the City of Portland as a Timbers player is amazing, often you feel like a hero with so many people patting you on the back or buying you drinks at the local pubs, many people wanting just to talk to you and be a part of your life, it is very hard to keep your feet on the ground.
I can only imagine what I experienced as a part of the USL Timbers side is now 10 fold as a MLS player.
However, the beautiful city bars and restaurants, the appreciation from supporters as you walked down the street, and the genuine love that comes your way from the supporters at Jeld Wen comes at a price.
That price is passion!
It doesn’t matter if you are the highest earner on the team or the youngest rookie earning pennies, there is an expectancy to provide your blood, sweat and tears for your coach, your club and most importantly those fans.
When I was in Germany, I played for St Pauli in Hamburg. Many times I saw stars coming in to the club in their Porsches wearing sunglasses and acting like King Schwanz prancing around the city.
Nothing bothered me more than seeing those players training or playing half-assed and taking life for granted when I was working my butt off every day just to get in the first eleven and working ten times harder to stay in it. Such players didn’t last very long.
If you don’t have the heart and passion for your job as a footballer then you might as well give up before you even start. If you’re in it for the money or the fame then you have already failed.
Even though the players in Major League Soccer don’t make a lot of money compared to other leagues around the world a lot of those players are given opportunities that they wouldn’t normally get in other countries.
Playing in front of 20+ thousand fans at Jeld Wen field is one of those such opportunities.
What an absolute honor they have to walk out in front of those fans and play the game of soccer.
Just the thought of it brings back so many good memories and makes the heart flutter.
After watching the 2nd half against Chivas USA on Saturday night then reading some of the comments the coach and fans were making about the game, I get the feeling that many players in that dressing room better get their act together very quickly or the fantasy that they are living now will be over before they know it and gone forever.
The coach needs results and to him that will always be most important and, even though the fans want the points, what is most important to them is the desire.
I wouldn’t call the current situation at PTFC desperate by an means.
They have the talent amongst the squad to be one of the best teams in the league but now is the time for a wake up call before it gets too late. The only way out of a losing streak is to fight together as a group of players and as a club.
The Timbers have a fantastic organization with some amazing characters who work around the team and its those people who can help motivate those players and provide them with everything they need to perform but one thing is for sure when the whistle blows only you on the field can make the difference between winning and losing.
Follow Ian Joy on Twitter at @JOYPAULIAN