In Praise of Fansites or You Only Sing When You’re Winning
by Jim Boussios
“You only sing when you’re winning.” is a claim that cuts right to the core of what it means to be a supporter. It is an accusation of casualness, that you’re only there for the good times and are nowhere to be found when things go south.
No one likes to hear those words being thrown at them but that’s only because we all know that it’s actually damned hard to sing when you’re not winning. I say this because it is with a certain amount of guilt in that regard about writing now and not any time over the last couple weeks when results have not been kind to the Portland.
Throwing away points by giving up a late stoppage time goal against RSL was familiar dirge from last season and I have yet to develop the journalistic objectivity necessary to talk about that sort of result in any coherent way without the benefit of time.
This was followed by the Timbers trip to Seattle which resulted in a 1-0 defeat which seemed like a fair result given the circumstances. Once again what little objectivity I can muster wasn’t enough to find moral victories with our hated rivals surging up the table at our expense, while we were struggling to tread water.
The next match was a midweek 4-2 loss at the hands of RSL, a result that I felt was unjustly impacted by the sending off of Ben Zemanski right before the half and the Timbers having clawed one goal back after going down 2-0. I felt extremely hard done by the decision (and I do mean I, I took it rather personally at the time) and it served as a lighting rod to distract me from issues like what exactly that 3-5-3 formation Porter chose was supposed to do, and how, even a man down, did the Timbers let that RSL guy get that wide open on his bicycle kick goal?
I offer these examples not as excuses but perhaps as moments that gave me a certain amount of appreciation for the work that so many do in covering our beloved teams.
Many, if not most, of them do it for little to no monetary compensation, instead doing it for the same proverbial “love of the game” that the rest of us share. Perhaps it’s silly for me to feel any sort of guilt at all, after all I have no established readership and any pressure is coming from within.
So there the Timbers sat, coming off their first consecutive match losing streak of the season and who was coming to town but the perfect palate cleanser Toronto FC.
You probably watched the game, and by now you’ve seen plenty of game recaps hitting on the major talking points like the return of Will Johnson, Jose Valencia’s game and the impact of Diego Valeri, who scored a goal and notched an assist after coming on in a Willis Reed-esque role and sparking the Timbers goal outburst at the end of the game.
In a vacuum the Timbers 4-0 victory wasn’t that impressive. Parking the bus is the privilege of the weak, but TFC didn’t even look particularly competent at that and visibly wilted under the onslaught of the last ten minutes or so.
But when one considers that the talk going into the game was speculation that the Timbers weren’t even going to be able to field eighteen healthy bodies, the result was much needed for the Timbers to hold their ground in the very tight Western Conference playoff race.
Four out of the last seven matches are home games against teams that are ahead of the Timbers in the standings and the other three are home and away with Chivas and away to Vancouver. The remaining schedule seems favorable.
As if our collective hearts couldn’t stand the pressure of the stretch run into the playoffs but today I read that certain parties have crunched the numbers and are predicting a Portland/Seattle matchup in the playoffs. There’s a lot of games left to go before we get there, which is good because I am not sure if anyone, Portland, Seattle, MLS etc is prepared for that sort of titanic clash.