We had some distinguished visitors in North Portland last night; Manchester's Manchester City Football Club.Played at University of Portland's Merlo Field because of schedule conflicts with the baseball Beavers at the Civic and (I was told) to avoid the pavement-like downtown turf, the match in the Merlo matchbox was a great place to get up close to Manchester's internationals; Craig Bellamy, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Emmanuel Adebayor, and Patrick Viera.The Timbers Army was out in force, although not in particularly good voice - the seating prevented the Army's capos from taking their usual place facing the section, so the singing and chants were a bit less sharp than usual.The little field was packed, the crowd was busy and happy, and we even had a little moment of surreal soccer oddity, as the field sprinklers came on with less than five minutes until kickoff.Welcoming MCFC to rainy Portland? A simulated touch of slick, wet, English turf?
We'll never know.
The play wasn't any sharper than the singing and as soggy as the grass. It was a friendly, after all, and the English side is just beginning its training for the fall Premiership campaign. Both sides fielded some trialists, in particular MCFC.
We didn't get to see Wright-Phillips, probably still on light training after South Africa, and about half the starters for MCFC were reserves. But Bellamy played the entire first forty-five minutes - and rattled the crossbar after an incredible sprint across the top of the 18 - as did Adebayor, who scored a nice goal headed over our keeper.The Boys in Green were prolific - we outshot Man City - but as usual we had trouble finding the back of the net. Gaudet had a neat shot turned wide, and Steve Purdy ran onto a lovely though ball at the end of this sequence...
...that we should have done better with.
We had some opportunities in garbage time, with ALL their bottom-of-the-depth-chart subs on, and a lot of ours, too. But we couldn't score - been our problem all season. dammit. I walked home in the cool evening humming "Oh, Rose City, soccer city, score a goal..."
But no matter. It really wasn't about winning or losing; it was a world-class European side playing in our tiny Merlo Field. It was about singing and chanting our support for our team. It was about the Beautiful Game, in a beautiful place, on a beautiful evening in our beautiful North Portland.