My sister scored tickets to last night’s the Portland Timbers match. Despite what I knew would be a fun and unique sporting experience, I was reluctant to go.
After short sleep because of July 4th fireworks Tuesday night and an early client call on Wednesday AM, I had a hilly 8-10 mile training run planned for the afternoon. Then I had to traverse across town to pick up my son from Summer Camp, drive him home, then head back downtown for the game. It all felt like a lot of friction.
Wow. I’m glad I said “yes.” After a huge effort, they finished with a 2-2 draw in one of the most exciting soccer matches I’ve ever watched.
I’m also glad I said “yes” because I not only enjoyed one helluva soccer match, but I learned from the experience watching a team relentless in their pursuit of a win when they had every reason to quit, or not even show up.
Here are my top five (5) lessons from last night’s Portland Timbers match:
1 – Never, ever mail it in, even when you have every reason to.
Three players are pulling double duty, playing both for the Timbers and for their national soccers squads, representing the United States, Jamaica and Costa Rica.
The team just returned from a tough road game on Saturday where they drew against Kansas City – a team tied for first place in the Western Conference. Last night, the Timbers faced the Chicago Fire, the first-place team in the Eastern Conference and team that has gone unbeaten in its last ten matches.
After last night’s game, they have a two-week break before their next match.
They had every reason to give a half-ass effort and get to the break to rest and heal.
But they didn’t.
2 – Shit happens. Deal with it.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the 24’ on a penalty kick, they gave up a fluke goal from a crossing pass that skipped past the keeper – a goal that certainly will not make any highlight reels. But a goal is a goal and the match was tied.
In the second half, the Fire took a 2-1 lead on a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and down across the goal line. The ball never even hit the back of the net.
3 – Keep pressing.
With only 30 minutes to go before a two-week break and every excuse to tell themselves why they should lose the game, the Timbers never stopped pressing.
Check out the match stats: 7 offsides, 8 corner kicks, 24 shots, 9 shots on goal, 60% possession time.
When they responded with an equalizing goal in the 70th minute, I fully expected them to lay back and play for the draw – get the point and get to the break. Instead, they seemed to press even harder, attacking and counterattacking at every chance.
4 – Sometimes not losing feels as good as winning.
Given the situation and obstacles in front of you, a non-negative outcome is completely acceptable sometimes – to play with intensity and enthusiasm for the full 90+ minutes.
To put forth a zealous for the win against all of the reasons to accept losing.
To be proud of your effort against whatever is causing resistance.
5 – Find your crowd.
We sat in the Timbers Army section, where fans stand and chant the ENTIRE game.
You could feel the energy pouring onto the field and watch the players respond. As the fast-paced match picked up speed in the second half, each time the players seemed to lose a little steam and escape a quick counterattack, they quickly recovered and pushed forward.
The players fed off of the crowd, and the crowd fed off of the players. 21,000 fans cheering their voice hoarse to feed the players energy past exhaustion to go for the win. The players responded, and in fact, scored a go-ahead goal in extra time that was waived off because of an off-sides call.
Thank you Portland Timbers (and Tbone!).
Expect me to be at Providence Stadium on July 19th…