BY Stanley Holmes 08:48PM 07/09/2011

Holmes: Much meaning for Keller in Portland

The Sounders-Timbers rivalry returns, this time in Portland, for what will be Keller’s last match in the Rose City, which spawned his pro career. But don’t expect the Timbers Army to care.

Kasey Keller Sounders 2009

Kasey Keller directs the Sounders in what will be his final pro season / Sounders FC

For Sounders FC captain Kasey Keller, the match against the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland will perhaps be more meaningful than any other regular season road game.

It was in Portland that Keller’s journey to the U.S. National Team and eventually to a successful professional career in Europe really began. Now that he has announced he plans to retire at the end of the season, Keller gets one opportunity to play in the renovated Jeld-Wen .

This stadium is a place until recently evoked fond memories, Keller said. He played for the University of Portland, some local semi-pro teams and played in  the then-PGE Park when he suited up for the national team. That was in the 1980s and ’90s when soccer in America hardly caused a stir, except in local hotbeds such as Portland and Seattle.

“I had some history there. I had a lot of good memories there,” Keller said Friday, a day before the Sounders left on a bus for Portland. “And I hope to have one more.”

That, of course, will bring smiles to the faces of Sounders faithful and frowns to thousands of Timbers supporters, who under any other color, would embrace Keller as one of their own.

But not on this Sunday when the Sounders and Timbers clash at 1 p.m. in the rematch of the most intense rivalry in Major League Soccer. The rivalry dates back to the 1970s, when the lights were being turned off in Seattle, and Portland didn’t have lights.

Keller doesn’t expect Timbers supporters to show him any love when he walks onto the Jeld-Wen pitch for perhaps the last time. And he wouldn’t want it any other way.

“They’ll be rooting against me instead of with me,” said the 41-old goalkeeper. “It’s going to be a fun atmosphere and we’re all looking forward to it. There’s not going to be a whole lot of love.”

As Keller winds down his storied career (16 seasons in Europe) and the Seattle-Portland rivalry winds up this season, the man who has witnessed intense European rivalries firsthand — including hooligans inciting violence — is hoping the Sounders-Timbers “darby” leaves out the latter.

“My wish is the rivalry continues to be good natured,” Keller said. “There could be a little bit of hatred there, but as long as it doesn’t spill into violence, I think we’ll all be happy. I saw too much of that in Europe. It’s not a lot of fun.”

Keller recounted some tales at Milwall, a third-division London club that was his first European team, where its supporters were known for violence.

He described episodes where police horses were charging fans behind the goal during the  game. Or fans chasing players around the field. “That’s not the kind of stuff we need,” he said.

Interestingly enough, Portland helped Keller land at Milwall. It was at the University of Portland where Keller fell under the guidance of legendary coach and mentor Clive Charles, one of the many former English soccer stars who came to the States during the heyday of the North American Soccer League. Charles played for the Timbers and made Portland his home when the league crumbled.

Charles then devoted himself to developing young American talent through FC Portland, the youth club he founded, and the University of Portland, which is a power in college soccer. Keller was one of his early talents. Charles, who died eight years ago to cancer, eventually helped get him to Milwall — the scrubby club in a tough part of London.

“I was going there to play for Clive Charles,” Keller said. “I needed to be with someone who knew something about Europe. I wanted to go to Europe. When you said that in the mid-80s …people kind of looked at you.

“I had a lot of respect for Clive. I had a great time at University of Portland. It set me up great for my life in Europe. It was one of the best decisions of my life.”

Now, Seattle and Portland bring a sense of the European rivalry to the MLS. As with any  classic “darby,” Keller says it won’t be pretty. Emotions run high. Whatever the form of either team, it really doesn’t matter. Rivalries take on their own force and players want to win it for their fans.

And that means the games are often tense and tight. No one wants to make a mistake. Keller has played in his fair share, from England to Germany to Spain, and now here in America.

Now the Sounders-Timber rivalry is on par with some of the best darbies in Europe. That’s not to say the soccer will be scintillating. Though, there plenty of darbies where the soccer has been superb. Mostly, though the opposite occurs.

“These kind of games, form goes out the window,” Keller said. “This is a game where both teams have to roll up their sleeves, who capitalizes on somebody’s mistake or who does something special to change things.

“These are tough games for players. It’s not going to be the prettiest game to watch. It’s about who has the biggest heart and who’s got the most commitment.”



YourThoughts

  • Sean Boyd

    Ichiro is a 10-5 guy.  The M’s can’t unilaterally decide to trade him. It’s pointless to offer up a trade of Ichiro as an amelioration of the team’s current woes when there is no evidence he would want to be traded.

    • Artthiel

      Sean,

        That’s why I said, “If he asked . . . ” Neither you nor I nor the American or Japanese media who follow him know what he really thinks. 

  • Kmusicman09

    Sure missed you when you left the PI.. Love your columns! Anyway I have had the same feeling for over a month, but when I put my thoughts in a (unnamed) forum, I get blasted. The formula for a winning team, is far more than a young Cy young winner, and an aging HOF Ichiro. As I said before.. JUST DO IT!! Can I say that, or am I going to get a waffle in the face?

    • Artthiel

      K,
         Ask for the strawberries and whip cream.

  • ivan

    Art, should I call the Lost and Found for you and see if they have your marbles?

  • Gdawg

    I would love to see two valuable pieces paired with Figgins, and clear the deck, getting a couple of prospects in return.  Bedard + League + Figgins to NYY for Montero and a pitcher or to another big market team looking for a good starter, good closer/reliever and a salary to eat.  Losing Felix would be tough with 3 more years left on his contract. 

    • Ellard Souza

      Montero is a top 5 prospect, the Yankees would laugh in a GM’s face with that trade.  maybe Felix for Montero….

  • Dallen35

    I approve. In fact, I believe that the Mariners, to become a more profitable and interesting business, should become one of the baseball franchises that blows up its roster every year, in perpetuity. In other words, the GM should assess the talent every year, and trade the club’s best players–year after year. Under this system, the fans and scribes can mire themselves in joyful pleasure of guessing who is the next to go. Lord, I get excited just thinking about it. 

    • Artthiel

      Dallen35,
        As you may have noticed with the Mariners, it is blow up, or be blown up.  

  • Matt

    “More painful would be the departure of Hernandez, because of his youth. But his talent puts him nearly in the Alex Rodriguez class, which means he’s destined for a big market.”

    Trade him because he’s too good? Are we that pathetic here that we can’t have a superstar Player?

    • Artthiel

      Matt,
         Well, yes. Or did you miss the point that Griffey, Rodriguez and Johnson forced their departures?

  • Brett

    “At $18 million, he makes way too much money for a singles hitter. But remember, baseball is warped right now. If Ichiro were packaged with a pitcher such as League, and the Mariners agreed to eat some salary, the roster would reap a return of at least two 2012 starters from a desperate team, plus prospects.”  
    I feel like the entire article is based on this statement, which holds absolutely no truth at all.  Who are these mysterious scouts and GMs that are willing to give up two starters for a 37 year old outfielder and a closer with a low strikeout rate?

  • Jwarnick

    Art,

    Griffey, Johnson and A-Rod were before Safeco. We had no money then. We do now. Ichiro makes $18 million! We have King signed until after the Ichiro contract expires! We will have plenty of $ to keep him once Ichiro is off the books and unlike the other 3 he has expressed no desire to leave. Let’s stop with every columnist trying to convince the team and public he should.

  • Josephkabel

    One great article!!!!!…….None of us have forever……And you’re right….the Lincolns and Armstrongs of this world are not risk takers……as they say in Vegas…..”they’re just not players”……and we deserve better….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Brig-Boring/518999379 Brig Boring

    Stay the course.  That’s a good one.  I love this ‘Titanic” course were on.  We shoul have stayed the course when Pat Gillick was here.  But the resident geniuses (Lincoln and Armstrong)  ran him off.

  • Lou Novikoff

    You are right, Art, about the need for a real shakeup.  Trade Ichiro?  You bet.  His hits now are flares and grounders thru the infield.  He no longer squares up on the ball and his outfield range has shrunk.  Felix, though, should be added to the list of untouchables.  You also underrate the benefit of a stable Smoak/Ackley/Ryan/Seager infield over the next several years.  But anyone else on the roster should be made available in trade.  If he can’t be traded,  Figgins should simply be cut and his ridiculous contract eaten.
    Jack Wilson, Cust, Kennedy, Pauley, Laffey, Wright, Ray and Gray conceivably could be of use to a contending team.   Their value will only go downhill from here.

  • LJW

    Art,
    I am in total agreement, have been for sometime and get looked at like I am a crazy SOB when I talk with way… Ichiro, have always had the feeling that we are paying way to much for him… All Star status the last few years and a few amazing defensive plays have blinded the fan base. This year you see the real Ichiro, a 37 year old singles hitter who is past his prime. I would see only a couple teams reaching out and making an offer for him, the Red Sox are an example of a team that may take him. Package him with League and get him out of here please…

    Next is Felix, it pains me so much cause he is young and talented, but I agree with you, think about the value in return… Every team that thinks they are 1 pitcher away will jump at him and he would yield a 4 to 5 player return with majority 2012 ready!

    This is also killing me, Wilson and Figgins, the saviors of the infield are sitting the bench watching younger more talented players doing the job… Releasing is not an option, and not team may take the chance, unless you got a team that is really in need of a better SS… ie Milwaukee may take a chance on Wilson, the price will be super low for them and he will be back in the NL Central playing against his old team the Pirates. Figgins is just a mess, he can’t field, he can’t hit, and to watch him you know he hates it in Seattle, trading him to the Campeche Pirates of the Mexican League may be the only option… I would rather have a dozen chickens over Figgins right now…

  • Anonymous

    This is an understandable position, but I don’t believe I could pull the trigger if I’m Jack. Bone fide number one starters are hard to come by. Felix is insanely special. While pitchers come with a lot of risk, they also come with a lot of upside. The workload Felix has taken on, with the great consistent results, is just not something you can give up for prospects easily.

  • Danfwtwilson

    Ichiro Suzuki should still stay with Seattle Mariners. Without him, it won’t be the same.

    • Michael Kaiser

      I sure hope it wouldn’t be the same.

  • Quinn Kelly

    The Mariners have one of the best pitching staffs in the American League. All they need, in my opinion, are a couple of big bats (at DH and the outfield). Management continues to make lousy decisions re: which free agents to sign (Byrne, Bradley, Cust). I should think that a couple of worthwhile free-agent power hitters could be persuaded to sign with the M’s as the missing ingredients in what has the potential to be a playoff team. I say act soon while the pitching is dominant. Many of these 2-0, 1-0 losses could be turned into 5-2, 4-1 wins. 

  • Davis Jones

    I don’t like you. You don’t trade Felix. He is a young piece we actually have in place for the future. Whats the point of back tracking again.

  • Angry Raccoon

    “Cigarette and blindfold”…excellent idea for a bobblehead!

  • Ellard Souza

    Bad owners never win…. they hire bad mangers, GM’s and VP’s… the Mariners have crappy owners…..they don’t get it and never will….. you can’t teach someone to be “funny” or “witty”  you either are born that way or are not. 

  • Stephen_f

    Trading them would be pointless as getting 2012 ready prospects would not help. There is no guarantee they will produce soon or at all. With Felix we at least know we will have a young ace that is better than most pitchers out there and will be better than any prospect we can pick up. And its not like the Mariners are too broke to pay for their salaries.

  • Estip

    It would be nice if the Mariners wouldn’t always have to celebrate what happened years ago….

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Taylor-Hope/1578720105 Taylor Hope

    Yes, let’s trade a top 5 pitcher in the MLB– the one player that is guaranteed to be all-star caliber on the Mariners for years to come (who wants an extension beyond 2014 mind you!) for a bunch of minor league talent, who more than likely will not pan out, will come to be mediocre, or leave Seattle 2 years after because there are more fruitful opportunities elsewhere. The roster plan for the Mariners is not a hard one. Cement great pitching for many years into the future, and acquire bats that can put up 4 runs every night. We do that, we win 90 or so games for all those seasons. We are honestly a couple good bats away from contending next season. We put those guys in the lineup and allow guys like Smoak to drop to 6 in the order every night and it’s a whole different ballgame for the M’s offense.

    Blowing up this roster would be ridiculous. Give me a break.

  • Steve

    Here is my trade proposal, and I’m a Tigers fan: Trade Miguel Cabrera, Rick Porcello, and Andy Oliver to Seattle for King Felix, Jason Vargas, and Adam Kennedy. With the trade, Seattle picks up two quality starters and arguably the best hitter in the league, and the Tigers bolster their rotation with a Verlander-Felix tandem at the top of the rotation. I understand Justin Smoak is your first baseman, but he’s no Miguel Cabrera. With the move, you can put Cabrera at first, and make Smoak your DH, or vice versa, and make that lineup one that opposing teams don’t want to face. And as a Tigers fan, I’d like to see them make this deal, if Seattle is willing, then go after Prince Fielder in free agency.

  • Nick

    It was Civic Stadium in the 80s and 90s.

  • Nick

    It was Civic Stadium in the 80s and 90s.

  • Cruddly

    I don’t know who needed this game more — the Huskies — to stop the bleeding and set the course right, or the Cougars — to save the coach’s job, and just to win a damn game.  I guess the Huskies, since they were headed in the wrong direction and falling fast.  This win propels them into the post season with a little momentum.  Let’s just hope they don’t end up playing Nebraska in some god awful bowl on ESPN 19 where the stands are half empty and the temperature hover around 35.

  • headoutofsand

    Aw, why does Art or any of the rest of us need to “eat our words” over a missed prediction?  Even the supposed know-it-alls who set the lines in Las Vegas don’t have that great a winning percentage, overall.  And that gets to the heart of why none of us should get all cuckoo when our “favored” team ends up losing.  It’s one thing to step out on the ledge when the Huskies of 1985 lose to 37-point underdog Oregon State.  But, when 6-point favorite Washington lost to the Beavers a couple games ago, I truly wasn’t left with my mouth agape, as experience has taught some of us a 6-point spread isn’t all that far from a toss-up.  Dennis Erickson is out of a job today in large part because his favored Sun Devils lost to WSU.    
     
    As a related side-issue to this, if you bet on football games for any length of time, you’ll lose.  The agony of sitting through all the ups and downs of a 3-plus-hour game before knowing if you won or lost is hard enough on a person’s health, and that’s even if you win.  When you lose, well, it’s the depths of hell.  Those of us who left the betting life are much better off — we’ve discovered the games themselves are entertainment enough.  

  • DavidK

    If Nick Holt could just show some progress with the defense…

  • TrytoBlockBIGRED…..

    It wouldnt be shocking if RGIII goes #1…. Matt Barkley is probably going to be the qb within drafting range. RG3 is legit, Luck is ready now, and Barkley looks like a steal from picks 7-12. Where the Hawks sit now, the cost to trade up to top 5 is too much. I would rather make a run at the wild card than “whiff for griff”            Even @ 5-7, the league is FINALLY getting “punched in the mouth” by a very physical team. I love how big and nasty Carroll and Schneider are building this team. GO SEAHAWKS!!!

    • Mattdangoscheer

      That’s what I’m talkin bout!

  • Bayviewherb

    Actually, there are probably 6 or 7 great QB prospects out there. One wonders though, if Luck didn’t have that pro-like offensive line, if he would still look that good?

  • Michael Kaiser

    “The [VERY] early-ought Mariners as [having] a winning [season] (not franchise).”

  • Artthiel

    Colin,
       The Mariners gambled they could re-sign him after their 2000 run to the ALCS. They were wrong. They weren’t stupid, just wrong. But the loss of blood is still the same, and franchises outside of the big media markets can’t afford to lose that much blood.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/colinokeefe Colin O’Keefe

    Get a grip.

    In the four seasons from 2000-2003 they won 393 games and packed Safeco consistently. They were in the upper echelon of MLB franchises during that time period, which is about half a decade—and obviously not just a season. 

  • Michael Kaiser

    How many people pack Safeco field clearly has never had any substantive correlation with Mariners’ success, because the Mariners never have had success, at least any success that other parts of the country–the non-homers– would cite.  And the Mariners never have been in the “upper echelon” of anything except for number of fans turning out for the latest bobblehead giveaway.  

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H2QOWAGABOJS3C7EETQ4KKBRUA have a good one…

    Thank you to a person who understands context and the nuances of history. True, we did not make the playoffs in 02/03, but it is kind of hard to criticize two seasons in which we played very solid, well rounded baseball and won 90+ in each. At the time the AL West was one of, and perhaps could be argued the, toughest divisions in baseball.
     
    No post-season, but you could hardly call those two years failures.

  • Artthiel

    Colin, 
       Indeed, it was a good run. But they had to be better than only three other teams to make the playoffs. Couldn’t do it. There is no counter-argument. 

  • http://www.linkedin.com/in/colinokeefe Colin O’Keefe

    Wins/MLB Attendance rank
    2000: 91/10th
    2001: 116/1st
    2002: 93/1st
    2003: 93/2nd

    And the two ALCS appearances, of course.

    If that isn’t success, I can’t help you.

  • Artthiel

    There is a decent argument for staying the course. Just as Neville Chamberlain had an argument for peace in our time. If the reference is obscure, JFGI (just f——- google it).

  • Arttthiel

    Have, 
      Fair point, except he hit .328 in April. He, his nation, and baseball fans would be relieved and enlightened if he shared his burden. 

  • Artthiel

    Have,
        The 116 win season was one of the epic feats in baseball history. The salute Saturday is richly deserved. Nor has anyone said 90 wins was a failure. But the Mariners are now 50 percent of the teams who’ve never been to the World Series.  

  • Anonymous

    You can’t seriously be comparing a continued commitment to building a baseball team via its own prospects and minor league system with capitulating to Hitler through appeasement.  BTW, I didn’t need to Google it…Some of us great unwashed who read SportspressNW know who Neville Chamberlain was.  But thanks for the condescension.

  • Jerryj

    Making money is the bottom line for  all professional sports – even soccer.  Of course the Mariners are hyping the 2001 season to help attendance.  So what.  Were you born yesterday?

  • Michael Kaiser

    Speaking of soccer, I will be at Q-West on Wednesday watching a franchise that understands excellence and what it takes to build and sustain.  
    However, I also will say that I have come around to the idea that the 2001 Mariners deserve to be celebrated, to a point.  However, enough of the 9/11 excuses.  It might have made for better theatre if NY had won it all.  Yes, the Mariners momentum may have been halted a bit by the events of 9/11, but it also seems that the team went into coast mode, at least to some extent, toward the end of the season anyway, irrespective of 9/11.

  • Jerryj

    The Sounders know what it takes to build and sustain a franchise?
    How long have they been around? 3 or 4 years?  Wait until they hit an extended dry spell before  making any judgement on the Sounders.  Better yet, wait about 20 years(if their league is still in existence.)
    Wait a minute, aren’t the Sounders kind of like a a bunch of scrubs when compared to the premiere leagues of England and Europe?  So who cares if they fold?

  • Michael Kaiser

    I am talking about Machester United!  Of course not any Seattle franchise.