BOOKED! The 1975 Portland Timbers: The Birth of Soccer City USAMichael Orr's small book about the amazing story behind the birth of the Portland Timbers
by Chris Enger | Tuesday, April 03, 2012
It’s no secret that the addition of the Portland Timbers into Major League Soccer is already a success. The team packs JELD-WEN Field for every home match, and the team shares a bond with the fans and city that is the envy of most teams in the league.
In his book The 1975 Portland Timbers: The Birth of Soccer City, USA, Michael Orr tells the Timbers’ history, creation and its first year in the North American Soccer League.
Orr weaves the nuances of the coaching and personnel challenges with a match-by-match breakdown of each Timbers win and loss.
Easily, the book could have been longer, but Orr sets his sights on detailing just 1975 and all the events that transpired during Portland’s inspired run through their league matches and into the playoffs.
Broken down by certain focal points in the season, from the team’s creation and inception, to their first home stand, from the most difficult road trip to the final playoff push and finally the playoffs themselves, Orr’s book is separated into a logically flowing, non-overwhelming manner that is in depth without going overboard with details.
The author weaves in just the essential information, so we are not stuck trying to force our way through a historical text. Anecdotally, the story pushes along giving us both a story and information on some of the more critical junctures the team faced with dealing with the city of Portland and the English Football League.
However, more than just dates, match summaries, and narrative retellings, Orr shines descriptively in reliving – not just retelling or recapping – each match during that inaugural season. Each match is vivid, bright, intense, and significant. The environment and atmosphere of the games are living organisms. The tactics and goal are works of art not merely words on a page. It is as if each and every leaflet brings you back to 1975 for each and every match.
Through Orr’s writing, we see the budding of the Portland and Seattle soccer rivalry and how it grew into the heated derby it is today. Orr analyzes the consequence those initial matches had in forming the enmity between the two teams not only through the evocations of what happened in each match, but in what and how the teams celebrated in victory or agonized over in defeat.
This, however, was only the story of one solitary year. And at only 111 pages, it left me wanting more. Orr built this story of the team in 1975 and left the last three pages to tell the following 30 plus years of history after that first year. Logically, this makes sense. Still, I was left with one nagging question after reading the book. Why exactly was the agreement between the Football League and the NASL going to be a disaster for the Timbers? This point was never clarified. But, maybe that’s a story for another book.
Ultimately, Orr does a great job penning the history of the birth of Soccer City, USA. The book won’t disappoint the longtime American soccer fan or newbie … as long as they’re not from Seattle.
Pickup your copy direct from the publishers at FC Media for $25 including shipping. Also available at bookshops throughout Oregon and as a downloadable e-book from various websites.