Dear Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers Football Club:
Do you remember the game in the photo above? It was a Wednesday in August of 2011, the Timbers beat Chivas USA 1-0, and we were in Section 105, standing and singing. That was the game when the Timbers Army passed out all those City of Portland flags, and everyone really put their hearts into “Rose City Til I Die” that evening. But mostly I remember it as the night when my wife crossed over to join us in utter commitment to PTFC.
I’d became a Timbers fan the year before, when I’d flown out to Portland from Charleston, SC, for about a month while I went through a training program. My former college roommate, himself a native of the Carolinas, got me hooked. A year later, my wife and I planned our vacation around your home schedule. Now I’m a card-carrying member of the 107IST who subscribes to both MLS DirectKick and MLS Live in order to watch your games.
I say all of this as a man so changed by the experience of Soccer City, USA, that I returned to Charleston in 2011 with the idea that it was practically my civic duty to support my local club and join my local soccer community. This year I took a big step by starting a soccer news site devoted solely to soccer and soccer culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry. And when people ask me why, I often say it’s because I’ve been to Portland, and I know what a community of soccer fans can do when they’re networked and connected and aware of their power.
And then I invariably talk about you and your franchise, and all the things you do right.
So, to put it bluntly, I’m kind of out on a limb here because of you.
Which means that when I heard today from someone in the Charleston Battery’s front office that the Battery’s U.S. Open Cup match against your U-23s isn’t going to be livestreamed from JELD-WEN Field on Tuesday night, I was speechless. Because I’m always talking about what a visionary owner you are. And this doesn’t make any sense.
Which means, Merritt, that I’m going to need you to get involved on this one. Because we need that match to be streamed to the fans here in Charleston.
We need it, first, because the Open Cup needs it. It’s 100 years old this year, and while it doesn’t mean as much to some MLS franchises, it means the world to a small club like Charleston. We don’t date back to the 1970s like yours does, and we’ll probably never compete in the top tier, but the Battery have been in continuous operation since 1993 and the Open Cup is a big part of our season every year. We need to see Tuesday’s game because we need to treat the Cup with a bit more love and respect than it’s gotten. It’s a tradition in American soccer that should be honored by all fans.
But we also need to see that game here in Charleston because we need to see the Battery take the field at the finest soccer venue in North America. Do you think there’s a finer soccer palace on the continent? I don’t. I want to see our local guys play an Open Cup match against a PDL team at a stadium where thousands of fans will not only show up, but many will spend the full 90 on their feet, singing and cheering. Those might be just your U-23s, but they wear the Timbers shirt, and that means everything to your fans. And your fans are the gold standard. We need to show the world how Portland supports a PDL team in the Cup.
We need to see that match livestreamed because we respect those players on your PDL squad. Nobody here takes them lightly, and we know how easy it would be for our 2013 Open Cup campaign to end right there in the Rose City without the Battery ever hosting a match at Blackbaud Stadium. I know you understand this, too. My blood pressure goes nuts whenever someone mentions the name “Cal FC.” Which, fortunately, seldom ever happens. Other than right now.
Finally, we need it because it’s about love. You wear your passion for the game on your sleeve. That’s why you took those donuts out to those Timbers fans standing in line for tickets. It’s why you get mad about lousy officiating and Tweet stuff you probably shouldn’t, and get fined, and swear off it, and then come back and crack everyone up with quips about looking for garbage cans. So I gotta figure that someone who cares that much has got to respect others who feel the same way. We gotta have that livestream because you love the game, you love the Cup, you love tradition and you love the future of soccer in America. Think of all the ways a gesture like agreeing to livestream the Charleston game will help build the little connections that grow our North American soccer culture.
Plus, dude, what about me? I’m like DESPERATELY working every angle I can think of to subtly steer the Battery’s best players toward Portland (“Hey, great game, Colin. You know where else they have great games? At JELD-WEN Field.”) instead of Seattle and Vancouver, and this whole livestream fail is TOTALLY undermining my efforts.
So, bottom line: You’ll have to pay to have someone man the video cameras. But we’d do the same for you. In fact, if we win Tuesday, the Battery will livestream their match against the San Jose Earthquakes on May 28th. But other than the broadcast staff, you don’t have to pay for the streaming rights. The Open Cup staff want you to do it. Besides, this little act of good will and transcontinental soccer love will be greatly appreciated, while probably costing you a lot less than whatever you’re still paying Hanyer Mosquera. Not to mention whatever it cost to send Kris Boyd packing.
Up The Battery
(Hey readers: To show your support for livestreaming the Timbers U-23s home U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery on May 21, Tweet your sentiments to @MerrittPaulson with the hashtag #streamthematch. He’s a good guy. He’ll listen.)
23:15 UPDATE: Got a phone call from my friend John Sloop in Nashville who took part in the #streamthematch push congratulating us on the success of the effort. Told him I had no idea what he was talking about, because we hadn’t heard anything. But here’s what he got:
@jmsloop we will stream the game but no announcers.Clean feed.Not something we do w U-23s . Exception only cause i like charleston
— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) May 20, 2013