August 18, 2012
Remembering one Timber player who was tough one to chop down many years ago
By Michael Lewis
You could say that I have been around for a while.
How long? Well, I remember the original Portland Timbers in the original North American Soccer League.
Heck, I covered games in the NASL as a young sportswriter with the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and I covered three games that the Timbers played in Rochester in the late seventies and in those games, Willie Anderson tallied against the home team for 3-2 extratime wins in each of those encounters.
With the 21st century version of the Timbers ready to take on the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Sunday at 7 p.m. (MSG), I thought I would take a quick look back on the other Timbers and Anderson.
Previewing Anderson and the Timbers' NASL match vs. the Lancers, I wrote this lead in the D&C on June 23, 1979:
As the axiom goes, there are only two sure things in life -- death and taxes. For the Rochester Lancers, there could be another sure thing: Portland's Willie Anderson will score the winning goal in overtime.
The 32-year-old Anderson has scored only seven goals in his four-year North American Soccer League career, but he saves his best for the Lancers.
Anderson, better known for his passing ability, was dubbed the nickname, "Lancers' Killer."
When I told him about his nickname, Anderson laughed and replied: "I have no idea why I've done so well against the lancers. I've always been at the right place at the right time. All of them have beej good goals. I just hope it's the same way Friday night."
Here's a quick look at Anderson's feats with his feet:
On May 27, 1975, Anderson scored a goal with 2:02 left in the second extratime to give the Timbers a home win. The goal was Anderson's first as Timber, against goalkeeper Ardo Perri.
"The ball came out of the box from a scramble in front of the net," Anderson said. "It came right to me and I scored.
Anderson missed the Lancers' 1-0 victory over Portland in 1976. He was in England because Cardiff City, then of the English Second Division, refused to loan him to Portland, Anderson said. The timbers bought his contract before the 1977 season.
On June 17, 1977, Anderson scored to end the Lancers' 14-game home winning streak. He beat defender Jim Pollihan in a foot race for the ball and knocked the ball past goalkeeper Jack Bran with three minutes remaining in the second extratime.
"Stewart Scullion saw me on the right wing and he passed long to me," Anderson said. "I happened to get the ball before Jim did. It's ironic because we're quite friendly because of the players' union.
Finally, on April 23, 1978, Anderson tallied with 51 seconds left in the first extratime past keeper Jim May to give Portland home win.
"That is the most memorable goal I scored against the Lancers," Anderson said. "It was one of the best I ever scored. I got a long cross from Clyde Best and I volleyed it in from the far post.
When he was asked what his secret was after the game, Anderson replied that he did not like Yugoslavians. The Lancers had several Yugoslavians on their team.
Needless to say, that caused a minor furor. Anderson said "that I was just kidding."
The Lancers finally stopped Anderson in 1979 as Rochester goalkeeper Shep Messing -- yes the same Shep Messing who is the analyst on Red Bulls' game -- denied Anderson's shootout attempt (the real, 35-yard version, not a penalty kick) as the Lancers recorded a2-1 win over Portland.
Will there be another Willie Anderson emerging for this version of the Portland Timbers? Only time will tell.