Yesterday Morgen and I attended our first Portland Timbers match down at PGE Park. The Timbers are the USL First Division (United Soccer Leagues) club here in Portland and are a fixture in the local sports scene. The original Timbers were founded in 1975 as part of the North American Soccer League, the same one featuring Pelé, Franz Beckenbauer and Johan Cruyff. Though there have been several manifestations of the Timbers as different leagues have started and folded, the current Timbers have existed since 2001.
The Timbers have the most vocal and European-like fan club in all of American soccer with the group called the Timbers Army. They sit in the North End of PGE Park where they stand, jump, chant, sing and cheer for the entire ninety minutes. For years they were led by semi-mascot Timber Jim who carried a chainsaw and worse overalls and a beard. Though Timber Jim has now retired, Timber Joey, an actual lumberjack, now eggs on the crowd with his long chainsaw and cuts of wood.
As far as the actual game was concerned, Portland and Montreal looked pretty evenly matched through most of the first half. But Mandjou Keita opened the game up with a goal for the Timebers and the momentum completely changed. Keita scored again just after half-time before Portland added two more goals in the second half for a resounding 4-0 victory.
With the stadium just about eight blocks from our apartment, it’s very easy for us to walk down and support the Timbers. We’ve already got tickets for Wednesday’s US Open Cup Third Round match with arch-rivals Seattle Sounders of MLS, as well as Thursday’s friendly with Bayern Munich’s reserve side. I’m not planning on joining the Timbers Army just yet, but to have a well-supported (7700 at yesterday’s match) and successful soccer club in this country’s second-highest level is just another perk to living here in Portland.