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My Timbers vs. Sounders Experience

July 15, 2011

Big Boi on the iPod had me all pumped up as I rode the Max through downtown Portland this past Sunday. Everyone on-board was so upbeat that I felt like I was on my way to a Blazers playoff game or something. The Timbers were hosting the hated Sounders for the first time ever at Jeld-Wen and I had a Timbers Army ticket. (Thanks Dave!) Nationally the game was broadcast on ESPN. Many in MLS circles called it the “league game of the year.” Only Sounders/Whitecaps has a more storied rivalry (by one year) in all of American soccer. The two teams played to a draw back in May at Qwest. Now it was the Timbers Army’s chance to show the country just how devoted this fanbase is. Several writers have done a far better job than I could at recapping the action so I’ll just stick to my experience at the game itself.

  • What an insanely nice day first of all. I literally can’t imagine better weather to watch a game outside. I think at kickoff it was sunny and 80ish degrees with a light breeze.
  • Some vendor outside wanted $35 for a Timbers scarf which says “Sound Proof” on one side. Sorry buddy. I can barely justify spending $20 for one. Which reminds me. I need to get a TA scarf. I’d actually pay $35 for one of those.
  • Because I was curious, I offered to sell my Timbers Army ticket to a scalper outside. The face value with fees was $30. He offered me $80 and I’m pretty confident I could have gotten $100. One of the guys I sat with who had been outside Jeld-Wen since 8 AM this morning told me he was offered $120 for his ticket. Extra time to resell equals more money offered.
  • The last time I visited PGE Park was early last season when the Timbers were still a USL squad. So I was excited to see what improvements Merritt Paulson had made. Apart from the seating areas and field itself, everything seemed relatively unchanged. The concourses are still narrow and the bathroom I used still had far too few urinals (I mean come on, SIX of them!?) in it to support 16,000 fans. Lines were long.
  • Even though ushers assured me there is no reserved seating in Timbers Army sections, strangely enough fans didn’t feel the same way. Imagine that! Initially I just found an open bench and sat down. Someone came over and told me that entire bench area was reserved for people who hadn’t shown up yet. I probably tried 5-6 more bench areas and got the exact same response. “We’re holding these seats.” So I asked the usher again, are you SURE this area is general admission? People can’t save seats right? The usher, almost annoyed now, says “Yes. You cannot reserve seats.” Rather than raise a fuss with fans who obviously ignore this rule, I just wandered around until I finally found a spot. But before I did, the usher who initially helped me said “We’re working to enforce the rules so people can’t hold seats.” I’m sure that will go over real well with the Timbers Army faithful. Good luck!
  • The pre-game signage was epic. Loved the “Quality over Quantity” banner and of course “King of Clubs.” Kudos to whoever creates that stuff. Not to mention the folks who organized raising these monsters after the national anthem.

 

  • I must have seen at least 50 middle fingers throughout the game. That figure may be a little low. It could have been closer to 100. How many times have I seen Blazers fans flip off the court? I’m sure I could count that on one hand and I’ve been to many more Blazers games. Soccer fans are an interesting bunch. And by interesting I mean slightly obsessed. In a good way! Sometimes.
  • Speaking of interesting, at one point a Sounders player went down with an injury (a real one) and the crowd started chanting “You’re-going-home-in-a-Portland-ambulance” while giving him the bird. There were three kids sitting behind me. None of them could have been older than 14-15 or so and the youngest was definitely under 10. Without going off on a tangent, let’s just say I was surprised to see children in such an adult-oriented seating area. That said, I was chanting too. So I can’t bag on fans too much. It was a funny moment!
  • Watching the Timbers Army officers lead fans in fight songs was pretty funny at times too. Whenever fan energy started to die down, they would get this concerned look on their faces and motion for people to pick it up! One guy actually looked annoyed! As I said, an interesting bunch. Hard to fault them for their enthusiasm though.

 

  • As people filed out after the game, I didn’t see any altercations between Sounders and Timbers fans. On the Max ride home, I caught a glimpse of the 500 seat section where (mostly) ECS fans were sitting. Nearly all of them were still there. Have to think that was the plan all along. Can’t have 500 Sounders fans mixing with 16,000 Timbers fans who just lost to their bitter rival at home.

Our team lost. Long story short, a red card in the second half killed them. The game would have at least been a draw without that free kick. Many hardcore Timbers fans probably walked away depressed that the team lost to the Sounders at home. I walked away grateful that I experienced something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I was at Jeld-Wen Field the first time the Timbers hosted the Sounders as MLS clubs. And if the atmosphere at Sunday’s game was any indication of future matchups, I’m sure someone will offer me $200 for my $30 Army ticket someday; and I still won’t sell it.

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