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What the Portland Timbers Mean to the Credibility of MLS

portland timbers 300x300 What the Portland Timbers Mean to the Credibility of MLSNow that the United States national team has assured itself a place in the 2010 World Cup, the American soccer community can turn its attention back to the domestic game. This season has been unlike any other in recent memory, as both Major League Soccer and the United Soccer Leagues have produced compelling story lines throughout 2009. Many will argue that some of those stories have negatively impacted the development of top-flight football in this country, as the recent sale of the USL has caused dissension among the league’s clubs.

Nevertheless, football’s collective stock has never been higher in the United States, as Major League Soccer has consolidated its brand and the league’s future appears extremely bright. Readers should bear in mind that MLS is only fourteen years old, and while the early years were marred by attempts to “Americanize” the world’s game (see club names like Tampa Bay Mutiny et al.), the league office has now created a single party line intent on establishing a viable form of professional football. The knock-on effect from the David Beckham experiment has exposed MLS to new audiences, and the league is now mentioned alongside AC Milan on Sky Sports News and in La Gazzettta dello Sport. Yet the recent success of MLS lies in the league’s ability to select markets capable of supporting true football culture.

There are many great sporting cities across the United States, but few are truly able to sustain the organic supporters subculture associated with the beautiful game. Lets face it, soccer supporters are a unique breed. While the gridiron faithful may claim that consuming copious amounts of red meat quantifies fandom, proper football fans know better. After all, the relationship between soccer supporters and their clubs is not forged by gross mass-marketing. Rather, football culture is a tribal experience that binds supporters to their individual sides through triumph and adversity. To see contemporary examples of this observe a football match in Barcelona, where a football club literally carried the language and traditions of the Catalan people under Fascist oppression. On Merseyside football is a distinct way of life, as lifestyles are determined by declaring allegiance to Everton or Liverpool Football Club. London, Rome, Buenos Aires – football culture is the beating heart of these various urban centers.

Major League Soccer took massive strides in cementing this type of fervent football passion in North America by bringing league play to the Pacific Northwest. That is not to say that fan culture in cities like Toronto and Washington D.C. is not stellar, but the obvious success of Seattle Sounders FC has raised the bar. Each weekend 35,000 supporters pack Qwest Field in an unprecedented display of support. There is no question that the chanting rave green masses have elevated the standard for supporters culture across MLS. If you don’t believe me simply scroll down this website to Major League Soccer’s glaring attendance figures.

1395199085 559c9af8f7 What the Portland Timbers Mean to the Credibility of MLS

Soccer City indeed: The Timbers Army

Yet despite the attention surrounding the Sounders, Portland’s 2011 entrance into the American top-flight will raise the bar once more. Simply stated, Portland has the best set of supporters in American soccer. Before the backlash begins, allow me to explain. Working in the Pacific Northwest soccer scene has given me a unique insight into the Interstate 5 corridor. From Portland to Vancouver, this part of North America is rife with football support that stems from large expatriate communities and local ties to the defunct North American Soccer League. Carrying the self-proclaimed title of “Soccer City USA”, Portland can bear this label because no other city rallies behind a second tier club in the same manner as Timbers fans.

The Rose City has not seen top-flight football since the NASL folded in 1984, yet PGE Park’s attendances swell over 10,000 routinely in the second division. In fact the Timbers averaged 9,734 fans per match in 2009 while playing in the United Soccer Leagues. This figure becomes more significant when weighed against Seattle’s 2008 USL average attendance. While the current Sounders are renowned for their overwhelming fan support, in the USL the club could not muster more than 2,500 fans on a regular basis. Meanwhile, Vancouver sold out Swangard Stadium regularly in 2009, but the current ground seats just over 5,000 spectators for USL play.

When compared with their rivals Portland’s home support is staggering, and the fan base is hardly composed of fickle members. The main supporters group is known as the Timbers Army, and this ravenous hoard devotes itself to vocally imposing itself on Timbers matches for 90 minutes. The TA is invariably contrasted with Seattle’s Emerald City Supporters, and while the Sounders faithful have backed their team admirably this season, this same fervor was lacking in the USL. Portland’s fan base is primed for Major League Soccer, and the fantastic support that is on display each week in the USL will thrive once the Timbers make the jump to the top-flight.

Part of what makes football such a visceral experience is the rivalry that surrounds the sport. The size of the United States and Canada makes traditional derby matches difficult to come by, but this is not the case in the Pacific Northwest. Once Portland and Vancouver join Seattle in MLS the North American soccer public will see mass away support for the first time in the continent’s history. Yes, a fair number of fans make the trek from Toronto to Columbus each year, but those numbers will pale in comparison to the away support in 2011.

The Portland-Seattle derby is of particular interest. With the two cities only two and a half hours from each other fans will be eager to renew this great rivalry. In the summer of 2009 the two sides squared off in the U.S. Open Cup and the atmosphere at PGE Park was simply the best I have encountered in North America. It was reminiscent of an English F.A. Cup match-up between a Premier League side and a relegated second division rival. Over 16,000 supporters packed the ground, and Seattle’s 1,000 away fans were a sign of things to come. The Timbers Army was incredibly vocal, orchestrating brilliant displays and waving numerous green and white checkered flags. Derby matches are crucial in developing the intensity of the American game, and Portland’s arrival will signal a new era in this regard.

keita goal What the Portland Timbers Mean to the Credibility of MLS

Keita celebrates against Seattle in the U.S. Open Cup third round.

Lastly, the current Timbers side isn’t half bad either. In 2009 the club claimed the Commissioner’s Cup as regular season champions, as Portland went on a 24-match unbeaten run and led the USL First Division in scoring. Manager Gavin Wilkinson was named Coach of the Year, and club President Merritt Paulson announced this week that Wilkinson will remain on board for the 2010 season. While it remains to be seen if Wilkinson will be at the helm in 2011, one thing is clear: this is a football club that can make an immediate impact at the next level. PGE Park is an intimate football venue, and with renovations on the way this atmosphere will only improve. Wilkinson is a top manager, and there are a number of players on the current roster that could continue playing at the next level. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin was recently loaned to D.C. United for the remainder of their season, while Mandjou Keita set the USL alight this season by scoring 11 goals.

If Major League Soccer is truly going to become a top domestic league passionate fan bases are needed to support well organized clubs. While this concept appears relatively obvious, it is a much more difficult notion to master. Clubs like Toronto and Seattle have certainly done their part, and Portland will add another level of authenticity in 2011. After all authenticity is the key. Portland’s fan base is already incredibly loyal in the second division, and this zeal will continue to grow once the club is playing in MLS. Derby matches are essential in fostering passion for this sport, and once Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver begin playing each other in MLS a new era will be underway. For anyone interested in seeing the beautiful game thrive in our corner of the world this will be a decisive moment, and personally I can’t wait.

59 Responses to What the Portland Timbers Mean to the Credibility of MLS

  1. Vnice says:

    Hell yes…my team! In fact, they are part of the reason I am relocating to Portland. That and the left wing political atmosphere and bike scene.

  2. eplnfl says:

    Alex, this piece was just a joy to read. Especially since your comments are so on target.

  3. Derek says:

    Portland will be great for MLS. There support for USL has been ridiculous. It’s amazing.

    I hope someday South Florida gets a team back and we pull a Toronto(sub-Andy Dick movie attendance for USL, sold out for MLS). I’m truly jealous of the soccer scene in the Pacific Northwest.

  4. Derek says:

    *Their support for USL. D’oh!

  5. Seybold says:

    Great article, I agree Portland fans will raise the bar, they’re superb and have been for a long time. I went down there for the 1997 USA-Costa Rica qualifier, and it was a madhouse–I had to put earplugs in!

    And that was 1/2 hour before the match started.

  6. dan says:

    I agree the portland, seattle, vancouver rivalry and attendence will be off the wall, east coast wise i would say toronto, columbus ,and dc have the best fan bases. I know alot of you guys wonder why columbus has a team. Well the reason is there are alot of soccer fans there and they love the crew. One of the greatest moments of my life was haveing the opurtunity of setting foot on the crew field at Crew Stadium back in 99. i cant believe its been ten years since that stadium was built. Out of all the stadiums in the MLS, Crew stadium will always be special place for me. sorry if i got sidetrack just a lil home sick, yea i cant wait for 2011. Should be an amazing year.

  7. Paul says:

    I am looking forward to the rest of the country finding out what the Cascadia Cup is all about. In 2011 Ptown, Sh*ttle and Wankcouver will establish themselves as the biggest rivalry in the MLS.

  8. Alex Caulfield says:

    Thanks for the feedback guys, it should be interesting in 2011 to say the least.

  9. Adam Edg says:

    I cannot wait for the rivalry to resume. Seattle continues to impress me in all ways; I can only imagine how aesome Vancouver and Portland will be. I have a feeling that those teams will bring about new trends in franchise locations for MLS (think St. Louis and/or Milwaukee to face Chicago or St. Louis vs KC, for example).
    Does anyone think that San Jose will ever be legitimately considered part of that rivalry, or should MLS focus on rebuilding their rivalry with LA (& Chivas)?

  10. Cavan says:

    We’ll try to match it here on the east coast when the Union joins the league and is immediate rivals with United and the Red Bulls. It’ll be great to have good rivalry corridors on both coasts.

    • Adam Edg says:

      I kind of wondered if Union would be able to spark a real derby-like rivalry over there. I’ve been diappointed that NY sucks so bad that the Revs have not sparked up a true rivalry akin to the Yankees-Red Sox. Then again, it does not seem like many other NY-Boston sports rivalries exist to that extent…
      I am excited to see what Union brigns to the table. I’m no Philly fan, but that is a great sports city and a strong soccer culture from what I understand. Great colors & awesome logo for the team too…

  11. Robert says:

    When is San Diego going to get a team?!

  12. Charles says:

    >>>and while the early years were marred by attempts to “Americanize” the world’s game (see club names like Tampa Bay Mutiny et al.)<<<
    .
    Yeah, you wouldn't want team names that Americans like while playing soccer in the US ? Let's face it the MLS were idiots when it came to the Sounders. They couldn't get Oki ( owner in the 90s ) to join the league, huge mistake. When they got the team to join, they wanted to name the team some stupid name like Seattle Club Football Association United, until the American fans revolted and voted overwhelmingly to keep the NASL name…which rocks.
    The Portland-Seattle rivalry is the most over-hyped thing ever. Vanvouver-Seattle was the rivalry. The Sounders were routinely drawing 25k to games in the NASL. Portland ? I am not looking it up, but I doubt even half that. Vancouver could pack them in, I used to worry they would have more fans coming down to Seattle than Seattle could muster, which was a lot. I am glad Portland is doing well with its fan base and on the field, but creating rivalries is more fake than the "grass" at QWest.
    By doing things like creating "derbies" ( calling them derbies too ) and using European team names to try to appease people that love the Europe game, rather than going after the average American, that WOULD and DOES love soccer, the MLS has caused the league to be less successful not more. The Sounders are 100% proof of that, with an average fairly ignorant soccer mom and dad as their fan base the rest of the league is missing.

    • Peter says:

      I disagree with this stupid assessment of seattle fans. Who cares of someone starts as a soccer mom? Everyone starts someplace and frankly this is a stupid petty comment by you that underscores your jealousy. There are a lot of people from Europe, Africa and South America that also go to these games and make up a large part of the fan base. I think by bringing it closer inline with the European standard you only make it better. I think the average fairly ignorant soccer mom and dad are just fine as a fan base. I am sure you also knew how to read and write when you were born and did not need to learn that skill anymore than your obvious egotistical grasp of our fan base. You are an ass.

  13. Edward says:

    Nice. For the record, though, Seattle played at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, WA, in 2008. I think 2,500 was the capacity. Do you have the attendance figures for 2007 and earlier for the three Cascadian teams?

  14. joshshshs says:

    adam wrote:

    “Does anyone think that San Jose will ever be legitimately considered part of that rivalry, or should MLS focus on rebuilding their rivalry with LA (& Chivas)? ”

    this is exactly whats currently wrong with mls. a league can’t build a rivalry.

  15. Charles says:

    joshshshs
    The problem isn’t that the MLS CAN’T build a rivalry, it is that the MLS NEEDS to build a rivalries. Get 50,000-100,000 fans in the seats in a great sport like soccer, nothing artificial like a Heritage Cup, which close to noone cares about, will be needed.
    ps. Heritage Cup is Seattle-SanJose IF, big IF anyone cares.

  16. Doug says:

    Edward: The home attendance figures (by game) for the USL for 2007, 2008, and 2009 can be found here:

    2007 – http://www.soccercityusa.com/2007uslatt.html
    2008 – http://www.soccercityusa.com/2008uslatt.html
    2009 – http://www.soccercityusa.com/2009uslatt.html

    Seattle’s first home game (against Portland) drew 10,000+, so they have played their first game somewhere else. Through the rest of the season their attendance high was 4,400 and they were over 3,000 in attendance in 8 of 15 games. Wherever they played their home games, they definitely had more than 2,500 seats.

    Portland has seen its support grow significantly since 2006 (the first year that I can find figures for). Their growth in 2008 was especially odd considering their team was the worst in the league and MLS wasn’t even remotely on the horizon yet.

  17. Fan says:

    “Simply stated, Portland has the best set of supporters in American soccer.”

    Simply stated, Major league Soccer Talk has the worst set of writers in American soccer.

    See how easy it is? Take a personal feeling, put it in unequivocal terms, and your make yourself an expert. It’s easy!

  18. WestSeattle says:

    Charles wrote:

    “. . . the MLS . . .”

    . . . and then he lost any remaining credibility he had after spewing a bunch of garbage.

    Charles you are full of shit. You argue that the Portland rivalry is fake? Why then do Sounder fans consider Portland our arch rival? Don’t waste your time claiming we don’t because that’s all over discussion boards and articles for everyone to read.

    Also, your argument is based on conditions 25-30 years ago. You don’t seriously intend to tell us nothing has changed in all that time do you?

    Get used to the fact that the world is not like it was when you were a flower child. Portland is Seattle’s arch rival – according to Sounder fans.

  19. Matt says:

    I’m a Sounders supporter in Seattle and am really looking fwd to both Portland and Vancouver joining, especially because both clubs are quality in USL which I’m sure will translate to quality teams when you guys join MLS.

    On the pitch during matches, I will hate your team, but outside of that…this is great for the teams, great for supporters, great for the cities, great for the league. I can’t wait for my annual weekend trips to Portland and Vancouver.

  20. bgix says:

    The Cascadia 3-way derby has always been special, predating it’s christening as the Cascadia. While anyone can claim that “their fans are the best” (Seattle, Portland, Toronto, DC) the proof will be in the away support generated by all sides for PDX-SEA-VAN. Is SEA-VAN more intense than SEA_PDX? I won’t even go there. Only, you can be sure that I will be there. Which is the whole point. I won’t have to buy a plane ticket, or take the day off work. My passport will need to be kept up to date (not too difficult since I’m in Vancouver probably 3-4 times a year already).

    But the point is that the article is more or less spot on. The rivalries the thing. PDX fans are great, but without SEA and VAN, they are just another Toronto with no place to go. Maybe Seattle’s home Portland and Vancouver ties will get us to open Qwest’s upper deck for actual counting matches.

  21. Mason Adair says:

    I don’t think Seattle is really our rival. We hate Seattle *a lot*, but we have never really competed with Seattle, which is pretty hard to stomach. Hopefully when we join MLS we will finally start winning the way Seattle and Vancouver always do. I also haven’t heard of any Sounders fans claiming Portland as a rival. They usually just talk about how annoying we are, which is a compliment!

    • Paul says:

      Mason? That doesn’t sound like you! What it does sound like is a Sounder fan is posting as you. Looks like you may have yourself a fan. Or maybe you have a doppelganger in a bizarro world up north. ;)

      Funny to see Seattle people just fuming that Portland support has been recognized again! Sad for them really – they have the numbers and the money but don’t have the soul.

      • Paul says:

        The soul of the debil.

      • Mike says:

        Don’t you kow, Seattle FC fans are supposed to be the best in the league.

        C’mon dude tow the marketing line.

      • TFC says:

        Seattle fans are crazy in a bad way. A gander at Big Soccer posts by some seattle fans will make you wonder what is in the water out there. They threatened to stab some of our fans ahead of our away game there this season. What kind of sounder fans have I wonder?

        • Brian says:

          More than a handful of Timbers fans threatened to stab/cut/kill/shoot/etc me when I was at the game down in Portland over the summer. Welcome to football. Apparently you’ve never seen soccer in any country outside of America. Also, I’m sorry that your team (like most Toronto teams) doesn’t appear to know what playoffs are.

    • DemonJuice says:

      Hi, bright.

  22. Nevets says:

    For the person who said the Timbers “drew half that”…
    Hum of the top 10 NASL crowds at Portland Civic Stadium…
    Seattle @ Portland 31,523 & 27,310
    Vancouver @ Portland 23,536

  23. Seybold says:

    I’d have to say back in the NASL days Seattle-Vancouver was bigger than Seattle-Portland. I’d suspect it’ll be the opposite in 2011. Just a feeling–maybe it’s because both countries have made the border crossing so much more than the formality it used to be. Takes forever compared to 10-20 years ago.

    Agree they should open up the upper deck in Qwest for these matches (on the other hand, unless they give us 1,000 or so away tickets, maybe not).

  24. Zod says:

    Portland won’t raise the bar in 2011. Simply put, Portland will change the way soccer support is practiced in America. There is a magical football atmosphere in PDX that will set the standard. Seattle has done well this year and a lot of people have wondered why. Well, lets just say they didn’t have to look far to find an awesome model to [attempt to] imitate. And when Vancouver joins the fray, it’s going to be on. Cascadia will be seen as one of the top flight soccer regions in the world with Portland as it’s capital.

  25. Charles says:

    Hum of the top 10 NASL crowds at Portland Civic Stadium…
    Seattle @ Portland 31,523 & 27,310
    Vancouver @ Portland 23,536

    >>>That is like saying the Cosmos drew more on the road than San Diego, of course they did. I have been following the Sounders for a full 30 years, now all of the sudden Portland is our rival ? Out of the blue. I guess I missed it the first 28 years. I am excited the PDX fans are excited, I am excited guys are calling me full of sh-t, something I don’t normally like, btw.
    .
    In 1979,80,81, Seattle and Vancouver drew in the mid 20ks, PDX 11K,10k and 10k….half as much. How many fans are going to travel to Seattle when at home you draw 10k ?
    In the USL, Seattle won, the fan interest was sort of there. Really hard to get a great rivalry out of anyone. Obviously some of the games against back East opponents that were always there, Rhinos, etc were big. PDX was not one of them.
    .
    IF you think that Portland will draw more than the Sounders, I am very excited, but I am skeptical. Sorry.

    • Mike says:

      Like Paul said – you keep referencing things from 30 years ago. That doesn’t make sense. You seem to despartely cling to some former glory and that’s the first sign that your out on a limb.

      It seems pretty ‘convenient’ that you are talking about attendance and rivalries in 1979, but you gloss over conditions in, say 2008, when the sounders had embarassing attendance.

      Charles, why are you trying to tell us that 10,000 attendance at Timbers games in USL is a bad thing when the Sounders drew like 3000 last year in the same fucking league? Recent history is kinda inconvenient for your personal view of the world isn’t it?

      Portland Timbers are not suddenly your rival. Ask the few of your sounder mates who have been around before this year. There are plenty of articles going back to 2001 where Sounders referred to Timbers as your rivals.

      The lengths you are going to to try to prove that Timbers are not your rival just shows how important that rivalry really is for you. Funny how that works isn’t it?

  26. Charles says:

    BTW, this back and forth is starting to sound like a rivalry beginning.
    Good luck with the new-old franchise.

  27. Andrew says:

    The reason why Portland Timbers fans are the best??
    That’s easy, because people in Portland have(besides the Blazers)
    ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!!!!!!!!
    no major league baseball, no NHL, no NFL,
    absolutely ____ all, to get behind!!

    There was a lot of success with the original NASL
    franchise, the 1978 championship game against the Cosmos,
    popular fixtures like Clyde Best who went on to build a
    coaching legacy at University of Portland:

    Portland is the largest small town in this country, maybe that’s why it
    gets behind a second division football team.

  28. Charolastra says:

    Andrew, there’s plenty to do and rally around in PDX. In fact, a lot of people in the Timbers Army we’re turned off by professional sports such as the NFL, NBA or MLB.
    Went to their first football match and where immediately hooked by the uniqueness of the game and the experience, unlike most American sports with the endless commercials and circus extravaganzas.
    People here get it.
    Find another reason to hate the TA.
    Can’t wait for 2011, SEA, VAN and PDX will set the standard . MLS and American soccer will be better for it.
    RCTID

  29. bgix says:

    Charolastra – I think there is some casual arrogance by some in the PDX crowd, that PDX gets it and that nobody else (particularly Seattle) does. MLS fans from other sides have been accusing Seattle of claiming to have invented “fan culture” all year. In a couple of years, that argument will be turned on you in full force. The past 30+ years will mean nothing.

    But yes, I can also not wait for 2011, SEA, VAN and PDX because Cascadia will set the standard.

    No Equal.

  30. todd says:

    I will always hate the Sounders, but I already have a profound respect for the Timbers.

    a couple of points though

    1) Houston fans consistently travel well to Dallas
    2) With a new RBNY stadium and Philly coming into the mix… the time is ripe for a a trifecta of Northeastern rivalry. I know the Sons of Ben and the multiple DC United supporters are going to rival anything sounders newjacks and timbers army can throw at each other.

  31. daniel says:

    i heard dc united might move to baltimore because baltimore is stepping up with a stadium proposal

  32. Charles says:

    >>>Charles, why are you trying to tell us that 10,000 attendance at Timbers games in USL is a bad thing when the Sounders drew like 3000 last year in the same fucking league? Recent history is kinda inconvenient for your personal view of the world isn’t it?

    Ummm, because the stadium they played the last year in only seats 2,500 ?
    Or was that a retorical question ?
    Recent history is NOT inconvenient, the only reason the Sounders aren’t drawing 40k-50k right now is because they haven’t opened up 40k seats.
    I hope I am wrong, but Portland will not get close to that.
    Also I did NOT mean 10k in USL is a bad thing, on the contrary. I was talking about the NASL. Sorry for not being clear. 10k in the USL is great and I am very excited and happy for PDX, unfortunately Americans just don’t view it as good as it is. Partly because of all the references calling it the ‘second division’. I am just pointing out that Portland and Seattle never had a rivalry ( and yes it takes a long time to create one, maybe even 30 years ) and that forcing one, like a Heritage Cup, doesn’t work and shows the league to be desperate.

    • Audrey says:

      Everybody knows that Portland is already your rivals. You’re kidding right? If you are not, I think you may be the only one who believes what you are saying.

      Portland-Seattle rivalry has in place since NASL as I remember (yes I was there too) and ever since 2001 that has been a very intense rivarly. I have to think you haven’t followed the sounders very much in the last two decades or you would certainly know.

    • Mike says:

      “Ummm, because the stadium they played the last year in only seats 2,500 ?”

      Yeah dude, they used to play in Qwest in USL until the attendance there got so bad, in the low 2000s, that they realized they needed to move to a community sports complex, and then they still didn’t sell that tinly stadium out.

      I don’t follow the Sounders and I know more about them than you do.

  33. tjwags says:

    One BIG problem with the Portland team is that the stadium has ZERO parking. How do they expect 20,000 fans to get to the game? By light rail and bus? I live in Beaverton about 10 miles from downtown and I will not take MAX to the games. My prediction is that in five years the team is going to have financial troubles due to attendance. I cannot think of any other major league team who’s stadium has no parking. Other than that, I’m glad that Portland has another major league sport.

    • Sean says:

      And why exactly will you not take the MAX? I live in Beaverton too and every time I go to a game, I take the MAX or the 54 bus to downtown and it works fantastically! I personally think that the hundreds of bikes parked outside and the lightrail stop across the street from the stadium is part of the charm of PGE park and Portland in general. It’s a great feature, especially when hundreds of chanting green-clad fans cram onto the MAX after a win. I think it raises the profile of the team as well because it makes us more visible. And as an added bonus, you can drink all you want and not have to worry about driving home!

      Basically it comes down to a choice of three options:
      1. Parking with terrible game-day downtown traffic
      2. Parking, but with a stadium removed from the city
      3. A downtown location, limited parking, public transit

      You can’t have the best of both worlds, and I’ll take number 3 any day. Ask any Revs fan and I’m sure they would agree.

    • Flippin says:

      tjwags

      You are complaining that the stadium is conveniently located near mass transit? That is stupid. Most teams wish they had that problem.

      And you are predicting that the team will have financial troubles due to attendance?

      That makes absolutely no sense since in the previous paragraph you were complaining that the reason people won’t go is that there isn’t enough parking. But if the surrounding parking garages and MAX are full on game days enough to deter people, then how can there be a problem with attendance?

      You just sound like a nervous little shut-in. Don’t forget that the Timbers have hosted 15,000+ on several occasions just fine and with the Stadium upgrades there shouldn’t be a problem in the ground with another 5k. Plus the green line MAX adds more public transit options from around the metro area so that’s fine too.

      Don’t worry. If you can’t muster the strength to ride one of the best public transit systems in the country, there will be plenty of people who aren’t afraid of crowds or being in public that will gladly take your seat.

  34. Football Fiend says:

    I really look forward to visiting Portland and Vancouver once every year, so I can watch the Sounders crush them hard. There will be no doubt of rivalry after 2011.

    And Timbers fans, please, just keep talking….

  35. stubble says:

    Well I grew up in Seattle going to Sounders games at memorial stadium (think 1995) It was a different time and place. Sammy the sounder was a big plushie orca that would run around. It was tough back then, the sports scene was incredibly busy with the seahawks and UW football drawing 60,000 fans on the weekends, mariners baseball, supersonics… there was a lot being thrown at you.

    Then I moved to PDX. It’s a simpler place. No football (not even college football. I went to Portland State University and it’s just not a sports school) no baseball, and medium-strong support for their NBA team. But one thing that PDX really really loves to do is DIY things, community-building, home-grown support and events, and they f·cking love soccer. The T.A. is an awesome sight to behold.

    Seattle and PDX are just a little different. SSFC has to be loud and flashy to compete with all of the other pro sports going on in the city, so yes, it will seem commercialized and overhyped, and PTFC will seem like the eternal underdogs just because that’s how the town is. But I can tell you as a person whose family has been road tripping up to BC and down to PDX since the NASL days that the Pac-NW rivalry is going to be awesome.

    Oh, and by the way, the Seattle-Vancouver rivalry used to be the big one, but I really feel that the PDX-Seattle rivalry is now the prevalent one. That’s how I see it.

    tl;dr – every town is unique and the pacNW is about to get (more) awesome.

  36. Joel says:

    Don’t let them do away with your name and crest. Honor the history. It’s a very nice, simple logo that the Timbers should carry on into the MLS. I wish Seattle would have done the same.

  37. Chris says:

    The city of Portland is going to drop the ball on this stadium issue and before you know another major sport is going to bail out of the city. And the citizens of Portland will have no one to blame but, themselves. Such a shame too, considering it would make the pacific northwest soccer rivalry the best in the nation.

  38. Brian says:

    Great article. Of course, there’s a minor error in the logic… Portland’s joke of a stadium at full capacity, even after renovation, wouldn’t even hold JUST the season ticket holders for the Sounders… let alone the 10,000 others who show up for every match, every week. The arguments about attendance determining quality of fan support is stupid at best. Although, were it true, the Sounders would automatically win every year, because Portscum’s “stadium” will hold 10k less people than even the current Sounders X-Box Pitch configuration. Of course, Qwest ACTUALLY holds up to about 70,000… which Portland will simply never be able to compete with.

    The same argument applies in reverse. Portland has been playing at a large stadium (for USL), whereas in the years you all are comparing, Seattle played at a stadium that maxed out at 4,000. Essentially, arguing about past attendance figures is absolutely meaningless, even IN context.

    I’m a long-time Sounder loving, new-time Portscum hating, Levesque mustache-power supporting Seattleite… and although I can’t wait to crush the Timbers (…again), the Northwest rivalry is going to be absolutely amazing.

    Oh, and for whoever claimed that Portland fans are family friendly but Seattle fans are mindless thugs, I was threatened by MANY Timbers fans in Portland, jumped by a few, had my shirt torn, scarf stolen, punches thrown at me, and several guys at a bar tell me they’d stab me if I so much as set foot on the premises when I was trying to find my bus back to Tacoma. However, I understand that this is a part of the game, and honestly… that intensity and fervor of support is what makes both teams stand out among other American clubs. Granted I’d rather not be shanked at a soccer match, but if I did, you’d see me bleeding rave green ’til I die.

    TAAAAAKE THEM ALL.
    WAAAATCH THEM FALL.

    -Brian

  39. spaz says:

    MLS Portland — simply AWESOME!! I checked the website here just to verify if you guys were going to keep the name Timbers — and I see you are. I’m sure the Pacific NW rivalry will be incredible as everyone is saying. I’m wondering what untapped young talent will be discovered in the NW in years to come…

    I don’t get the Tampa Bay Mutiny reference. How did they attempt to “Americanize” the World’s game?

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  41. NeoGeek says:

    I can sum up this Timbers jerkfest in one word… Crap!

    Great. Right on! Timbers’ attendance is the toast of the USL, but they will be the FCD of the MLS. I doubt they’ll even sell out their 18k seat stadium next season.

    Face facts – fighting for their USOC lives against Seattle, they drew a record crowd of just over 16k peeps, on a Saturday, including a hell of a lot of Sounders fans. Flash forward to 2010, Seattle puts 18k+ peeps into Qwest, on a Thursday, for a meaningless charity/preseason friendly match, in the rain. Oh, and the ECS made the Timbers supporters look like a bunch of grandmas. For that matter, the Seattle fans that traveled to Portland for the USOC match did the same thing. I should know as I was there.

    Portland will always be Seattle’s annoying little brother… a dorky loser that always wants to hang out with the cool kids. And btw, you’re in the MLS because of us.

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