It was a magical night in the Pacific Northwest as another member of the triangle finally opened up their home end of their scheduled at the refurbished and the re-named Jeld-Wen Field (formerly PGE Park) as the Portland Timbers finally came home to their fans in league play and had a fantastic home opener. It was a rain soaked season opener and there was plenty of excitement all around the former minor league baseball stadium.
The Timbers originally had a goal taken away as the corner was delivered on the near side, it looked to be bending over the end line and returned in play as Kenny Cooper thought he scored the first home tally for the club in the 11th minute, but in the 29th minute history would finally be made. Jorge Perlaza got a great ball from the midfield and attacked the net. He held up to catch Sean Johnson running off his line and converted. His second of the match came at the start of the second half, as the pouring rain came down all night long. Wallace along the near side would cross a strong ball that was spilled by Johnson and Perlaza came out of nowhere to stuff it home.
Rodney Wallace who suffered an injury plagued year with DC United in 2010 made his impact for the Timbers in 2011. In the 38th minute Jack Jewsbury sent a free kick from the near side that was cleared halfway by the Chicago defense. Wallace made a run on the long rebound and with a hard shot got a deflection and buried it into the back of the net. But the Fire decided to make an attempt to ruin the party as Marco Pappa tried to come back with some success. He forced Eric Brunner to get an own goal in the 66th. And then in the 81st he bent a high curling ball that Jake Gleeson tried to parry over the crossbar, but it still found the back of the net.
But the fourth goal came for the Timbers in the 84th minute as Dasan Robinson accidently knocked the whole ball completely over the goal line. Some replays showed that it should’ve been whistled down against Portland’s Kenny Cooper for a hand ball, but Ricardo Salazar was late to the scrum at the net and the referee’s assistant was on the far side.
The atmosphere was electric and had that European feel to it; I compare this crowd in Portland to the many German Bundesliga games I watched on GOLTV. The flags were always waving; the crowd was always singing and did a good job with the National Anthem. Timber Joey was a pleasure to watch every time there was a Timbers goal; he flashed the chainsaw and sliced off a piece of that giant log.
This former minor league baseball stadium has been truly transformed into a soccer stadium that can be compared to some of the top stadiums in the world and can rival Red Bull Arena. The location is perfect, the supporters are hungry and honestly this will be one of the toughest clubs in Major League Soccer that will challenge any side for years to come. The Northwest rivalry is definitely here to stay.