Sunday, May 20, 2012

Portland Timbers vs. Chicago Fire

One of the downsides of moving to the Portland area is the general lack of professional sports teams.  They don't even have a minor league baseball team any more!  In fact, they moved the baseball team out a couple years ago in order to convert the multipurpose stadium to a dedicated soccer stadium to attract a new MLS team, pushing the minor league baseball Beavers out of the state last year.

Rather than be discouraged about the loss of the baseball team, I've decided to give MLS soccer a chance. This was a difficult decision for me, since the tickets were fairly expensive, and I've already got a bit of a negative opinion about soccer (I've just never been able to get interested in it as a spectator sport -- although there aren't many stoppages of play, it just doesn't seem like anything is happening).  Then again, I've never been to a professional-level event.  Perhaps going in person will be more exciting than trying to follow a game that I don't understand on television.

I got to the stadium a little more than 2 hours early, thinking that was when most sporting events start letting people in.  That meant that I had about 45 minutes to walk around the stadium and get my bearings a little.  There was already a sizeable crowd gathered in the square around, lined up to get into the stadium.  There was even a line across the street for people to buy supporters gear.  The atmosphere was definitely electric, so I started to get excited as I wandered around the area.

One of the things that caught my attention was that they had partitioned off half of a street for bike parking.  That's something I hadn't thought of before -- but something that is uniquely Portland.

Like most stadiums, there were multiple entrances -- this one is from the back side, which looks like it is for special pass holders -- there really weren't many people in the line here this early before gametime.

But, lo and behold...what restaurant do I see inside the stadium?  Qdoba?  Maybe this soccer thing isn't going to be so bad after all!  They're smart enough to have a Qdoba, maybe everything on the inside is quality!

It got into my hand, and it went bad.
So I lopped it off at the wrist.

I got into the stadium and looked at the official gear.  The biggest item that I saw other people with was the scarves.  There were several different varieties, with sayings printed on either side.  But I only picked up one thing on this trip -- how could I resist a chainsaw foam finger?!?

I went to find my seat, and thought it was odd that there was no one in my section yet.   That was when I learned why there was such a throng of people waiting so patiently long before the game -- the supporters section (aka Timbers Army) is made up of several General Admission sections, so you have to get there early to make sure that you get a good seat.  That section was quite full, and very colorful!

The fun then started almost immediately...the players came out on the field, and the Timbers Army started chanting and singing (in the video below, they're chanting "When I root, I root for the Timbers!").

They kept it up for the entire game (with the exception of a quick breather for halftime).  They even were involved in the Star Spangled Banner, waving their scarves and making a "whoosh" sound after every line of the song.  It was really incredible -- I've never seen anything like it before.  Even better was that, as much as I thought soccer was a kid-friendly sport, some of their chants weren't child-appropriate, containing F-bombs.  That added to my enjoyment, though the parents next to me weren't too happy about it.

Admittedly, the product on the field wasn't overly interesting to me.  I understand enough to know what the goal is (pun intended), but not when some of the penalties were occurring.  There were a few moments of excitement -- when the ball changed possession, when a player would flop, or when the teams were in close to the goal -- but the overwhelming amount of time was just as expected, with just trying to position yourself to get into one of those situations.

Still, when there was a goal, it was very entertaining.  The Timber Army lit smoke green smoke bombs and sang "Goals" to the tune of the Beastie Boys' "Girls"

Among the flags waved by the Timber Army were the
Doug Flag, flag of Cascadia!  Free Cascadia!

The Timbers won, 2-1, and I had a lot more fun than I thought I would.  Thank you to the Timber Army -- your antics were exciting and unique in my sporting experience, and made the experience one that I want to share with others who haven't experienced it yet.  If you're in the area, leave me a comment -- if I get enough comments, I may have a contest to watch a future game with me!

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