Portland: Homegrown passion

By Eric and Jordi Beard

Over the past week, Portland, Oregon was situated right on the middle of the global game’s map. From Thierry Henry to Mario Götze, icons and phenoms were filling the streets as the MLS All-Stars welcomed Bayern Munich to town. We were at Providence Park for that match, and it was great. But it wasn’t Portland.

The stadium was packed to the brim and full of fans from overseas, but it wasn’t Portland. So, we returned to see this city’s side play Chivas USA to take in an "average game" and witness the atmosphere that the Timbers Army and company could create.

The "Ooooohs and Aaaaaahhhssss" were apparent from the first minute to the final whistle. We felt the stands bouncing as Argentine playmaker Diego Valeri made a 50-yard run to put the Timbers 1-0 up, only to get a standing ovation from 20,814 fans 50 minutes later. Then, when the game looked all but finished off with a 2-0 lead, the Timbers Army led an extended rendition of "You Are My Sunshine" complete with hundreds of sunflowers lighting up the park's North End. It was surreal in the sense that it felt completely natural. What may have been outlandish elsewhere (try bringing sunflowers to Newcastle) was appreciated by everyone.

The final whistle came and went;  the supporters - of all ages - stuck around to hand-off sunflowers and applaud their squad, their city. 

Words by Eric Beard, photos by Jordan Beard (available for viewing and downloading in high resolution here)