Friday, April 15, 2011

The Best Soccer Club Atmosphere I Have Ever Seen in the U.S.-Portland Timbers of the MLS!

Last night (April 14, 2011) one of the two new expansion clubs in Major League Soccer, the Portland Timbers, had their home debut. They opened their new/renovated stadium, Jeld-Wen Field. The game was broadcast on ESPN2 at 11pm EST, so I had to DVR it. But I did make sure to catch the opening couple of minutes.

The Timbers took a very prudent approach to their home stadium. The field originally opened in 1926 and has been used by the local minor league baseball team, the Portland Beavers, and the Portland State Football team.

The stadium also has soccer tradition. It was the home of the old NASL (North American Soccer League) Portland Timbers from 1975-1982 and hosted the NASL Championship Game between the New York Cosmos and Seattle Sounders in 1977. That game was historic as it was Pele's final professional match.

After a $31 million dollar renovation, the field opened last night with the Portland Timbers hosting the Chicago Fire. I still have to watch the game on the DVR, but the Timbers won 4-2, sending their fans (18,627 to be exact) including their supporters group, the Timbers Army, home very happy.

The field looked great on TV. Possibly the best atmosphere I have ever seen for a US based soccer club, rivaling the best of the European clubs. The Timbers Army was very well organized, singing and chanting in unison.

The best part of last night's match for me was the decision that Portland Timbers' management made regarding the National Anthem. Rather than bringing in a celebrity to sing the Star-Spangled Banner, the decision was made to have the Timbers Army sing it. A brilliant move, and possibly the best rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner I have ever heard. Check it out!

ADDED:I forgot to mention that the Portland Timbers may have started the best tradition in the MLS when celebrating a home goal. After every goal, the Timbers mascot, Timber Joey, brings out his chain saw and cuts a slice off of a huge log.

After the game the goal scorer is presented with the slice to commemorate his goal!

Steve Sirk, who has contributed articles for the Columbus Crew's website, had a great tweet last night about the tradition:

 Steve Sirk 

How far MLS has come, part 22567...1996: "Sorry, drums can be used as weapons. No entry!" 2011: "Fully functional chain saw? No problem!"

Here is Timber Joey after the first goal last night:

Portland Timbers Celebrate Their Big Win! (Craig Mitchelldyer,

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