We Are The Rose City

This post was originally published on May 13, 2011 in the build-up to the first ever Portland vs Seattle MLS-era match…

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he first MLS era match between Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders is right around the corner and the anticipation is building minute by minute.  It’s a true rivalry, something rare in MLS. I’ve only been following the Timbers for a short while and it didn’t take long to pick up on the depth of feeling that this tie generates among both set of fans.

Hey Seattle, the Timbers are owning you in your own town. Yeah, better get used to that.

As a Killie fan, I’ve had an analogous relationship with our rivals, Ayr United. I know how passionate these matches can be and how much they mean to the fans. I look forward to my first experience of the Timbers – Sounders rivalry, albeit from the other side of the world.

In the meantime, as anticipation builds, let’s set the scene with some words from other Timbers fans about what the match means to them

Mao, author of a fantastic article about the NASL Timbers in Issue Zero of The Blizzard, is also the host of Mao’s Football Show on cascadia.fm. Follow him on twitter.

The second Timbers game I ever attended was the US Open Cup tie on July 1, 2009. My wife Morgen and I had been to our first game just a few days earlier, June 28, a 4-0 win over Montreal Impact (behind a Mandjou Keita brace). We sat on the west side for Montreal and saw this display pre-game from the Timbers Army.

After that first experience we went straight to the box office after the game and bought two tickets for the Seattle game. We didn’t know where to sit exactly for the Open Cup. We knew we wanted to be closer to the Army but weren’t sure we were ready to dive in fully (we’d only just moved to Portland the third week of May). So we picked section 203 where we’d be close enough to smell the smoke when a goal was scored but far enough away to still watch all of the antics.

As it turned out the Timbers Army had the greatest tifo planned.


Unfortunately that amazing display was replied immediately by the Sounders who scored after forty-five seconds. Seattle scored again to make it 2-0 and our first disappointment in the Timbers set in. But Keita pulled one back before half-time and turned it into a game again. The atmosphere was incredible with the Timbers Army, and indeed everyone in the park, hanging on every possession.

It was unlike any experience I’d had at a sporting event and it became quite clear to us that we were going to be getting involved with the Timbers. Of course the Timbers weren’t able to equalize and Seattle advanced at our expense. But we were hooked. We bought tickets for the friendly against the Bayern Munich reserves for the very next day (featuring Thomas Mueller, though he didn’t play against the Timbers) and attended every game for the rest of the 2009 season. I bought a season ticket for 2010 and we bought two for the 2011 MLS season.

Joey shares his experience of that US Open Cup match, and the effect it had on his wife… Check him out on the twitters.

While an expat abroad, I started followed my home state team a couple years ago.  I would occasionally watch the streams but my wife couldn’t get into it. Then we moved back to the Portland in July. The first home game after getting back was the US Open Cup match against Seattle so we got tickets. We went and were immediately changed from passive fans to fanatics. How could you do anything else? It was one of the most dramatic events, ending in penalties. We left and my wife suddenly hated Seattle (she’s not from these parts so this was her first encounter with the antagonistic relationship). She also was the first one to ask to go to the next game, which was cool cause I was going to demand it.

We loved soccer and it was a dream to come true to find a passionate group in a country where we expected to be alone watching world cup games. For us the Seattle game was the first experience of coming to our new home after years being gone.

“The Nutstrike”

A conversation on twitter.

@TheMikeDonovan The only time I ever was OK with throwing something on the pitch was the 09 Sounders game. Right in the balls.

@Elfurdeball My son who was 5 at the time still talks about the bottle to the knads incident. Great father/son moment!

@xanderkale haha, what is that about? this is all new to me, if someone would care to explain…

@Elfurdeball Sanni Nyassi took a dive in the 09 Open Cup and flopped like a flounder. Someone threw a water bottle and struck him in the nuts

@TheMikeDonovan Memory is foggy. Sounder player faking injury near touchline. Water bottle gets flung from deep in North End. Hits dude in nuts

@zamnight An empty water bottle (just sayin).

@TheMikeDonovan http://www.droppingtimber.com/2009/07/nyassi-and-seattle-flounders.html

@david1978pdx That bottle to the nuts was totally on the mark too from 100 ft away. Amazing throw.

I had to!

@xanderkale wish there was footage of the actual nutstrike!

@maofootball It was the greatest aim of all time!

@TheMikeDonovan The Zapruder film of the Portland Timbers

@david1978pdx I was in 104. Bottle came from top of 102/103. That bottle sailing by is one of those slow-mo images I’ll never forget.

@TheMikeDonovan Same with me. I was in 106. It definitely seemed like it was in slow motion.

@Elfurdeball The funniest part was when Cronin went over and grabbed the bottle, he looked up in the crowd and started laughing. Legend 🙂

@david1978pdx Srsly, the arc on that throw was beautiful.

Ben talks now about what the Timbers vs Sounders matches means to him and how it’s more than just a game – it’s civic pride, damnit! You can follow him on twitter.

I was born in Portland in 1986 and lived there until I went to college in 2005, although not in Portland, the school I chose was in the area. I remember as a kid my father talking about going to Timbers games when he was in high school in the 1970’s and how amazing of an atmosphere it was at the time. I thought that I understood this type of fan-hood he was describing when I started going to Blazer games, but my father I’m sure was left shaking his head.

Forward ahead to 2001 when the Timbers came back. My father and I went to a few games that first season, and I remember poking fun at him about the atmosphere being nothing like the one he described, but he kept telling me that Portland is a Soccer City and that the fans will come. I attended between 3 and 5 games a year, and in 2003 or 2004 I remember one of the games I caught was against the Sounders, though PGE wasn’t full, there were significantly more people there and the animosity seemed to be much higher, after that experience I tried to make it to every Timbers-Sounders game after.

As the Timbers Army grew so did my hatred for Seattle.

I remember the day when I first outwardly said “FUCK SEATTLE” was when they used the term Portscum to refer to the city I love, the city that raised me. This is the same day that I fell in love with the Timbers. As the years went by more and more people caught notice of the Timbers and the crowds were becoming larger and larger.

Then the Summer of 2009 came and the Sounders had made the big jump to the MLS, but we secured a match up in the U.S. Open Cup with them and to my surprise it was going to be at PGE Park. I was down in Corvallis at the time and realized that this was one of those events that I would be kicking myself for years if I didn’t attend, so I grabbed a few friends and we all went up to Portland for a few days surrounding the game.

I remember before the game my friends and I were razzing the Sounders fans a little bit… Ok, a lot, the main punchlines were about them just losing their basketball team, and their whole city smelling like fish, which some of my friends pointed out reminded them of the girls that lived in Seattle. By the time the game started we all had a pretty strong buzz going, which wore off a little bit by the end of the game, which by the way was won by the Sounders.

As we were headed down to Marathon Taverna we saw a Sounder fan come from behind and sucker punch a Timbers fan for no reason, and I truly mean no reason, they weren’t even talking to each other. The Sounders fan ran off (we never found out what happened to him) but we were talking to the guy who got hit, turned out he had just turned 16, and was with his father. The game was a birthday present to him. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would do something like this. We were all in absolute disbelief.

This is the day that my friends and I all vowed that no matter what we would go to every single Timbers-Sounders match and be the most obnoxious, rowdy, and Seattle hating fans in the stadium. The only rule we had was not to attack a single person, and to use proper language when children were present. You might say that we took the low road and we are just as bad as the person that punched the 16 year old kid, but we Timbers fans are not just an army, we are a family and families stick together.

Before I go I want to leave you with this. Portland is not just a place, but a group of close knit people, who have helped me become the person I am today, and have had my back when I needed it. Now it’s my turn to have Portland’s back…

Kyle talks about the rivalry with Seattle that bleeds across into other sports, but really finds it’s groove on the soccer field. He’s also on twitter, so check him out.

Being a native Oregonian, everyone has always assumed those of us in Portland love the people and city of Seattle because we’re both in the northwest and have similar cultures. Local sports outlets assume we root for their sports teams in leagues that Portland doesn’t have a team, like the NFL and MLB.  That idea never really jived with me and it wasn’t until I went to my first Timbers/Sounders match in 2008 that I truly started despising those folks up north.

The rivalry that takes place on the pitch is magnitudes greater than any semblance of a rivalry between the Blazers and Sonics, back before their team left for the greener sports pastures of Oklahoma City.  There are YouTube clips of the NASL matches back in the 70’s that show just how much passion each city has when it comes to soccer. My Dad loves seeing my generation fall head over heels in love with the Timbers, mostly so he can school us with his experiences going to Timbers games against the Sounders back when he was my age.  He has a season ticket with me in the Timbers Army and always feels like he’s back at a familiar place while I’m wide eyed and infatuated with our recent upgrade into the MLS.

Watching and anticipating the Sounders is something that is damaging to my health. My blood pressure reaches all time highs and ‘Build a Bonfire’ echoes through my head for the whole week prior.


I am sure most Timber fans would view an otherwise disappointing season that we beat the Sounders in both meetings as a huge success. Seattle has the big stadium, the big sponsors, the flashy uniforms, and a god damn marching band.  For us, the Timbers are a young team lead by the our beloved Scotsman who doesn’t need those material possessions to be special. We know that the bond the fans have with the team causes them to work their ass off to get a result for themselves and the entire Timber nation. And in return, I am sure, that most Timber fans wouldn’t hesitate to sacrifice their first born if it meant it could help the Timbers in their fight against the Sounders.

For the first time in decades, the Timbers and Sounders are facing each other at the highest level possible with more on the line than anything in recent memory. The result on Saturday will extend through TV screens and into the hearts of Timber fans everywhere. Here’s hoping we take it to those arrogant bastards and show them it just got a lot more crowded in the Pacific Northwest. Pints up Portland. Rose City till I die.


Thanks to Paul from the excellent Dropping Timber for pointing me toward the video. You can also follow their updates on twitter.

And so, the big day is right around the corner. It’s been a long wait, but finally the Timbers get to beat their inferior Cascadian neighbours, and in their own house on top of it. And if you’re still in any doubt about how much this match means, let John spell it out for you…

To those lucky 500 that have tickets and are going to the match, have a great day. Let’s make it one to remember for all the right reasons.

You can’t stop us…

…We are the Rose City


2011 was an exciting year for Timbers fans as they finally realised their dreams of playing the top flight. It was, as the cliché goes, a rollercoaster that ended with the side narrowly missing out on the play-offs. Yet it wasn’t a disappointing year. It was never likely to be all glory and fireworks. It was always going to be tough, ugly at times, but it would give the fans some remarkable memories along the way.

For my part, I came into this year as a wide-eyed newbie, and while I wouldn’t claim to be the World’s Greatest Timbers Fan, I’ve taken the club to my heart in a way that I, if I’m being honest, never really expected. Part of it is down to the club and the honest, approachable and dignified way they go about things.

But mostly it’s thanks to the fans. They welcomed this Scot into their midst, sorted him out for free tickets to a match and treated him like one of their own. There was no initiation, or having to “prove” your fandom. You say you’re a Timbers fan?, they seemed to ask, then prove it with passion and heart. Do that and you’ll forever be one of us.

Forever Rose City.

Thank you, one and all. See you in 2012.

6 thoughts on “We Are The Rose City

  1. This is a great article by a very talented man. It makes me miss my home very much. I cannot wait to get back to there and attend my very first Timbers match.

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