The Portland Timbers were hard at work Saturday preparing for their 2012 season opener at Jeld-Wen Field. For the team, the pressure and the expectations are high, but they were not the only group preparing at Goose Hollow.
Up in the North End concourse, members of the Timbers Army toiled away, preparing for Monday’s game as well.
Just like the Timbers, the expectations are high for the Timbers Army, and their tifo, this season. After impressive displays during the Timbers home Major League Soccer debut and the Cascadia Cup matches last year, the anticipation for how the Timbers Army will top their previous efforts is palpable.
Dave Trausneck, the project manager for the Army’s latest design, was unwilling to share any details of the opening night tifo, on which he and a host of volunteers were hard at work, only confirming that it would be revealed after the singing of the National Anthem.
"We ask that everybody be at their seats by the National Anthem, not only to help sing the National Anthem with the Timbers Army, but also to be there to be a part and witness our opening night display," said Trausneck.
For those not familiar with the term, "tifo," Trausneck broke it down. "It comes from the Italian word tifosi, which means supporter or fan. They are basically large scale displays that convey a message to the team and to the rest of the supporters and to the city. We’re just working and making sure that it all comes together."
Previous Timbers tifos have included everything from a gigantic Timber Jim chainsawing the Space Needle in 2009 to the massive numbers of Portland city flags distributed before the Vancouver game last season.
There is still a significant amount for the Timbers Army to do in the remaining time before kickoff on Monday night. With work going on around him, Trausneck said, "We’ll work until it is done. It’s a large project and there are a lot of people helping out, so it’ll get done when it gets done. The weather isn’t exactly doing us any favors this weekend, but it is Portland, so you have to make the best of it."
The amount of effort that goes into a single game-day display is enormous, and the Timbers Army tifo crew have been hard at work for a some time now, making on their preparations for Monday. When asked about the amount of time put into this particular tifo, Trausneck did not beat around the bush: "A lot of hours by a lot of people. I couldn’t really put a number on it. A lot of people, whether it is 107ist board members, fellow supporters within 107ist, or people within the Timbers Army want to get involved and want to help out."
According to Trausneck the best way to get involved is to join up with the 107 Independent Supporters Trust (107ist) and become an active member of the 107ist member exclusive forums. 107ist, the organizational arm of the Timbers Army, help organize and plan tifo, but also are involved in Timbers Army merchandising, club/supporter relations, away travel, charity work, and many other issues.
As for the game itself, Trausneck's expectations for the team match the expectations Timbers fans have for his band of tifo volunteers. "I am very excited. I think a lot of us, not just myself, but everybody within the Timbers Army and Portland and the surrounding communities are anxiously awaiting this. Not necessarily just for our opening night display, but for the possibilities of this season and what it could bring. We’re expecting to make a playoff push, and, with our new signings and the excitement building around the team, it is just a buzz that is unparalleled."