The hex is broken: the Portland Timbers have won a Major League Soccer game while wearing colored shorts. Ok, maybe this isn't the most important talking point from what was a vitally important 2-1 victory over FC Dallas on Saturday night. But dismissing sartorial choices as utterly irrelevant is clearly folly.
Prior to last night, the Timbers had played 90 games in MLS, winning 27. Nine of those games featured colored shorts: six with green tops and shorts in 2011 and 12 and three games earlier this season with red shorts accompanying the red-and-white alternate tops. Here's a breakdown of those games:
March 19, 2011: Colorado Rapids 3 - Timbers 1
March 26, 2011: Toronto FC 2 - Timbers 0
April 24, 2011: LA Galaxy 2 - Timbers 0
August 14, 2011: Houston Dynamo 2 - Timbers 1
August 17, 2011: Sporting Kansas City 3 - Timbers 1
July 18, 2012: Chivas USA 1 - Timbers 0
March 16, 2013: Seattle Sounders 1 - Timbers 1
May 18, 2013: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - Timbers 2
July 20, 2013: Philadelphia Union 0 - Timbers 0
As you might have noticed, each previous attempt at overcoming the odds of wearing colored shorts came in away games. And as you probably remember, the Timbers were absolutely terrible on the road in both 2011 and 2012. Once Portland's Caleb Porter era began this spring, the Timbers no longer lost games while wearing colored shorts, but still could not find ways to win. In fact, both the Seattle and Vancouver games required dramatic, late goals to steal points against the Cascadia rivals.
There is one exception to this colored shorts rule, but it did not come in MLS play. The Timbers wore solid green in their March 29, 2011 US Open Cup qualifying victory over Chivas USA at Merlo Field.
Apparently 2013 is simply the year to break all of the sartorial streaks that have beset the MLS Timbers. When Portland defeated Sporting Kansas City in late April, it was the first time the team had won a game while wearing its all-white third kits. That streak was shorter (without having them available in 2011, of course) and included games in the league and in the US Open Cup:
March 31, 2012: Timbers 2 - Real Salt Lake 3
May 30, 2012: Timbers - Cal FC 1 (aet) (US Open Cup)
June 30, 2012: Colorado Rapids 3 - Timbers 0
March 30, 2013: Colorado Rapids 2 - Timbers 2
Again, 2013 brought a change in fortunes in the all-whites as the Timbers came from two goals down at Dick's Sporting Goods Park to escape with a 2-2 draw against the Rapids early in the season. That draw set the stage for Portland's impressive 3-2 defeat of Sporting Kansas City on April 27, cutting the third kit streak short at a more modest four games.
Of the seven kit color combinations the MLS Timbers have worn in competitive matches, Portland has won in all of them but the all-green look from the now-retired 2011/12 set. Whether or not the club has actively chosen to do away with the monochromatic green because the team never won a game in them, or quietly limited the use of its popular third kit after the poor results in mid-2012, is open to debate. But victories in 2013 have allowed the club to no longer fear wearing a particular combination of colors.