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The Twelfth Man: What can we bring to the table?

Gettiing "Stuck in" by Tony McManus(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Gettiing "Stuck in" by Tony McManus(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I am going to admit something that may seem awkward to some.  My Mom is probably more of a fan in the true sense then I will ever be.  I get too much common sensibility from my dad. Combined my mom and dad inspired the following line of thinking.

How did Mom inspire me? Well she was looking at the 1500 pictures of all the fans from the "We are Timbers" photo shoot. She turned to me and said  "You know what I love about this Ryan?"

"No." I replied.

"I love the breadth." With that I gave her a slightly puzzled look. "Looking at these photos I see people in suits and those informally dressed, young and old, tattooed and conservative hairstyles, white and Black and Hispanic. Yes, they were all different. Yet they were unified by one thing. The Timbers." She explained.

Right then and there I realized Mom is right. We are Timbers. Just like the photo shoot said. Now the only thing we need to get is an option on the surveys for us to select Timbers as our race. Then we will be set for life.

So, we are Timbers. What are the implications? Well, it means we support our team through the good and the bad. We all want a good year but even if we are mired in second to last (sorry Vancouver Whitecaps) we will still go to the games. We will still follow them to as many away matches as we can. We will still be a Timber.

What do Kenny Cooper, Ryan Pore, or Troy Perkins get out of our support? Quite a bit.

I read a fan post on Blazersedge in which home field advantage was discussed, the post was based on a Sports Illustrated article by Tobias Moskowitz and Jon Wertheim. Unfortunately, I had trouble locating that specific article. However. in my research I found some soccer specific studies.

The Studies:

The first one of note was conducted by three brothers at Harvard University. They studied English Premier League games over a ten year period and found that a team's home goals average was quite a bit higher than away goals, 1.5  to 1.1 per game. They also found that for each additional average of 10,000 fans in the stands the goals scored at home average would go up by .1 goals per game. 

After reading the studies I  thought to myself that if we can guarantee an average fan attendance of 20,000 our Timbers will score an average .4 more goals than our opposition at home.  This would be a good thing. Duh!!  In a sport where a final score can be 1-0 it can mean a bonus game winning goal every few home games.  Ignoring the obvious counter-conclusion that everyone backs a winner so more wins equals more fans, more true fans means more wins.

The second study was looking at the perception of Football (not NFL) supporters' perceptions of their role in home field advantage. This is a very interesting read but there is one fact that jumped out at me as really significant. It was that "American football teams who played in domed stadia showed an inflated home advantage".

Now you are saying to yourself, we don't play in a domed stadium to keep the noise bouncing around inside. You're right, but we have a great reflecting sound board in the Multnomah Athletic Club. This already keeps a lot of the sound bouncing back into the stadium and gets the place loud far out of proportion to the numbers in the stands.  (It's been a bit like listening to a game in a garage.)  What happens to the acoustics with the remodel is yet to be seen, but the addition of thousands of fans to the East can only intensify the impact.

Imagine how intimidating that might feel to someone who has not experienced PGE Park with our magnificant fan base. If we can maintain that inflated home advantage we could really be a force in this league. Win all of our 17 home games and you end up with 51 points, easily good enough for a play-off spot.

This brings me to the prospect of away-game support and how my dad inspired me. Dad in essence said, "Imagine if we could get the Timbers to be that team, you know the team that always has half of the crowd rooting for them no matter where they go, a bit like the Lakers or the Yankees.  Picture this, when ESPN pans the stadium in Kansas City, Missouri and sees Sporting KC's 9,000 fans but an additional 2,000 Timbers fans all decked out in their colors. We would minimize our opponent's home field advantage wherever we go."

I got chills thinking about his comment.

My next thought was, "How could that happen?" We would need ex-pats to join the ranks, those Oregonians that want to live here but can't for various reasons. They are the ones who don't feel the vibe because they have become too far distant to sense the on-street excitement in the Portland area, but would re-catch the fever if we could get them connected.

So, your job as a true Timber is to go out and recruit family members from other states, find old friends on Facebook, reconnect with high school or college buddies. Find bars or Buffalo Wild Wings to hang out at and gather together. Make the Timbers Army strong not only in Portland but around the Nation.

The next piece is to spread the word in uncharted territory.  As a Timber we each need to do some scouting, to look into the blogs and forums of our opponents, and to leave behind a good word or two for the Timbers,

Some day it could be sort of like becoming the Pittsburg Steelers of the MLS with bars in every major metro area in the US, only there would be wall space set aside for the Timbers. "Build it and they will come..." to places for Timbers fans to congregate and declare their support.

Did you ever hear of the mythical Kilroy?  In World War II Americans and our allies came up with a simple symbol which mysteriously popped up everywhere, especially in occupied territory in France, Italy and Germany, accompanied by the words "Kilroy was here."  It was written by soldiers and airmen on the dropping bombs and surging tanks, but also by The Resistance on anything they could find.  After a while you couldn't walk anywhere in occupied territory without seeing it on an open wall, a train, a car bumper, an arriving letter or any place with enough room to chip away at the Nazi spirit by implying, "We are coming and some of us are already here."

What if the Timber axe symbol started appearing in strange places (especially opposing cities) with the words "Timber was here"?

A man can dream.