Pollyanna had a hand in writing this one. You know, the girl with the constant optimism? Over the last 6 weeks I have been pretty much depressed every Saturday night, except for the week of the Sporting KC Game. However with the help of the community here I got through it and now I want to help everyone else. So here are my musings over the last few days.
Admittedly at the beginning of this season I looked up and down the roster and thought to myself "Portland is really looking like a pretty good team." I am sure many of you had similar thoughts or at least thought year two would be better than year one. As would be expected, the FO and the players were optimistic about this year.
The sunny outlook continued through the first two games because of a win and a draw. Since those first two games the optimism has shrunk with every game and pessimism has steadily grown in the fan base, as usually happens when the sizzle of the opening wears off.
This adversity is a good thing for the Timbers and us fans to go through. As Merritt Paulson put it: "Adversity is truly the best reflection of true character. And it makes the good times much better. And there WILL be good times." He is dead on with that statement. Think about it, without pain and suffering would you be able to know joy and happiness? If all you experienced was joy would it be considered joy? No, because you don't have the opposite to compare it to.
Through this adversity we are going to learn a lot of things about us as fans and everyone associated with the Portland Timbers. Some of those things will be great and some of them will suck. Timbers Green and Rose City Red will not go away. It will continue to show up on clothing, on bumpers, on walls, on jewelry. The bandwagon fans will jump ship and rarely come to Jeld-Wen but will still wear Timbers gear just because it is cool.
What has been most surprising is the number of times we hear folks say there is so much going on in the stands that the game is almost incidental. The TA gets most of the credit for that. The TA teaches the new fans, and it gives veteran folks a reason to come even during the rough spots.
As fans we will learn how much we care about the team. Those of us at the games will bond over this adversity and know WE truly are Rose City ‘Til I Die. We don't need to be as patient as Chicago Cubs fans, who are still waiting for a title. Yet, the sweetness of victory will be our just reward, no matter how long it takes.
In an odd way, the Blazer fans never had to work hard for their fan status. The team was winning early and often battling late into the playoffs. They never earned their fandom with an extended period of losing. Whenever there is a downturn the Rose Quarter empties like air out of a balloon. Timber fans are stronger in so many ways.
All we need is a bit of patience. Our league is more competitive than other sports, and has more parity than almost all other soccer leagues. Look at who squares off for the title in the EPL. Or, look at the Scottish Premier league or La Liga. Unlike those leagues it is more possible our time will come.
We already know Merritt Paulson is here to win trophies and wants the Timbers to be the best franchise in MLS. When he came here he bought a baseball team and a soccer team. He realized quickly which one had the organic fan base, something that would carry the team during rough patches.
The Timbers mean more than a win-loss record. Soccer represents the all-weather approach to sports that best represents Oregon and the Northwest.
Players, GMs and Coaches will come and go. Some will be great and some not. Among the few constants of the team will be the Portland Timbers Football Club and the fans. It is not unfair to say the TA is going to be required to carry the Timbers on their collective back for a while.
This is a rough patch but at some point the Timbers will win the league and be the best. It will come. We just need to get through this adversity to know the true joy. It could even be this year, or it could be next.
As John F. Kennedy said:
"As they say on my own Cape Cod, a rising tide lifts all the boats. And a partnership, by definition, serves both partners, without domination or unfair advantage. Together we have been partners in adversity let us also be partners in prosperity."
We the fans and the Timbers are partners in adversity now so we can be partners in prosperity later.