Welcome to the refreshed Stumptown Footy! To celebrate the new look and feel of our sports communities, we’re sharing stories of how and why we became fans of our favorite teams. If you’d like to share your story, head over to the FanPosts to write your own post. Each FanPost will be entered into a drawing to win a $500 Fanatics gift card [contest rules]. We’re collecting all of the stories here and featuring the best ones across our network as well. Come Fan With Us!
When I think about how I became a fan of the Portland Timbers, there are two stories that I tell: the short version and the long version.
First, the sort version.
In 2009 I had a choice to make. I was leaving Rochester, NY, the town in which I had lived since I was six months old — brief diversions in Boston and Beijing excepted — and I needed a new place to call home.
After some research, travel, and thought, I had narrowed down my choices to the cities of the beautiful Pacific Northwest: Portland and Seattle.
Seattle had plenty going for it (although I can’t remember what that was for the life of me), but to my soccer-addicted mind there was one thing that I kept coming back to: the throngs of fans pouring into Qwest Field, enraptured by this new phenomenon known as the Seattle Sounders.
I knew a little about the Sounders and their Oregonian cousins, the Portland Timbers, from my time following the Rochester Raging Rhinos in the A-League and USL First Division, but I had never pictured anything like the packed in crowds chanting along to the flashing boards and megaphoned capos of the Emerald City Supporters. Especially after years of watching MLS sides fail to make a dent in their cavernous, on-loan NFL stadia.
It was enchanting.
But I am a completionist and after a long weekend spent doing research (touring breweries) in Portland, there was just something about the city that I could not shake.
I had heard about the rivalry between the Sounders and Timbers, and I had heard that the Timbers were a possible expansion side for MLS (although as a Rhinos fan, I had been burned by such talk before), so when the two sides met in the US Open Cup during the summer of 2009, I was watching.
What happened in the game, frankly, did not make much of an impact on me, although there are plenty of fans on both sides who will remember Roger Levesque and his 48th second goal celebration. For me, it was what happened in the stands that tipped the scales.
The passion, creativity, and community on display in the North End of PGE Park, on display in front of a sell out crowd for a US Open Cup match, gripped me and would not let go.
Looking back, Timber Jim chainsawing the Space Needle seems tiny in comparison to the tifo that have followed and that single section of flag-waving fanatics does not hold a candle to the expanse of Timbers Army that hold the North End these days. But for me, both mark the moment that I decided Portland and the Portland Timbers would be my home.
As for the long version of the story... Well, you’ll need to buy me more than a few beers before I will tell you that one.
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