Portland is home to a number of different sports teams and all of them have loyal and passionate fans. However, there is a reason why this city is called Soccer City USA. The Portland Timbers are an American soccer club that competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) and has some of the most animated fans in all of sports. The Timbers are a part of the league’s Western Conference where both the players and the fans bring incredible amounts of energy and Portland spirit each game.
Playing in Providence Park, a stadium which is shared with the Portland State Vikings and the Portland Thrones FC, the Timbers are consistently filling the stands with roaring fans. In fact, the franchise holds an active streak of selling out of Timbers tickets to their 21,144-capacity stadium for over 125 straight games. What’s more, this incredible support has existed since the first day the Portland soccer introduced the Timbers in 2011.
The History of the Portland Timbers
Although there was a smaller Portland men’s soccer team in the past, the Timbers were the first MLS team in the city. In 2011, their first year as a Major League Soccer franchise, the Timbers ended the season in 12th place overall. In their next season, the team continued to face difficulties, finishing 22nd out of 24 teams. However, the team did win the Northwest division’s Cascadia Cup for the first time that season.
The Portland Timbers would go on to compete valiantly in 2013 under their new Head Coach, Caleb Porter, and go on to make the playoffs for the first time. Making it all the way to the conference finals, the Timbers were eventually defeated by Real Salt Lake. However, the Timbers played well enough during that season to qualify for the 2014-2015 CONCACAF Champions League, their first international tournament.
During the 2015 season, the franchise’s fifth anniversary in the MLS, the Portland Timbers finally won their first MLS cup championship. The Timbers fought past the league’s heavy hitters in order to win the championship and bring home the cup for their beloved fans. In doing so, the Portland Timbers became the first out of the three teams in the Cascadia rivalry (Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC) to become an MLS champion.
The Portland Timbers Fan Experience
Being a Portland Timbers fan is a privilege for sports fanatics because the team’s fanbase, dubbed the Timbers Army, is one of the most eccentric and robust followings in the league. The Timbers Army are known for their raucous and enthusiastic support at every home game at the Portland Timbers stadium. Fans gather at the Providence Park stadium each game and play a vital role in creating a lively environment for everybody.
Part of the Portland Timbers appeal among fans is that they’re one of the best teams in all of MLS, but also because they bring the culture of the city to each game. From the bevy of local craft beer options available at Providence Park, to dining choices provided by some of city’s best bites, even the concession stands are full of Portland spirit.
Supporters of the Timbers are allowed to create their own fan experience organically and with the help of the team. For example, the team offers fans a place to store their drums and flags before games for easy access when it comes time to let the team spirit ring through the stadium.
If you look around at any given home game, you will see the Timbers Army fans sitting together at the north end of the stadium behind one of the goal posts. This unofficial Portland Timbers club works alongside the team to figure out how to encourage audience involvement while maintaining a safe environment for fans.
One of the finest and most celebrated aspects of the Portland Timbers fan experience is the unofficial mascot, Timber Joey and his big log. Every time the Timbers score a goal during a home game, Timber Joey will rev up his chainsaw and cut off a round (or “cookie”) from a hefty log of wood. It is only fitting that Portland has the most unique and unconventional way to celebrate their home team scoring goals in the entire league.
Future Outlook for the Portland Timbers
The 2018 season was solid for the Portland Timbers, finishing in 5th for the Western Conference and in 8th overall. The Timbers standings started off poorly while they played in the Red Bull Arena but improved once they returned to playing at their home in Providence Park. The scorching Timbers went on a 15-game win streak that helped them shoot up the Western Conference standings.
During the offseason the Timbers roster went through some changes that could potentially impact the team’s game play but likely won’t change the team’s identity very much. The players that have departed from the team during the offseason include:
- Victor Arboleda – Forward/Midfielder
- Lawrence Olum – Defender/Midfielder
- Jack Gleeson – Goalkeeper
- Jack Barmby – Midfielder
- Roy Miller – Defender
- Alvas Powell – Defender
- Liam Redgewell – Defender
Unfortunately, the Timbers roster had some notable departures like Jake Gleeson, Alvas Powell, Liam Ridgewell and Lawrence Olum. For one, Gleeson was the last remaining player from when the Timbers’ were a part of the United Soccer League (USL). After nearly a decade with the organization, his loss is significant among fans of the team. The loss of Powell and Ridgewell was also significant because they were two consistent starters for the Portland Timbers’ backline since they joined the team.
The Portland Timbers roster also added some new arrivals during the offseason, including:
- Marvin Loria – Midfielder
- Renzo Zambrano – Midfielder
- Aljaz Ivacic – Goalkeeper
- Calude Dielna – Defender
Under the leadership of the new coach, Giovanni Savarese, the Portland Timbers are looking hopeful going into the new season. Now in his second year with a more customized roster, Savarese may be able to help his team avoid some of the pitfalls they faced in the previous season.
Regardless of their overall ranking, the Timbers are always sure to perform well during home games and provide fans with a memorable spectacle.
Photo by Lev Radin.