Timbers bid farewell to TJ, dispatch Puerto Rico
On a night the Timbers said goodbye to longtime and legendary team icon Timber Jim, veteran Chris Brown's goal in the 71st minute gave Portland a 1-0 win over Puerto Rico before 10,977 at PGE Park Thursday night.
It was Brown's first goal in a Portland uniform after several seasons playing in MLS. Tom Poltl assisted on the decisive play.
Taking advantage of the new state-of-the-art FieldTurf playing surface at PGE Park, the Timbers have not lost a regular-season match at PGE Park in their last 15 games.
Timbers fans, players and management gave several tributes to Timber Jim, the team's loyal mascot for decades who has decided to hang up his chainsaw. Fans sang "You Are My Sunshine" in honor of TJ late in the match. Players posed with Timber Jim, who delivered a passionate pre-game speech to the team, after the game for a sentimental team photo in front of a spirited Section 107, which houses the most ardent fans in the USL.
Team owner Merritt Paulson, head coach Gavin Wilkinson, play-by-play man Andy McNamara and player Andrew Gregor all took part in a special halftime ceremony to celebrate Timber Jim's tenure with the club. The team presented Timber Jim with a lifetime season ticket, a framed team jersey and unveiled a special chainsaw banner that will hang proudly from the venerable rafters at PGE Park.
Timber Jim's farewell message to the Portland faithful: "Spread the love!"
The match got chippy at times, with one red card going Puerto Rico's way in addition to the ejection of one of the team's coaches. A sizable skirmish got the attention of both teams at the beginning of stoppage time.
The attendance was the second-largest for a Timbers opener since the team joined the USL First Division in 2001, second only to the team's inaugural USL home match in 2001.
Stay tuned for a full match report on Thursday's season-opening victory.