Timbers supporters gather at Portland pubs to cheer on the first game
Timbers fans gathered in bars across Portland to watch the team’s first MLS game live from the home of the Colorado Rapids. At Kell’s Irish Restaurant & Pub downtown, owner Gerard McAleese cut music at the cavernous St Patrick’s Irish Festival tent for a couple of hours, and turned up the TV volume.
Joseph Gorecki, a nurse who has played soccer since age five and been a Timbers fan since 2005, was at Kell’s for the soccer first and foremost. “I expect a hard fought match,” said Gorecki. “I want to see intensity, because they’re making a statement tonight, their first game in MLS.”
As for the score, he said “It’s going to be at least a tie game, I’m thinking a win, 2-1 Timbers. But I’d be happy with a draw,” he added.
Gorecki had brought along his colleague Aaron Studs for his first Timbers game.
“[Joseph] convinced me with beer and sports,” said Studs. “That’s what I like to do, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I expect today to be crazy and I think the score will be 3 to 1, Timbers.”
Accountant Max Schwartz, 34, is in his third year as a Timbers season ticket holder. “I’ve been working 60-70 hour work weeks, so this is a great opportunity to let out some steam and watch the team.”
His expectation was just that the game be competitive. “I hope we’ll be as competitive as possible from day one. If you’ve got an attitude of losing you’re just going to lose.”
Timbers fan Susan Williams “I expect Portland is going to show MLS what soccer’s about. I would like to see them win, but it is Colorado. It’ll be tough.” Mainly though she came to see teamwork. “I want to see skill, and playing together as a team - I want to see community in that respect.”
She was there with her husband Kevin, who feeds here a stream of blog stories about the Timbers. (Williams is the brother of former pro player Richie Williams, who was until recently assistant coach at the New York Red Bulls.)
“I’m just looking for a fun place to watch the game with a bunch of fans,” he said.
Colorado’s eighth minute goal against Portland sucked the wind out of the tent, and the second goal, on 29 minutes, had Timbers fan Eric Mitchell shaking his head.
He praised Colorado, but even after the third goal flew in as he spoke, he did not give up on the Timbers. “They’ll make a comeback in the second half,” he said.
Dan Hagan was shocked as the third goal went in though he was not panicking. “Soccer’s a really long season, if they even lost the first five games I wouldn’t worry, you can do that and still make the playoffs.
A dozen blocks away the Timbers Army and the 107 Independent Supporters Trust had secured the Bing Lounge, a private auditorium in the base of the PacWest building.
As the second half opened, Lucas Grzybowski however was still feeling hopeful. “It would be nice if they could pull one back. The best now is to get a goal and lose 3-1, then we can point to somebody tomorrow and say ‘He got a goal!’”
In the 50th minute fan Randy Wilson had not given up. “My realistic hope for the second half is we score four goals and they score none.”
With many fans still reeling by the three Colorado goals in 20 minutes, former Portland Tribune editor Roger Anthony felt Cooper’s goal to make it 3-1 was proof of an improved second half. “A loss wasn’t a shock, it’s kind of what I expected. You’ve gotta crawl before you walk.”
“Hermes” who presents Shed Culture on Cascadia FM offered this assessment, “The game’s not going our way, but the bigger picture is we’ve arrived and we’re in MLS. It’s early on, we have 33 games to go.”