A Friendly Host in Portland
At Saturday's Portland-Colorado match, there was a fairly sizable contingent of Rapids supporters. Moments before kickoff, they had marched loudly from Timbers turf, The Bitter End pub, into JELD-WEN Field. With the blessing of the home fans.
The cultural exchange was the second phase of something which began back in February.
“As soon as the fixture list was released this was the one game that grabbed everyone’s imagination [in Colorado],” said Rapids fan Richard Bamber of the Bulldogs Supporters Group last night. “All the fans were saying they’d heard great things about the Timbers fans and the city.”
Bamber said they took the opportunity of hosting Portland’s inaugural MLS game in March to start a relationship between the two clubs.
“We made a decision. We’ll always have Salt Lake as our hated rivals, and the Timbers will always have Seattle. So we’ll go the other way and cultivate a friendship all the way up to the kick off, and after. Hopefully for years.”
Bamber was soon on the phone with the Timbers Army’s and 107 Independent Supporters Trust board member Abe Goldman-Armstrong. The result: in March Timbers fans were hosted in pubs and at a tailgate, bussed around and generally made welcome in Denver like no other fans before.
Bamber’s plan for away travel is taking its first step in Portland. “We know people have to travel to certain cities for work or to see family. We want them to base their schedule around the MLS games. Then we’d have 50 people at every away game, which would be huge.”
At 6:30 pm Saturday, Rapids fan Mani Nadjmi was looking good in the crush of the Bitter End. “This is my first way trip. I picked it because Portland is amazing, I could easily move here.” The Portland fans had promised to return the favor and so Nadjmi had been saving up ever since.
Nadjmi said the fans had greatly enjoyed a Saturday lunchtime tailgate with the Timbers Army. “We took a nap afterward because we want to make sure we keep this party atmosphere going all night.” Sunday’s plan included a look at the waterfront and Rose Festival.
It was his first time in Oregon for John Forget, who manages the British Bulldog pub in Denver.
“Portland is a lot like Denver, it’s a live and let live city,” said Forget before the game. “And we knew about the passion your supporters have, and we wanted to honor it by showing you guys a good time.”
On Friday his posse stayed out until five a.m. “The we pulled it back together this afternoon and traded ideas with the Timbers Army.”
One thing Rapids want is more capos and better chanting. “We want to see our stadium get to that level," said Forget. "Where every person who comes is a supporter, filled with passion, standing, drinking and enjoying it as an experience.”
For the Timbers it was all about being a good host. “The reason we have tail gates isn’t [just] so we can have fun. It’s so our visitors can understand the way that we do things here,” said Timbers Army regular John Daiker.
Like all of the Timbers faithful however, he found that the 90th minute gift to the Rapids was a bit too generous.