Supporters gather, celebrate, commiserate, and reflect on Portland-Seattle match
The day started brightly, at least.
In their eagerness to get a good spot behind the goal, Timbers fans attempted to start a line Friday and Saturday but were rousted out. They settled for coming back at just after midnight on Sunday morning, July 10.
By 10:30 am Sunday the line snaked around the stadium to 18th Avenue. Supporters jingled their keys at Sounders fans and sang “Go home you bums.” The atmosphere was a three way split between hostile, jovial and nervous.
CJ Speelman benefitted from having friends save him a spot and showed up around 11am. He was heading to 106. “I’m excited about supporting the Timbers and having fun with my friends, and hopefully we’ll see a win,” Speelman said. Afterwards he planned to go back to North Portland and take a nap.
Heidi Hesseldahl and her husband Mels Hesseldahlhad been there since 7 am and sported a banner reading “Fight the Flounders, Stomp on them good-and-hard.” They got hooked on the Timbers last season when a spare ticket came Mels’ way. “The first time I ever sang ‘Build a bonfire’ I was in,” said Heidi. “We just want to get down in the front in any section, we have friends in several sections and bounce around,” she added.
Her husband said of the team, “I expect the team to come out fighting hard, from what I’ve read the new players get the rivalry.” He compared it to Michigan versus Ohio State college football. “We could turn the whole season if we could eke out a victory here,” said Mels. “But if we lose, we’ll be here too,” added Heidi.
“If we lost I’d be down for a while,” chipped in her other half. “We drove in from Hood River so it’d be a long drive home.”
Laurie Zunker, her husband David and their 7 month-old son Noah flew in from San Antonio, Texas for their first game, a birthday present for David. They picked Portland as their MLS team because they like the city. They are the only Timbers fans they know in that town.
“We expect the Timbers to win, and we expect lots of rowdiness from the fans,” she added.
Alex Dubov, a sports business student from Eugene, arrived four hours before the kick off and spent the time walking the line saying hi to friends.
“I expect a rollercoaster of emotions from this game,” he said. “I’m probably gonna hit every emotional high and low today.”
He is originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, before moving to Portland, and knows his teams. He follows the Oregon Ducks, Trail Blazers, Boston Red Sox, and Tottenham Hotspur.
Halftime had fans still excited to see the final result. All kitted out in green was Noelle Child, there with her 14-year-old son Harry in the Timbers Army section 105.
“We have pretty good ball movement going on, just can’t get it in,” commented Harry. They’re regulars who get tickets from friends. Harry’s mom said he was maybe old enough to go on his own. “The Army is harmless,” she said.
Also refueling at half time was Portland resident Nello Picinich. He wore a Sounders jersey. His sons Landon and Benjamin and wife Michelle all root for the Timbers.
“I was born and raised in Seattle and my family had season tickets in the NASL days, front row.” Picinich was just about to explain why his kids were wearing Timbers forest green when the Portland scored an early second half goal and the North End erupted.
After the game a burly Kurt Stierle, who came with his brother Paul Stierle, was to be found smiling in section 118. “It was very exciting, very exciting,” said the former pro soccer player. His brother Paul said Kurt played for the LA Aztecs and the Sounders 25 years ago. “We needed the three points, sorry for the Timbers, but good soccer game,” said Kurt. He added, “I love the atmosphere down here, it’s great what you guys have done down here. Love the atmosphere.”
John Teeter and his wife Jennifer Teeter from Eugene were sitting in a sea of empty seats behind John Spencer’s technical area after the game. “It was fun, but it was tough,” he said. “I thought we might win before the game. But even when it was 2-1, they still had Fredy Montero.”
The Teeters are season ticket holders who are in their third season. “I love soccer and being near the field, we’re in no hurry to drive back to Eugene.”
As for what’s left to look forward to? Teeter paused. “We’re not playing very well so I’d like to see us passing more, and keeping the ball. Hopefully that’ll improve. They’re expansion, so I’m not too worried.”