Portland Timbers players and coaches meet with fans at Rose City Rewards party
On Monday night, JELD-WEN Field was taken over by the supporters as the Portland Timbers hosted a popular Rose City Rewards Party.
For those who had gained enough points, they were treated to the unqiue experience of meeting the Timbers players and staff, walking on the famous pitch, and getting a tour of the locker room, on what turned out to be a beautiful summer’s evening.
Everywhere you turned, someone connected with the Timbers was engaging with the fans. In front of the KeyBank Club head coach Caleb Porter hosted a Q&A, on the pitch owner Merritt Paulson stopped to shake hands, floating around the sidelines were Timbers players who posed for photos, and even Timber Joey was busy scribbling his autograph for supporters.
Smiles could be seen stretched across the faces of every supporter within the stadium as it was as if they had been let loose in a candy store and allowed to pick whatever they wanted. As one fan quipped, “if this is the reward for being a Timbers fan, then I better make sure that I never ever miss a game”.
For the Timbers organization, it was simply a chance to give something back to those who have been so loyal and passionate in rooting for them. And that was why captain Will Johnson was more than happy to pose for photos on the team bench and to interact with anyone who wanted to gush some praise his way.
“It is much different than a game day, because you get to come out and meet people on a personal level. It’s cool to see the people, hang out with their kids and their families for a little bit, relax and interact with one another,” said Johnson.
“The longer that I’m here the more faces I recognize around town from people in the crowd. And it’s important to recognize them too because without the fans there is no game and these occasions are big for both sides to grow that relationship between the fans and the players.
“The Timbers fans are very unique, they are some of the best in North America, no doubt. They create some of the best game day atmospheres and when you are on the field playing when they are singing, it is hard to put into words what that feels like. So it’s nice to show them a little appreciation for all of that.”
All around the stadium, supporters were made to feel like VIP guests with kids taking part in a speed kick competition, a lucky few picking up some excellent prizes in a raffle, some testing their FIFA13 skills against players, and others taking part in a Stand Together auction. There was certainly no shortage of things to do and see.
It was a night for the supporters that Timber Joey – the team’s iconic log-cutting mascot – was delighted to be part of because he believes that there are no fans like the Timbers’ in MLS, so it is important to make them realize that their efforts are not taken for granted.
“Every player on the team is a class individual, which is shown by the fact they are willing to come out here, shake hands, sign autographs and take photos with the supporters. So nights like this are special because the players clearly enjoy being part of it and interacting with the supporters,” said Timber Joey.
Gareth Maher is a contributing writer to PortlandTimbers.com. He is a frequent writer about soccer for the Irish Daily Mail in Dublin as well as ESPNFC.com.