New York is a city of transplants, a melting pot of millions of people from every walk of life.
That includes Portland Timbers fans.
And when the Timbers take the field at Yankees Stadium on Sunday against MLS expansion club New York City FC (4 pm PT, FOX Sports 1), they’ll do it in front of their largest East Coast supporters group since they joined the league in 2011. Many of those supporters are part of what’s known as the East Coast Platoon, a growing number of Timbers Army regional subgroups that have been popping up across the country in recent years. NYC Loggers is another New York based group.
“There’s a good number of folks who are from Portland and they’re in exile, as we say, and they’re out there in support of the Timbers, or they just love Portland and that’s their way to stay connected to Portland,” said Todd Diskin, the Timbers Army 107ist board member who heads up regional subgroup organization.
The Timbers Army lists 22 regional subgroups in all – with names like Red Regiment (Oklahoma), the Appellation Alliance (Oregon wine country) and Bayou Battalion (New Orleans). Diskin said there are even burgeoning groups internationally, from London to Nepal, underscoring the worldwide popularity of the Timbers and their famous fan support.
One of those supporters is Scott Brown, a resident of State College, Pennsylvania, who lived in Portland in the 1970s and 80s before moving east. When the Timbers joined MLS in 2011, he hopped on Facebook and came across the East Coast Platoon.
“I’m sure I got involved the same way that many people got involved,” Brown said. “It’s as much a byproduct of Facebook, frankly, as it is anything, in that it’s a communal place for people looking for Timbers fans or people of the similar mindset on the East Coast to carve out some kind of connection.”
It not only connected him with like-minded fans on the East Coast, but also fostered a lasting cross-country friendship when Brown met Diskin and his family while they were on vacation to take in Toronto FC and New York Red Bulls away games.
“Now when he comes to Portland for games, he stays at my house, plays on my football team in my over-40 men’s league,” Diskin said. “It’s really cool that way. … You feel like one big family no matter where you’re at.”
Brown said since joining the Platoon, he’s been at almost every Timbers away Eastern Conference games, and that will include Sunday’s matchup. He said the Platoon sold their entire allotment of 450 tickets, marking a record amount of away support for an East Coast match.
“That’s really what this group is for in many respects,” said Brown, who noted the Platoon’s Facebook page has grown from around 250 followers in 2011 to more than 750 today. “It’s a vehicle to help coordinate getting people together before games.”
Brown and Diskin also said the regional subgroups not only coordinate for away matches but for watch parties and other events associated with the Portland-based Timbers Army group. Brown said New York and Washington, D.C. are especially popular for that, given the high concentration of Timbers fans.
Diskin said groups like the Lone Star Brigade in Texas are also growing fast.
“If you do things right at home it tends to resonate really well abroad, and that’s what a lot of people are responding to, that sense of community and connectively and that sense of welcome-ness,” Diskin said.
*All photos courtesy of Timbers Army East Coast Platoon
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.