TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – While the home support of Portland Timbers crowd is legendary, it is also not surprising to see numerous Timbers fans at away matches across MLS. Along with a vibrant traveling corps, there are many cities and areas that have created outposts of the Timbers Army in places such as New York, Texas, and more.
Some 3,000 miles away from Portland, Tegucigalpa proudly joins that list ahead of the Timbers game here Tuesday against CD Olimpia (7pm PT, FOX Sports Plus) thanks to Timbers fan Dan Upp. Upp, who works at the U.S. Embassy in Honduras, has carried his Timbers fandom with him across the world showing his support wherever he can.
Having grown up in Oregon but living and working far away when the Timbers first joined MLS, Upp immediately became a fan in 2011 as a way to stay connected to life back home. He joined the 107 Independent Supporters Trust and makes an effort to see at least one game in person each season—regardless of where he is in the world.
“Since I've been living in Honduras, I've flown up to visit my sister in Philadelphia on the same weekend that the Timbers were in town to play the Union,” he said.
This season, however, has proved a challenge to get back to the States. But a fortuitous draw with CONCACAF put the Timbers and Olimpia—one of Tegucigalpa’s local teams and Honduran qualifiers for the 2014-15 Champions League—into the same Group 5. If he couldn’t make it up to see a Timbers game, the Timbers would come to him.
“I'm over the moon that everything lined up for them to come down here,” said Upp.
Though he may be one of the few if not only Timbers fans in Honduras—“Unless there are some TA in deep cover down here that I don't know about,” he joked—that hasn’t stopped him from recruiting new fans for Tuesday’s game.
Utilizing his sizeable scarf and flag collection, Upp put out the call to his fellow staffers at the U.S. Embassy for a picture—Upp appears in the lower right corner of the image above on one knee—and to join him at the game. Americans as well as Honduran fans of Olimpia’s crosstown rival team CD Motagua jumped at a chance to grow the Timbers Army. For Motagua, it’s a bit of the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend situation as the two teams share the same home field and are often battling for league supremacy as well as local bragging rights in the El Clásico Capitalino rivalry.
“I was surprised at how many Motagua fans showed up eager to grab a scarf,” said Upp. “They were more than happy to get behind anyone who is coming to play Olimpia. When Tuesday night rolls around there will be thousands of Motagua fans [across the country] hoping for a Portland victory. Well, okay, they'll really be hoping for an Olimpia loss, but that essentially amounts to the same thing for our purposes, so we'll take it.”
The Timbers head into the game with the chance to advance to next spring’s CCL championship knockout round needing a win, draw, or even a loss depending on goals scored. Sitting in second place in the group, Olimpia has opened up sections of their pitch at Estadio Tiburcio Carías Andino for free admission to help swell their home field advantage. However, if you see a patch of green in the sea of Olimpia fans, you’ll know it’s Upp furthering the Timbers support.
“I think it's going to be a great time at the stadium,” he said. “It's going to be a lot of fun to see how it plays out on Tuesday.”