MLS Cup | A marriage proposal and old friends: Timbers Army family arrives en masse in Atlanta

The Timbers Army descended on Atlanta for the MLS Cup in a way that was reminiscent of a giant family reunion. Everywhere you looked in Atlanta Friday, there were familiar faces.

Whether it was Timber Jim and Timbers original Roger Goldingay hanging out by the Victory Log outside the Timbers Army get-together or the groups of Timbers Army supporters throughout the streets of Downtown, Midtown, and the Atlantic Station neighborhoods, the traveling faithful made its presence known Friday night. And like most family reunions, there were numerous little stories to tell with each fan bringing their own reasoning to how they came to be more than 2,000 miles away from Providence Park.

Take Kiley Borrevik, for example. Borrevik, who lives in Bend, has attended Timbers games since the club’s USL era and along with his girlfriend, Milaine Dickinson, and has attended at least one road Timbers match in each of the last three seasons. Borrevik wanted to make sure that the trip to Atlanta was extra special.

“After the Western Conference Finals, it popped into my brain to propose at the Final,” Borrevik said.

And that’s exactly what he did. In front of a raucous Timbers Army at Atlanta’s Foxtrot Liquor Bar and with the help of Thorns FC goalkeeper Adrianna Franch, Borrevik popped the question to his longtime girlfriend. Dickinson answered yes to the delight of the crowd.

When asked why he decided to propose in front of the Army, Borrevik said, “We’ve bonded so much over this organization, from Timbers to Thorns games.”

While Borrevik and Dickinson stole the show at the Timbers Army party Friday night, there were hundreds of other fans with their own unique stories to tell.

Lake Oswego resident Louis Baez came to Atlanta with a group of six cousins and friends, some of whom traveled from California for the match. After his brother organized a trip to the 2015 MLS Cup in Columbus, Baez knew they would have to return again in 2018.

“We do it for the Timbers Army and we do it for each other,” Baez said. “It’s an almost once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with the community, even in Atlanta.”

Baez is a regular fixture at Timbers matches in Portland with his friends and loves being around his fellow fans of the beautiful game. And that’s why he’s here in Atlanta.

“I wanted to come and enjoy the experience with people who love soccer as much as I do,” Baez said.

And the love of soccer and the connection to family is what brought Kenneth Reade to Atlanta. The Gresham native, who now lives in Northampton, Mass., first started attending Timbers games in 1975 with his father. Reade still remembers the opponent from his first match (the Dallas Tornado) and how his dad went and stood in a standing room-only section with fellow Irish and English immigrants.

As a child, Reade started collecting autographs in a small notecard-sized red booklet. And for 43 years, Reade has kept his red Timbers autograph book. With his autograph book in hand, Reade hung out at the Timbers Army party Friday night and recalled his favorite signature from his book.

“Definitely Peter Withe, who signed the book ‘Best Wishes from Peter Withe’ in perfect English prose,” Reade said.

While Reade’s autograph book has filled up, he hasn’t added any new signatures since the 2015 MLS Cup when Timber Jim approached Reade and asked him if he could sign the book. Timber Jim’s signature is the last one that lives in the book.

From Massachusetts and Bend and California, they came to Georgia. To be with family.