PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers picked up a very important three points in their 1-0 win over the Colorado Rapids Sunday night.
And while the win was huge for the team’s push to make the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs, Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury was taking particular note to remember it all. The veteran of over 350 career MLS games was playing in his final regular-season home match for the club, having announced earlier this fall that he would be retiring at the close of the 2016 campaign.
There was a huge roar from the crowd as he was announced to the starting XI, he was given the honor of wearing the captain’s armband on the day, he addressed the Providence Park crowd briefly in a pregame ceremony where he thanked the supporters, and he was active throughout the match, creating five chances on the night—tying a career high with the team.
“My wife told me before the game to make sure to soak it in tonight because there are going to be some special times,” he said after the game. “I didn’t know what that meant, but there were a lot of them. I was a little emotional at times and kind of fighting back the tears. It was a bit overwhelming, but first and foremost we wanted to get three points today, and I’m just glad that happened. It’s a positive day.”
The victory was essential in that it set up a final regular-season match against Vancouver Whitecaps FC next Sunday with one basic goal: Win, and the team will qualify for the playoffs. Given the team’s long and storied history with Vancouver, and with the Cascadia Cup also on the line in the match in Canada, Jewsbury is confident in his team’s ability to succeed.
“The reality is that it comes down to one game for us now to extend our season,” he said. “I think that just changes the mindset as a whole. It’s not the sixth game of the season on the road where it’s hard to see the finish line. It’s do or die.”
At the final whistle, as the team made their lap around the stadium to recognize the crowd, a loud chant of “Thank you, Jack!” could be heard from every corner. When pressed about what that outpouring felt like, Jewsbury was characteristically grateful and humble.
“It means the world to me,” he said. “In the six years that I’ve been here, those fans and the people and the organization have been a huge part of my life; not only mine, but also my girls.
“It was an emotional day. It’s hard to put into words to be quite honest. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was definitely blown away with all of the support.”