Timbers Army, Timbers vs. Union, 3.12.12
Photo by Ethan Erickson

"A warm and sunny day in Portland" caps First Kick 2012

PORTLAND, Ore. – Freddy Adu called it “electric.”

Jon Miller, President of Programming for NBC Sports, said he’d never seen anything like it.


And Commissioner Don Garber, well, for him, it was just “another warm and sunny day in Portland.”

That’s what happens these days when you pack 20,438 into JELD-WEN Field. And even if the thermostat didn’t agree with the Commissioner’s assessment – it was somewhere around 40 degrees and the rain came down in sheets at times – the fans and festivities kept the stadium loud, rocking and memorable.

“I’ll be honest with you, I’ve been in the sports business, I’ve been with NBC for 34 years, and I have never seen anything like this tonight. This has blown me away,” Miller said to a media scrum at halftime of Portland’s 3-1 win. “I’ve been to NFL playoff games, and World Series game sevens, and this fanbase should be really proud of itself.”

Miller and NBC, who began their broadcast deal with the league in Sunday’s 2-1 FC Dallas win over the New York Red Bulls, were treated to a virtuoso performance from both the players on the pitch and the fans in the stands on Monday.

The Timbers Army reprised their rendition of the Star Spangled Banner from last year’s season opener. They pored through their entire songbook, ranging from the Monkees to Twisted Sister to the Tetris theme song. And they got what they wanted, with three points and a brand new log slice for Designated Player Kris Boyd.

“I think he’s gonna end up building a house,” head coach John Spencer joked of Boyd’s goal-scoring prowess after the game. “Maybe a nice little log cabin. Hopefully he’s got a nice plot of land somewhere with good views.”

It was that kind of night for the Timbers. And even if Philadelphia were on the wrong end of it, they could still appreciate the atmosphere, passion and importance of the event.

“This is a European crowd. The more we can have this in the league – you know, I don’t think anywhere [in MLS] had this 10 years ago,” Union captain Danny Califf said afterward. “It was never the feel that you get here, or get in Seattle or get in Philly, and so I think the league is heading in the right direction. The teams that are coming it in are doing it right.”

Just another warm, sunny day in Portland, rain or shine.