Though the Portland Timbers lost Saturday 1-0 defeat at BMO Field to Toronto FC, a small group of lucky Timbers fans in attendance had a unique experience.
Through a drawing offered by the team's front office, 22 fans joined the team on this year's trip to Ontario. Made up of Timbers Army supporters, season ticket holders, and season ticket wait list members, the group flew on the team's charter flight and were put up in a hotel for the weekend’s match. For two fans in particular, it was a weekend they’ll never forget.
Alex Cook and Kristy Faricy had been dating for more than a year. They originally met working together at Portland nonprofit Central City Concern, and now things were serious. Proposal serious.
Cook, however, didn't know the best way to pop the question. Until he found out he had won a chance to join the Timbers on their trip to Toronto.
“I’ve been thinking about exactly when and how and where and those kinds of things for awhile, and this kind of answered those questions for me,” Cook told MLSsoccer.com from Toronto before the Saturday’s match.
Last Thursday, the morning before they were to catch the flight east, Cook set up a kind of text-message scavenger hunt for Faricy. The last clue had Faricy digging through Cook's backpack.
“He had the box of the ring underneath things in his backpack, and I was like, ‘What is this?’” Faricy said. “And I opened it up, and he just looked at me and said, ‘I want you to be my wife.’ And I lost it and just started crying the biggest happy tears and couldn’t get any words out.”
Eventually, she got one word out: "Yes." Then they headed to the airport.
Cook has been a Timbers fans since 2003 before he went off to college and season-ticket holder since he became a regular at Providence Park when he moved back from college in 2009. He introduced Faricy to the team, who quickly fell in love with the game as well.
The chance to rub shoulders with their players on a cross-country charter flight was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The chance to do it as a fiancés was even more special.
“The guys are very awesome and good about signing autographs and taking pictures and certainly a lot of fans were doing that,” Cook said. “Coach Porter came back and shook everyone’s hand and even took a couple of minutes to get to know every single fan. I thought that was really cool.”
A Timbers spokesman told MLSsoccer.com that the weekend went off without a hitch for the traveling band of fans and helped remind the team of the bond they have with their fans.
In the days leading up the game, Cook and Faricy did some sightseeing around downtown Toronto, checked out the city's famous foodie scene and took in the views of Lake Ontario and the cityscape from their 32nd-floor room. The game itself, especially after a non-favorable result for the traveling fans, might have just been an afterthought of the whole trip.
“We were just on cloud nine and our friends were on cloud nine for us just to be able to go on the trip, let alone the engagement, so it’s been spectacular,” Faricy said.