It’s not every day that a fan gets to travel with their favorite team on an away trip. But just such a unique journey occurred this last weekend as a group of season ticket holders, Timbers Army supporters and season ticket wait list members—selected at random—hopped on a charter flight alongside the traveling Portland Timbers team and staff on their way Toronto.
One couple got engaged, others visited Niagara Falls, and though the result didn’t go Portland’s way, everyone had memories to last.
Below is a collection of photos, tweets and a series of “postcards” from the trip from fans journaling about their travels there and back from Canada.
"I can't believe this is really happening TOMORROW!
Thinking back, I'm laughing because when my husband Kyle called to tell me we had won something, I thought it would be one of those weird scams you get in the mail... But it wasn't. Kyle and I have been avid fans of the Timbers since they were in the USL eight years ago. So when I found out we won, there was this great moment where my husband was thinking I wouldn't be going—we have a one year old and this will be our first trip away—and I yelled, "Are you kidding?! This is like getting to go to the Oscars for me!" So with the help of the in-laws we are making it happen."
"I admit to being hopeful when I entered the contest, entertaining lots of "what if" thoughts. A friend tweeted congratulations to me while I was out walking my dog on Tuesday evening, and I thought he was joking. I'd never won anything before, so I had a bit of a hard time wrapping my head around the idea."
"This adventure really started when I was invited to join Don Baldwin on the trip. This meant many silly text messages counting down the days, and then hours. This meant web searches of Toronto happenings, sights, and BMO Field and airplane regulations pertaining to banners, flags, zip ties and the like. This meant adding Toronto to my phone weather app and checking it daily to see what it was like at any given moment, and if the predictions were changing at all for the time we would be there. This meant a few nights of struggling to fall asleep after giddy days of 'working.' Mostly it meant and exciting week."
"Winning the chance to travel to Toronto with the Timbers was, to say the least, awesome."
"Up early Thursday morning for our trip to Toronto with the Timbers, Alex [Cook] and I are beaming with excitement. Little did I know more excitement was on the way and we'd be engaged before we boarded the flight!
At the airport we were greeted by Timbers' staff who were incredibly welcoming. Blissed out of my mind from getting engaged, I was on cloud nine as we waited with the Timbers and staff for our flight. On board we made new friends, met Caleb Porter, and just tried to take in every moment of this unique behind-the-scenes opportunity.
In Toronto, we were upgraded to a gorgeous corner room with 2 walls of windows in honor of our engagement. We settled in, grabbed a romantic bite to eat, and had a few drinks with all our new friends."
"I’m SO excited. Kyle and I managed to "play it cool" at the airport although I may have let out a quiet squeal when I saw Diego Valeri... I just want the Timbers to know how much we love them. When I was pregnant they literally got me through it. I got to chat with Caleb Porter. What a smart, intense guy."
"Arriving at PDX on Thursday, without really knowing what was going to happen.
Immediately, it became clear that this was going to be a relaxed and fun-filled trip, and that we didn't need to worry about any of the details.
Boarding our flight and watching the team and support staff board behind us.
So many familiar faces.
Great flight, and excellent service.
Arriving at the hotel in Toronto and taking in the amazing location and view.
Poutine (of course) at Amsterdam Brewhouse with Jenny and Marty. We closed the place down."
"Thursday Don picked me up early and we laughed our way to the airport.
Once through security, we hung out at the gate. I had the chance to meet Sam the Kit Man [Timbers equipment manager Sam Younie], whom I had exchanged emails with six months ago. He remembered the exchange right off. It was nice to meet him in person.
The traveling support was respectful, quiet, easy going. The food was good (the first meal I've been served on a North American flight in 20 years). Don and I tried to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark but I was a bit too anxious and spent most of the flight chatting instead. Coach Porter came back to say hello. I gave him my Northend Soul scarf and we chatted about my friends and why we made the scarf. It was nice of him to take the time to get to know everyone on the plane. A gentleman."
“We were able to get a few signatures to ‘the ball’ from the players before getting on the flight, as well as a few more as the players passed by on the flight, and then a flurry of signatures in the customs line and luggage carousel in Canada. For me that was probably the best moment of the trip, as I got to meet my favorite player #6 Darlington Nagbe, where he signed ‘the ball’ and the Nagbe kit I was wearing, and I got pictures of the whole thing! I’ve never had the opportunity to meet any of my sports heroes before, so getting to meet and talk to the entire team was edging on overwhelming.”
"Friday was filled with exploring beautiful Toronto. We wandered around, had a few brews at a local pub, took in a movie at the Toronto International Film Festival theatre, and dined at Amsterdam Brew House while we watched planes land and boats float by."
"Toronto is a fantastic city—superb for walking and exploring. The Timbers hooked us up with a fantastic hotel in the heart of the action, spitting distance from the CN Tower, Rogers Center, Air Canada Center and the harbor."
"What a great day! We walked the streets of Toronto all day. What a beautiful multicultural place and I got to visit the CN Tower which is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Who knew? I spent some time with some of the staff, what a great group! Excited about tomorrow."
"Friday walking around Toronto. King and Queen streets, and the waterfront.
Finding that there was a Portland street. Probably not named after ours, but who cares.
Finding the Football Factory Pub and showing our colors. They were not amused."
"Friday we got up, went to check out the underground system, and then off to Niagara Falls. My other Northend Soul scarf was with me the whole trip. I was in Canada to help represent Oregon, the Timbers, and their supporters.
Back at the hotel to change into clean and dry clothes, then out to look for street hot dogs for lunch. We walked over 10 miles Friday. Dinner was (too much) poutine before the meet-up organized by the East Coast Platoon (ECP) at the Town Crier Pub.
We meet an ECP/Timbers supporter from Pittsburgh who has never been to Oregon. He picked the Timbers to follow after seeing [during a Portland game on TV] a Timbers Army anti-discrimination display, complete with rainbow flags and banners. Nice fella. Has the MLS Live package with a friend to enable him to watch all of the Timbers matches.
Fellow Portland travelers meet us as well. We break in our chanting voices yelling at each other over loud music and great beer. We teach each other player chants we have written. We stumble home tired and excited. Tomorrow is match day."
"The game itself was a treat despite the fact we were as far away from the field as one can get. Though it was a lovely day, it was breezy, especially at the top of the stands, and several of us were a bit wind-burned. I doubted whether the players would be able to hear us given the distance from the pitch and the way the wind was blowing, but Nat Borchers told me on the flight home that they could hear us just fine.
Thanks again for the trip. My only regret (aside from the result) is not taking the opportunity to meet more of the ECP folks who were there."
"BMO Field pales in comparison to our own Providence Park, but it does have quite the view—quite the view if, like us traveling TA, you get to sit up with the gods, higher than the traveling seagulls. That said, the locals were friendly and the traveling TA in high spirits so a good time was had by all (other than the lack of points but not sure we need to focus on that).
Traveling with the team was an interesting experience. Will Johnson, Nat Borchers and Jack Jewsbury were extremely friendly and came back to chat with us kids at the back of the plane on the way home. I thought that was a classy and nice touch on their part—thank you, boys, for going above and beyond after a tough game and making the trip for the lucky traveling fans that much more special by hanging out and chatting.
I can’t thank the 107ist and Timbers enough for the chance to travel along for the ride—it was a great ride."
"Well... we didn't get three points but we did have quite the day. Toronto’s stadium is HUGE. It really put into perspective how amazing Providence Park is.
I thought that we would have a very quiet flight home after the loss, but after a cheer to welcome the players on the plane, everyone relaxed. I ended up chatting with quite a few players and also got my picture with Borchers!! And I got to lightly touch his beard. What a nice guy.
Our boys work hard and travel is exhausting. I was also impressed with how kind they all are! Love the Timbers more than ever and am so thankful to have this unforgettable experience."
"Saturday morning breakfast with friends from the Netherlands, who just happened to be in Toronto for just that one day.
Bus to BMO Field and meeting up with the Timbers Army East Coast Platoon. Great Tifo guys.
Climbing to the sky to find our seats.
Super smooth transition from the stadium, to bus, to airport.
Low key flight with Nat, Will and Jack joining us as the back of the plane. Class job guys, and great to talk to you.
PDX once more, and a cab ride home.
Sixty hours of fun, laughs, meeting new friends, and an amazing trip, organized by a great club. Thanks so much for everything Timbers, and please let us know if you ever do that again."
"Bus ride to the stadium. Loud thank you's to our fearless group leaders and organizers, and the chanting begins. Outside the stadium, we group up for our escorted walk to the upper reaches of the stands.
We jump and clap and sing for victory, but it is a difficult match for the Timbers. We are scored on early and Valeri is subbed off early with an injury.
I lose my voice chanting and singing. Before I know it, I am being escorted back to the bus with the gang, and off to the airport.
The plane ride home is fun. The frustration [from the loss] washes away with a good meal, honest conversations with players, Timbers staff, journalists, and supporters. Plans are made for matchday meet ups. I doze the last hour into PDX.
At the airport we see the team and we run into Porter. He is visibly upset about the loss. Apologizes to us. He is wearing this loss on top of the others. This is a man who wants to win and really hates losing. On the shuttle we end up on together we over hear him talking with a couple of his assistant coaches about the [the game], statistics, numbers of tackles, passes, etc. He is a machine. His mind a steel trap. He is not happy. He wants more. This makes me happy because I do too.
I'm excited that Wednesday I get to see my Portland Timbers play again. This time at home with 20,000 of my closest friends instead of the 20 I traveled to Toronto with.
I hope the players give me reasons to sing their names. My voice will be recovered by then.
"It was a tough loss for the Timbers, but no time to dwell with the upcoming mid-week match. Plane ride home was surreal as several Timbers players came back to talk with fans for more than just hi-thanks-bye. Thanks again to everyone in the Timbers organization for being so awesome, the 107ist, anyone else involved that I am missing."
"Aside from the all the engagement hoopla, the absolute HIGHLIGHT of my trip:
On the flight home, Nat Borchers came back to visit with us and we discovered that we grew up in the same small home town of Pueblo, Col., where he graduated from rival East High the same year I graduated from South High in '99. We know many of the same people and he's even friends with my cousin. We talked about all the amazing food spots in Pueblo and talked smack about being high school rivals. Yes, this same guy who more than 20,000 Timbers fans celebrate by wearing masks with his face on them at matches, is just a small town Pueblo boy, married to a Pueblo girl, left missing Pueblo's famous green chili through his amazing life's adventures. We wrapped up our half-hour convo with a picture, Pueblo kid to Pueblo kid, from rival small town high schools, united just the same, 16 years after high school in Timbers green & gold.
BEST ENGAGEMENT WEEKEND EVER!!! Thank you Timbers for the amazing memories and experience!!!"