Soccer City USA

What's PDX known for best?

What do sports fans mention first? Soccer or basketball?
By Cliff Pfenning,

When drivers for Uber or Lyft pick passengers up at the airport and describe Portland on the way to a downtown hotel, the many nicknames for the city easily glide off the pallet - Rose City, Bridgetown, Bridge City, Stumptown among the top ones.

And, Portland has two very distinct monikers for sports: Rip City and Soccer City. Or is it Soccer City and Rip City?

That's the Sports Jury question for this week, which you can vote for on the front page of

Portland has an equally fanatic fanbase for both basketball and soccer, but which one would come up first as in if there were an election and every resident could only vote for one? Ultimately the outcome might be 50.1 - 49.9 percent. One of the names would need to come first. What do Portlanders know Portland best for?

Is it Rip City? Portland got the nickname in 1977 during the NBA Title run, when radio play-by-play commentator Bill Schonely came up with it to highlight the key moments of the stirring season. Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, Bobby Gross, Dave Twardzik - they were Red Hot and Rollin' in the Rip City. Portland began a sellout streak at Memorial Coliseum that engrained 12,666 - a full house - in everyone's mind.

Portland is Rip City.

By 1977, though, Portland had already developed the nickname Soccer City from its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League due to the large, loud crowds that took over Civic Stadium for Timbers games. When the team actually outperformed its expansion expectations and reached the playoffs, not only did the Timbers win, they set attendance records twice on the way to Soccer Bowl '75.

The team and league folded less that a decade later, but the rebirth of the franchise in 2001 and it's move to Major League Soccer in 2011, have come with a fanatacism the rest of the nation has watched and admired as the way to support an American team with European flavour.

Portland is Soccer City, USA.

But with just one vote, which one gets it?



Timbers, Pilots share a common denominator

Harry Merlo not only supported UP's program, he owned the Timbers
By Cliff Pfenning,

Harry Merlo.

The name is recognized for the University of Portland's prized soccer field (how many fields actually have grass on them anymore?), and as a supporter of sporting events in the 80s by Oregonians family with the state's history.

But, most people don't know of his history with the Portland Timbers - as owner for three seasons through through the lumber company Lousiana Pacific, which he was president of for 22 years.

With the team ready to fold, Merlo came to the rescue in 1980 and provided plenty of cash and optimism - including the franchises indoor team - in rollicking days of the North American Soccer League.

Portland had already established itself as Soccer City, USA, in the stands, and Merlo sought to take advantage of that on the field through signing European players. But, it didn't take and the team finished above .500 in just one of those three seasons. With the team unprofitable at the close of the '82 season, Merlo looked for a buyer but none arrived. The team folded.

The three extra years, though, helped Soccer City, USA, long into the future, though, as many influential figures in the Rose City's soccer history arrived, or remained here from their home bases in Great Britain.

The story of Portland's soccer roots are covered in 

Oregonsports Journal


The Timbers' road show bombs again, 3-0

Portland loses at Colorado and sinks back into West cellar
Sept. 5, 2012

The winless road season continued one more game Wednesday for the Portland Timbers, who lost 3-0 to the Colorado Rapids at Dicks Sporting Goods Park.

Colorado scored twice in the first half and then late in the game to avenge a Friday night loss in Portland and leap from the Western Conference cellar in the process.

Portland fell to 7-14-6, 27 points, just behind Colorado, which improved to 9-17-2, 29 points.

Chivas USA, which has three wins over Portland, is 7-11-7, 28 points.

Portland has 10 days off before playing host to Seattle in a pivotal Cascadia Cup game.

The Timbers, with the loss, remained the lone MLS team without a road victory. and have been outscored on the road 28-6.

Portland is 2-6-2, 8 points, under interim coach Gavin Wilkinson.



Soccer City pounds brothers from Philly, 3-1

Boyd scores on a night of firsts for the Timbers in MLS regular season opener
March 12, 2012 / By Mike Donovan,

In the opening match of their second MLS campaign, the Portland Timbers used a series of firsts to defeat the Philadelphia Union, 3-1, on a soaking wet night at Jeld-Wen Field. 

Kris Boyd and Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored on their MLS debuts, while Kalif Alhassan scored in his first MLS goal and first regular season goal ever in Portland to lead the way for the Timbers. The club also won after conceding the first goal, something it was unable to do in 17 chances in 2011.

After a scoreless and sometimes slow-paced first half, the Union were the ones to get on the score sheet first when a Gabriel Gomez free kick found the back of the net after a deflection by Jean-Baptiste. While officially a Gomez goal, even Jean-Baptiste admitted after the match he was the one who put it in.

“We all make mistakes. Every defender who has played has scored an own goal,” Jean-Baptiste said after the match. “After that, I tried to get the team back in the game.”

And Jean-Baptiste did just that by putting in a Jack Jewsbury free kick with a little help from a floundering Zac MacMath. Jean-Baptiste, who was drafted 10th overall by the Timbers in this season’s MLS draft, was only making the start after Hanyer Mosquera was unable to secure his International Transfer Certificate before the match.

After Jean-Baptiste goal, it was all Timbers. Boyd found the net 12 minutes after Jean-Baptiste’s goal, when Alhassan served up a beautiful cross to the Scotsman. All MacMath could do was watch as Boyd’s header went across his body and into the net.

Boyd’s goal gave the Timbers a quick return on their multi-million dollar investment. Coach John Spencer said postmatch that he hoped Boyd will be able to “build a house with his log slices” and Boyd will become a legend in Portland.

Alhassan’s first ever MLS goal sealed the win for Portland, as his cross found the inside of the net as a helpless MacMath could do nothing to stop the ball from going in. Alhassan had a second half to remember with a goal, an assist, and with multiple plays where he dribbled through the union defense.

While the Timbers played exceptional in the second 45, the first half saw few chances for either team. The best chance was an Eric Alexander chip that was deflected just wide by MacMath.

Portland started the match with numerous potential starters out due to injury or contract issues with Franck Songo’o, Futty Danso, Sal Zizzo, and Hanyer Mosquera all left out of the 18-man gameday roster.

My men of the match were Jean-Baptiste, who looked strong at the back despite his one mistake and Boyd, who showed Monday why he was brought to Portland.

Portland was 0-13-4 after conceding the first goal in a game last season. Jack Jewsbury’s two assists tie him for the league lead with Blas Perez of Dallas and Colorado’s Kosuke Kimura. Western Conference teams were 5-1 versus Eastern Conference teams during the first week of MLS play

The Timbers take on FC Dallas Saturday at Pizza Hut Park at 5:30 Pacific time. 

For coverage of every game, check out and

Don’t forget that OregonSports will be broadcasting its new web series, No Pity City, every Tuesday night at 8:30 P.M. live from the Bulldog Tavern.

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