The Portland Timbers wrap up a regular season like no other

Somewhere between Ryan Pore’s game-winning goal for a 10-man Timbers squad against Vancouver in April and Kalif Alhassan’s equalizer in Vancouver on Saturday, I fell in love with this season’s Portland Timbers.

The year 2010 has been looked at as both an end of an era and a bridge to the future to the MLS arriving in 2011. But to me, the 2010 Timbers are exactly that, the 2010 Timbers. It is a disservice to the current roster to think of this season as an afterthought on the run to greener pastures.

This year’s Timbers team has literally everything you could ask from a team.

Nothing was handed to the squad this year. Playing in front of some of the largest home crowds in the history of its league, the Timbers had a clear bullseye on their collective backs when other teams came to town.

Heading into the June 19th match with Minnesota, the Timbers hadn’t won a league game in their last 8 regular season contests. Since then, Portland has reeled off a stretch of 10 wins, six draws, and two defeats.

The Timbers have resurrected the season with outstanding defense led by Gambian international Mamadou “Futty” Danso and goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who is in the top two of every major goalkeeping statistic in the league.

But the wins and losses aren’t the reason that this team resonates with me unlike any other. It is the fact that the players have embraced the city, the fan, and what it means to be a Portland Timber.

Portland has been called “Soccer City, USA” for longer than the players on this year’s team have been alive. Soccer is not a fad in Portland and I’m sure most of the team has realized it throughout the course of the season.

Maybe they realized it when 15,000-plus people showed up for the season opener on April 17 or when the team was serenaded with sunflowers during the home finale against Puerto Rico.

Or maybe it wasn’t until two hours after their match had ended Saturday in Vancouver, when they arrived at the US border crossing to find 30 or so Timbers fans that had taken a bus provided by the front office. After going through security, the Timbers were greeted by a makeshift human tunnel of fans, who just couldn’t get enough of their team.

As Gavin Wilkinson went around the tunnel, a giant smile appeared on his face. Wilkinson has been a great coach for this version of the Timbers and he has always been a great link to the fans.

The smile on his face is similar to the one I had on my face as I sat on the fan bus for the six hour drive from Canada. It was then I realized how much this team had meant to me as a fan this year. It was worth of all the money I had spent of tickets, beer, food, scarfs, and shirts this year. In fact, no amount of money would equal the affection I have for this team.

The founder of Deadspin.com Will Leitch once said, "I was foolish to think anything as peripheral as money could ruin something as pure, visceral and cleansing as sports." This year’s Timbers squad is the essence of what is good about sports. A group of men playing for each other, for their fans, for their city.

It is fitting that the captain of the 2010 Portland Timbers has the name of Joy. Because that perfectly describes what this season was. A Joy. 

Comments

Awesome Article!

I was happy to be part of that tunnel for the team. They played a great match, as they have all year long. Thank you to the 2010 Portland Timbers.

Comments