The Timbers Army is on the move.
An estimated 600 to 700 Timbers Army fans are expected to make the trip north on Interstate 5 to Seattle for one of the biggest games on the MLS calendar: Seattle vs. Portland on Saturday (11 pm ET, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes).
The longtime rivals will meet for the 75th time, but it is a historic first meeting in the MLS regular season. Portland’s vocal supporters group will be dwarfed by 36,000 Seattle fans at Qwest Field, but for those making the trip, it’s an experience they wouldn’t miss. Seattle elected not to open new seating areas in order to ensure that the Sounders maintain their home-field advantage.
The 107 Independent Supporters Trust, the non-profit booster group behind the Timbers Army, will be running busloads of fans north for the first Cascadia Cup game of the year, but the vast majority of Portland fans will settle for the telecast.
The Bagdad Theater on SE Hawthorne Boulevard will host one of the largest public viewing audiences in the city. Additionally, there will be an official viewing party at the Thirsty Lion on SW 2nd Avenue.
The widespread availability of the game at pubs throughout Portland is indicative of a new wave of soccer interest sweeping the city.
“One of the things that made the early Timbers Army so tight-knit was the fact that neighborhood bars didn’t show soccer games,” Dave Hoyt, president of the 107ist, told MLSsoccer.com. “If you showed up en masse and if you got a good bartender and made arrangements before hand, you could get one screen in one pub. It forced a sense of unity that may not have existed otherwise.”
Portland’s entrance into MLS has changed the sports landscape in the city. With the NBA’s Trail Blazers done for the year season, interest in the Timbers is soaring.
“The thought of walking into virtually any pub in Portland to see Seattle-Portland on Saturday is an extremely gratifying thought,” Hoyt said. “Not even because of the viewing audience as much as the fact that soccer is becoming just another sport with no special arrangements or negotiations needed to enjoy the match.”
Rose City Red: The Timbers will debut their secondary kits on Saturday at Qwest Field as a way to signify the importance of the game against Sounders FC. The “Rose City” jersey features a split design of two shades of red, separated by “rose” thorns repeated down the middle and Alaska Airlines script across the chest. Highlights of the jersey include “Rose City” verbiage on the back of the neck and the Rose City logo prominently displayed opposite the team’s primary crest on the front of the jersey.
Baggies coming to Portland: The Timbers announced Tuesday that English Premier League team West Bromwich Albion will be the opponent in an international friendly exhibition at JELD-WEN Field on July 20.
Season-ticket holders and corporate partners will have an exclusive pre-sale period from Wednesday, May 11, at 10 am through Sunday, May 15, at 5 pm to purchase additional tickets. Single-game tickets, starting at $9, go on sale to the public Monday, May 16, at 10 am through the JELD-WEN Field box office, area Ticketmaster locations, online at ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
Founded in 1878, West Bromwich Albion were one of the original members of the Football League and has spent most of its existence competing in England’s top flight. They have competed in the Premier League in five of the last nine seasons, making their league debut in 2002. Known as “The Baggies,” West Brom is a five-time winner of the prestigious FA Cup.