PORTLAND, Ore. – It all comes down to this for the Portland Timbers.
And the members of the club’s passionately loyal support, the Timbers Army, are responding accordingly. The Army is sending 18 tour buses packed full of 1,500 rowdy fans desperate to raise the Cascadia Cup after the Timbers meet the Seattle Sounders on Sunday at CenturyLink Field (9 pm ET, ESPN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com).
“It’s a lot of people, man,” said Garrett Dittfurth, a Timbers Army 107ist board member and one of the travel organizers. “It’s been a pretty big thing getting everybody organized and making sure this thing comes off.”
The traveling band of Timbers supporters is triple what they sent to Seattle last year for the first MLS meeting between the Timbers and the Sounders and one of the largest traveling contingents in MLS history, Dittfurth said. They’ll be a part of what is expected to be one of the largest crowds ever to view an MLS match, expected to exceed 67,000 people.
It’s all despite the fact that Portland sit near the bottom of the Western Conference standings and only have the three-team Cascadia Cup derby to play for. Portland can take the Cup with a win or draw.
“Seattle is always a blur afterwards,” 107ist board member Joanne Couchman said. “It goes so fast, and there’s so much going on.”
What won’t change this year will be the atmosphere present on the trip.
The tour bases, of course, will each be equipped with a keg of beer, the bus named according to the brewery that provided the keg. Dittfurth said it’s a jovial atmosphere with people bringing their own special beverage concoctions and game-day fare.
“It’s a good party-like atmosphere,” Dittfurth said. “We’re all having a good time. It’s really communal. … You can be on this bus with totally perfect strangers and someone is offering you some type of hooch that they brewed up at home. It’s a lot of fun.”
The buses will depart Portland around mid-day and dock in Seattle at a parking lot south of the stadium. There, all the other supporters who traveled on their own or who live in Seattle will gather to parade into the stadium for the game. Dittfurth said outside of the 1,500 tickets that were allotted to the Timbers Army, he’s expecting up to 2,000 more Timbers fans to be dispersed throughout the stadium.
And everybody is expecting to celebrate a Cascadia Cup championship after it’s all said and done.
“It would be huge,” Dittfurth said. “We’ve got nothing else to play for right now, everybody is kind of aware of that. It would be sweet to get it all in Seattle. Having their guys walk it over to us and to celebrate it in their stadium would be awesome.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.