Some came by bus or car, some came by an Odyssean combination of multiple flights—and some came from within Columbus city limits.
But whatever the byzantine travel involved, Portland’s Timbers Army showed out for Sunday’s MLS Cup final, with beloved mascot Timber Joey.
About an hour before kickoff, Timbers club staff estimated some 2,000 Timbers supporters had already turned up to MAPFRE Stadium—the club’s biggest away day ever, some said. More than 900 packed into a dedicated away support section, conveniently facing directly across from Columbus Crew SC’s own home support section, the Nordecke.
Between chants in English and in Spanish, the fans cheered for Jumbotron highlights reels of top 2015 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs moments. (No surprise that anything from fan darling Nat Borchers, along with Lucas Melano’s shimmy shake goal vs. FC Dallas, got the loudest screams.)
The impressive away support came as no surprise, given it’s the team’s first MLS Cup outing. “We don’t know when we’re gonna be back,” said Portland resident and longtime fan Dawn Bauman, who decided to travel late Wednesday night.
“I wasn’t going to come because I was done with traveling, so I said to my spouse, ‘I think I’m being dumb,’ and they said, ‘Well, yeah,’” she recalled. She booked tickets that night—flying from Portland to Seattle, then on to Philadelphia, and finally to Columbus for the experience.
If the mood was festive and loud, it was also markedly polite, perhaps not surprising, given the two cities involved. This away stand was not where you would hear any vitriolic banter.
“This is our house, and it’s named MAPFRE,” declared a fan who wanted to be known as David “El Rojo,” a Portland-to-Brooklyn transplant who also decided, last-minute, to fly in late Saturday night. But that remark was about as playfully teasing as it got.
“Columbus has been a great host,” he continued. “They’re cool—I feel like we have a lot in common.”
Next to him, new friend Nick Marks—a recent Portland-to-Columbus transplant who had come to the game alone—echoed these good-vibe sentiments. “The Crew are a good team to watch. Portland Timbers fans are obviously better, but the Crew is getting there.”
Here’s how easy-going the vibes were: David “El Rojo” said that when he and his friends arrived at the stadium in full Timbers gear, a group of Columbus fans thanked them for coming.
Even mascot Timber Joey seemed nonplussed about showing up without his signature chainsaw and log, both of which were not allowed on the grounds, ostensibly due to safety reasons. “We don’t wanna take away from their home-field advantage, he said.
On the occasion of a Portland goal, his plan was to celebrate without any power tools. “I’m just gonna cheer loud and celebrate,” he said. “My predecessor, Timber Jim, is also over there in the stands, so I’ll definitely be running over to him.”