My complex internal battle of homegrown Washington loyalty and current Oregon residence culminated today: I attended my first Portland Timbers soccer game. The opponent? The Seattle Sounders, of course.
Not only was this my first Timbers game, this was my first Sounders game since they joined Major League Soccer in 2007. When I left Seattle for college, the Sounders were on par with the Thunderbirds as the least popular sports team in the city. Perhaps the Sonics departure to Oklahoma City after the 2007-2008 season left Seattle-sports fans with an itch that needed to be scratched–perfect timing for the Sounders to flourish.
I conveniently volunteered myself to attend the Timbers vs. Sounders game for free when a friend won tickets and couldn’t go. I didn’t know, however, that this game would only fuel my inner turmoil.
Heading back from a weekend in Washington, I negotiated Sunday afternoon I-5 slowdowns and managed to rendezvous with fellow sports fan, Kevin. I strategically chose a green t-shirt to wear, a shade of green that neither matched the Timbers or Sounders jerseys, but left me, and others, questioning exactly whose side I was on.
I have approximately one friend in Seattle who passionately cares about the Sounders so I sent him the following photo with no previous explanation of my whereabouts saying only, “So conflicted about who to cheer for.”
“One woman. Two nations,” was his rather witty reply.
At this point in the game, the Timbers Army (left side of photo, approximately two and half times the size of “the Kennel” for all your Zags fans out there) had performed many of their pre-arranged cheers, but not without a solid counter-effort by drunk Sounders fans occupying the section to our right.
Though it will be a while before I’m cheering along with the “Army,” chants of “P-T” *clap-clap* “F-C” *clap clap* stirred my enthusiasm to offer a few yells of encouragement for the Timbers.
“We’ve made a Timbers fan out of you!” Kevin proclaim, to which I could only respond that one must adapt to their surroundings–It was survival of the fittest, after all.
With the Timbers up 2-0 at the half, I admitted that my indecision was causing me to be a fair-weather fan.
Call it indecision. Call it adaptation. Either way, the Timbers won 2-1 after a few testosterone-induced squabbles in the 90th minute.
No taunts were thrown my way as we exited the stadium, but the victory wasn’t quite as sweet either with my lukewarm commitment. I am, however, one step further along in my Portland initiation process (no telling what else might be on the list–a forearm tattoo of a bird in a tree? or inked ivy winding up my leg? Unlikely.) And there are certainly worse ways to spend a sunny summer Sunday afternoon than with a local micro-brew in hand and rival teams battling to the finish!