Timbers Fans' Hopes for MLS 2011
Of those gathered for the unveiling of the new kit in an airplane hangar at Portland International Airport last Thursday, Timbers season ticket holders and staff of the shirt sponsor, Alaska Airlines, made up the bulk of the guest list. With the free beer and gourmet food there was a party atmosphere, which kicked into gear as the deafening Last Regiment of Syncopated Drummers struck up and a Boeing 737-700 nosed into the space.
We caught the mood of a few of those who turned out on the wettest day of the year to celebrate one more step on the Timbers’ road to Major League Soccer.
Joey Beaudreax, 26, is a former political campaign worker who came because he was really excited to see the kits. He’s a season ticket holder for 2011 who went to his first Timbers games this summer. He stood in the Timbers Army section.
“I’ve been a Timbers fan abroad for a while. I was living in Europe and followed European soccer and the Timbers, but I didn’t follow MLS until this summer.
“I’m excited about the quality MLS has created, I think some of the games are as exciting as the Premier League.” Beaudreaux doesn’t follow any other sports. His expectations for the season are simple.
“I would hope we get to the playoffs, but seeing some really exciting soccer is the most important thing.”
His friend Tim Aguirre also lives downtown, and also got into the Timbers in their final season in the lower division. He works at IKEA.
“A bunch of my co-workers were season ticket holders so I started going along with them. Usually we get together at a bar before the game and head over as a group. If it’s a win, we might go afterward to the Bitter End.”
They sit in 104.
“I’m excited about the new stadium, to be closer, and to have more fans coming. I like the crowd and the excitement.”
Sherri Harbour doesn’t work for Alaska Airlines, but many of her friends do. And she’s from Alaska. Harbour has been going to many games a season for five years, but not as a season ticket holder.
“We’re great Timbers fans, we’re big soccer fans. We went in 107 for years and brought the kids. We used to love taking our daughter down and getting her ball autographed, it’s awesome.”
She’s most excited about seeing new fans show up.
“Seeing an increase in fans, that would be awesome. We always look at the attendance number on the screen.”
With her was Peter de Voss, originally from Rotterdam in Holland and a Feyenoord fan.
“I’m just happy that the Timbers are in MLS. It’s great that soccer is getting a little bit better in Portland. As for the season, I don’t want to have my hopes up too high, it’s only disappointment,” he says with a smile.
He says the razzmatazz around the jersey unveiling would be normal in the Netherlands.
“You know how big it is in Holland. I never understood why soccer wasn’t the thing here, I used to think, like, ‘What’s wrong with these people?’”
Alaska Airlines pilot Captain Scott Day is frank about how much he knows about soccer.
“Not that much!” he answers. Capt. Day lives in Seattle but is based in Portland so he has already been to a few Timbers games.
“I think the stadium where it’s located, and the fans, are great. It’s a pretty special organization, it seems like it’s home-grown.”
There’s a buzz building in his workplace. “Internally we advertised it a lot. This is a big deal for Alaska Airlines, we’re normally very conservative in advertising.”
He enjoys college basketball and pro and college baseball. “My friends will be interested in what’s happening here. A lot of my friends are Sounders fans—I can hold my own against them. With Vancouver, it’s going to be a cool three-team rivalry.”
Alaska Airlines flight attendant Kelly Leichner volunteered to help coral the fans as they arrived at the hangar, making good use of her announcer voice.
“It’s just fun to join in and be part of it. I’ve been to basketball and football games, but never to a professional soccer game, so I’m pretty excited.”
Diehard Timbers fan Keri Kuper, her husband and their eight-year-old daughter have been going to the Timbers for four years.
“My daughter goes with her three little friends, they all play soccer together and they love to go to Timbers games. They’re the little rug rats who lean over onto the dugout, they know the players’ names.”
Kuper played soccer as a kid and got back into it when her daughter showed an interest. She does not follow other sports.
“I love soccer, the Timbers are our home team, and the fans generate so much excitement.”