Soccer….Family Style

Portland, Don’t Make Me Cut You
January 8, 2013, 9:16 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

I’ve been pretty clear that I’m only 100% confident when I’m chanting “US Til I Die.” I am pretty passionate about soccer in general, and I’ll stand with almost any supporters section, typically with me US Soccer buddies from around the USA. But, as previously reported, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the Portland Timbers for the past eight years, and purchased several Rose City Til I Die items without a hitch of hesitation. Timbers were the centerpiece of last Summer’s MLS Road Trip, and it makes me happy to think of Timbers Army and the friends we made there, as it made me happy to read Grant Wahl’s tweets about Portland perhaps getting to host a World Cup Qualifier next Summer.

Then I read Andrew Brawley’s Op Ed on Timber’s hosting, and I can honestly say that I’m disappointed for the first time by a Timbers Army experience. He whines about the recent USWNT games held in Portland as being over-run by pre-teen and teen girls, and complains about AO’s chants being stale, and implies that they are below the awesome that is Timbers Army. In addition, he feels that Timbers Army is only qualified to bring it to Timbers games, which was as close as he came to making sense and sounding informed.

First of all, for those of us who’ve experienced USWNT and USMNT games, I think we can say that the two don’t look at all alike. Are the USWNT games drawing better atmosphere at meteoric rates….yes, absolutely. But it’s not the same as a USMNT match, and a USMNT match isn’t the same as a USMNT qualifier. Many of us who travel and bring the noise (and the giant flag) to US Soccer have to pick and choose our games. I dream of the day I can make every men’s game and every women’s  game, but that’s just not practical, as I’m sure Andrew could understand, since he admits not even dropping the coin to see USWNT in his own back yard, a concept that’s insane to those of us for whom EVERY US Soccer and/or MLS game is a road game.

Second, nice to brag about being a “torch bearer among American Supporters groups,” but fold your hand before it’s been dealt in taking it to the next level of supporting American soccer. Does AO sing U-S-A more than I’d like? Yes. Is it a reasonable thing that happens in a new supporters group …particularly one that doesn’t play an annual regular season where we can meet up and practice an arsenal of song and chants? YES. I capo US Soccer games, and we sing a variety of songs and typically have new chants made up for that particular opponent. You might not hear them on the broadcast, but it’s there in the stadium. It makes me wonder if Andrew’s ever experienced a USMNT match in person? I certainly have, and I’ll say this about American Outlaws: we tifo stadiums, despite the fact that our members carry all that stuff in, paying airline check fees and not having the luxury of leaving it in a stadium storage locker. We sing songs and chants over multiple sections, with variety and unison that hasn’t happened before AO started. And we do it all without any local bar or HQ where we all get to meet up and organize week after week. Show some respect, son.

Third, I know you’re better than this Timbers Army. I blog as a soccer mama, so please picture my disapproving glare when I say “you’ve really disappointed me, I expect more from you.”  When I came in for Timbers vs Chivas, I had the good fortune to meet Phyllis Hayes, and not Andrew, who probably would have freaked out that my pre-teen daughter might ruin his night. Phyllis showed my kids how to do some Timbers traditions, and made us feel welcome by running to the office to copy off the song sheet as well as the sheet of songs that were new to the Army that night. I’ve SEEN YOU INTRODUCE NEW SONGS!! I know Timber’s are capable of hosting USMNT and maybe, just maybe, teaching American Outlaws a few things, but that won’t happen with an attitude expressed in Andrew Brawley’s Op Ed.

I hope Timber’s Army and Portland do get to host a USMNT World Cup Qualifier this year. It is a great town with a great soccer culture. And American Outlaws are better than you give them credit for, as we were fully capable of singing along with Sporting KC Fans, because you know what? We all DO love bar-be-que! I’m sure we would be just as accepting of what Portland has to offer, even if “we all don’t love locally sourced gluten free” isn’t quite as catchy…I’m sure you have something we can sing. As for the AO songs you clearly haven’t heard, don’t worry Andrew, my five year old will show you how it’s done.

6 Comments so far
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I think you may have missed the point in that to expect a TA experience at a USMNT match is a little naive.

And yet, even with the Timbers not on the field, the atmosphere will still be better than anywhere else.

Comment by Too $hort

I disagree. The atmosphere at Jeld-Wen is definitely tamer without the organization of capos across the North End. If you’ve been to Timbers friendlies, you know what I mean.

C’Mon Timbers Army. Don’t mail this one in.

Comment by Dr. Jon

Please do yourself a favor and re-read Brawley’s op-ed — beginning with the title.

It’s not about Timbers Army v American Outlaws – that’s missing the point. In fact, Brawley admits to being unfamiliar with how much of an AO presence there is in Portland.

I read his message as a warning that expectations should be held in check in terms of what the support might look like for a USMNT WCQ and who would be providing it.

While it’s likely that many TA members would wholeheartedly welcome a WCQ at Jeld-Wen, we would be part of a broader group with different demographics than a Timbers match. It’s not to say fewer people would attend or that the crowd would be quiet or less enthusiastic, it’s that one shouldn’t assume (which it seems that people are) it would be the Timbers Army *driving* that atmosphere or trying to force our club’s culture on USMNT fans.

There are many other things to consider as predictors of a successful WQC in Portland than the (seriously UNREAL) atmosphere in Jeld-Wen when we support PTFC.


Comment by kirsten klym (@klym)

Kirsten – I suggest you re-read Brawley’s polemic, it’s full of typical Timbers Army insider clique dismissiveness. He goes out of his way to belittle the American Outlaws Portland (which by the way is overwhelmingly composed of TImbers Army members, just not the right kind). Here’s one example of what I speak:
“I’m sure (American Outlaws) exist around here in some capacity, but this being the wacky counter-culture land known as Portlandia, I’d be surprised to discover it’s more than a couple dudes out in Gresham.”

The holier than thou Timbers Army attitude is a barrier to the “atmosphere” being “better than anywhere else”. I’m confident we’ll pull it off but it’s disappointing that it may be despite key sections of Timbers Army leadership than with them.

Comment by Ranch Boy

I’m sorry your feelers were hurt but you’re still missing the point.

Comment by kirsten klym (@klym)

I dont know why we should temper our expectations at all and I certainly cant think of another venue where we would even be having this conversation, esp from “Soccer City USA.” As a Portlander, I’m a little embarrassed that I have to come on and defend our city. There are enough of us out there who don’t support soccer just to be ironic that will come out and cheer just as passionately for the Nats as PTFC and enough travelling support to fill in the blanks.

Comment by Brian Taylor (@BeeRyeTaylor)

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