Match report: Timbers 0, Crew 0, paint almost dry
It wasn't our idea, but the Mrs. and the kids were going to the Timbers game, and they had a ticket for us, and so away we all went. Our daughter who plays the beautiful game was part of the pre-game ceremony, in which local kids get to escort the players out onto the field. That in itself was a lot of fun. So was hanging out together as a family, along with many friends, for the game. Alas, nothing much happened on the field, or the pitch, or whatever the heck they call it. But it was still a thumbs-up night.
Our journey to Jelled-When? Field began well in advance of kickoff time, and it's a good thing, as there was a hefty crowd. We went in a car -- yes, a private passenger automobile, despite all the intense pressure from the City of Portland to get there some other way. We dropped off our party a half-block from the field and went hunting for a legal parking space -- any parking space, at any price. After some cruising, we found a free one on the street, 11 blocks from the stadium. It was a nice night for a walk. Score one for the grouchy old guys.
We would not have dared to leave our car on the street any closer to the stadium, where parking was limited to an hour, or 90 minutes without a resident permit, or two hours. The Portland parking enforcement pests were out in full force, on their sickly little scooters with their yellow lights blinking. They were ready to raise some revenue from the unsuspecting.
Once we got inside the stadium, it was slow going to our seat, as the main concourse is woefully narrow for the number of fans that the place holds. Matters were not helped by the tables that were set up along the perimeter to hawk worthless goods, like subscriptions to the Oregonian. Memo to Little Lord Paulson: Move that junk out of the way and let the people get to their seats.
We tried really hard not to think about it, but we couldn't help but do the math in our head as we crept along. Let's see, the city's taxpayers have thrown about $45 million into this building over the past decade or so. That's about $75 or $80 per resident, not including interest. And after all that, the older section is still an uncomfortably tight little place.
Once we reached our assigned location, things mellowed out quite a bit. We were close to the concessions, the vendors came around frequently (cotton candy $5; bottled water $3.75), and the restrooms, though tiny, didn't seem to back up much. Although we were not in the luxury seats that we had for the U.S. women's team a while back, we were still quite comfortable.
We beamed with pride at our girl when she appeared in the pregame walk-on, and we applauded the young gal who belted out the national anthem -- she nailed it. Then the soccer began, and it slowly went downhill from there.
For the first 20 minutes or so, the social misfits in the Timbers Army bellowed out songs or chants or something, at the top of their lungs. It was loud, unintelligible, and annoying -- a veritable Losers Tabernacle Choir. Eventually they got tired and simmered down considerably, which was a relief. Timber Joey came around the stands and revved up his chainsaw, which seemed a little hazardous, but he got a lot of high fives from the faithful.
The action on the field was spirited, at least for most of the first half, but neither team looked too good. The Timbers took a lot more shots than their opponents, the Columbus Crew, managed. But only a few shots by either team were great. And none of them went in.
We tried as hard as we could to stay focused on the play on the field, but after about 40 minutes of uneventful back and forth, our mind started drifting. We started missing baseball. No score halfway through a baseball game? Well, that's what they call a "pitchers' duel." Meanwhile, we weren't sure what this was that we were watching.
By 70 minutes of scoreless action, the cliches about the boredom of soccer matches were beginning to ring true. And when the match was over, and we inched our way out of the packed, cramped building, we were left to wonder why so much ado had been made about nothing. "Nil nil," indeed.
As we understand it, Columbus is an inferior team, and Portland's failure to win didn't do anything to help the Timbers coach, whose job may be on the line. But to the people in the stands, we doubt that it matters much. They mostly seemed happy to be there, to be Portland, to be Euro, to be weird. There will always be a following for soccer in this town. But we still honestly wonder how long the league can possibly last.
On the way home, we got to see the super moon, rising in the southeast. And we had shared an evening as a family, with good friends. We'll never get what the fuss is about the Timbers, but life is good anyway.