Through the good graces of a friend in a high place, we found the entire family at the Timbers game yesterday. We decided to drive the car to a place on the east side where we could pick up a bus direct to the stadium, and that turned out to be a good move; although it set us back $16.60 for the day, the bus dropped us off and picked us a half-block from the field, and a block from our car on the other end.
It was a gorgeous day, with bright sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. Portland was hosting its rivals from the north, the Seattle Sounders, and national
cable network TV was there to beam the video to the couple hundred thousand viewers who wanted to watch it at home. Every seat in the house was taken.
The action on the pitch was spirited, although marred by what seemed like a lot of dirty play. The first half saw no scoring by either side. That made three straight halves of Timbers action that we'd attended with not a goal to be seen.
In the second half, things got more interesting. The Timbers goalie was knocked out cold in a collision with a Seattle player:
Surprisingly, he got back up and stayed in the game for about a minute, but then he withdrew, apparently because he had injured his hand or wrist in the collision. Seconds later, his replacement gave up a goal on the very first shot he encountered, and Seattle was ahead.
Later in the half, though, the Timbers made a couple of good rushes at the goal, and one of their shots actually went in, which seemed miraculous:
Later on, one of the Portland players went out of the game with an injury, and his team had no more substitutions left, and so they had to play, as the soccer player in our household explained to us, a man down. At that point, it seemed as though Portland was playing not to lose rather than to win, and on that note, the match ended in a tie.
We had fine seats, which allowed great views of the action, the only problem being that we were surrounded by folks who wished they were in the Timbers Army. They stood up the entire afternoon, which meant that we had to, too, if we wanted to see anything. Here's the view sitting down:
It was not that way throughout the stadium, but it definitely was in our location. Given that the beautiful game is sometimes as exciting as watching paint dry, it's ironic that in this sport and this sport alone, fans are allowed to stand up throughout the contest when the people behind them would like to sit down for a spell and savor their $8 beer.
Anyway, it was a wonderful afternoon, and our crew enjoyed it immensely. During the slow moments, we got a chance to reflect a little bit on the nature of sports, and the character of Portland, and of our country. We enjoy watching soccer, which we vaguely understand, but we'll never get what the Timbers Army scene is all about. Thousands of beer-soaked, lily white people, mostly 20-somethings, waving large flags and singing inane song parodies at the top of their lungs, nonstop, for the entire afternoon. Lots of F-words in the lyrics, chanted with great gusto. It's just not our cup of tea, and never will be. To us, it's dark.
But then we thought, everything's pretty much that way for us in Portland any more. These same people will be voting for Jefferson Smith, who is one of them, and for Earl Blumenauer, an older version of themselves who never grew up. They're determined to be different, to be weird, to fit in by not fitting in. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They're following voices that they haven't listened to with a critical ear. Or maybe they chant ever louder to try to drown out the hard times they're in, and the harder times that are likely coming. Sometimes there's a hint of desperation behind all the green smoke.
Oh well, the beer was cold, the sun was warm, the cotton candy was sweet, and the Timbers managed a draw. For us, it was a great family day.