With the Timbers 2013 regular season schedule being released recently, finding out when the home games are is interesting, but it’s even better to figure out if you’ll be able to make travel plans and still see the Timbers play. I’ve been fortunate to have been able to watch the Timbers lose (or get a plucky draw) at a number of different MLS stadiums now (and let’s be honest, “fortunate” implies I haven’t been able to make most home games, so I use that term loosely).
Based on my travel experiences, here’s my ranking of the 17 away games for the 2013 season. I’ve used the totally subjective ranking of “if I could only go to X number of away games this season, which ones would I go to?”, but even though it’s subjective, I’ve tried to take into account: quality of opponent/importance of game; the quality (or perceived quality) of the stadium experience; the city; the day of the week; and what other away games the game falls around. I have not taken into account which stadiums I’ve already attended (which would change the list), but I have taken into account the gameday experiences at those stadiums I have attended.
Without further ado, let’s Bleacher Report:
1. Sat. April 27 – at Kansas City If you get to do one non-Cascadia away trip this season, make it KC. Their stadium still has a bit of sparkle and is an impressive place to watch a football match. There’s even a full bar adjacent to the supporters’ section! Add barbeque, jazz museums and Nebraska Furniture Marts to the agenda and this could be a fun weekend.
2. Sat. May 25 – at D.C. United This could be your last chance to see the Timbers play in an original MLS stadium. The game will have a hard time living up to 2011′s aggressively entertaining attack-fest, but the District Ultras tifo alone may be worth the price of admission. The atmosphere is always good, the tailgating is well-known throughout the league and Senator Merkley may even show up again.
3. Sat. March 16 – at Seattle Might as well kick off the traveling season with a game at our closest rivals. While the Timbers have to make two trips up to Cascadia’s lesser metropolitan area, the first Cascadia Cup game of the year should be a good time.
4. Sun. Oct. 6 – at Vancouver This game could fall down the rankings a bit depending on how the Timbers are doing in the Cascadia Cup, and also depending on the time of the game – an evening game may make it harder to get home before the work week starts. Other than that, this is the last Cascadia Cup away match of the season at our B.C. “house”, which makes it potentially critically important.
5. Sat. May 18 – at Vancouver Both Vancouvers are listed next to each other because there’s not much between the two – this is the first trip up there, and it’s May in Vancouver, and it’s on a Saturday, which could make it easier for you to get to Canada and eat as much poutine as you can physically handle. This game is better logistically than the October Vancouver game, but I’ve ranked it behind just because I believe the Cascadia Cup ramifications are more dramatic in October. This is the Timbers’ second Cascadia Cup match of the season.
6. Sun. July 7 – at Columbus The United States’ “original” soccer specific stadium is already starting to show its age just a little bit, and it can’t quite match up to some of the new stadiums in the league. Still, I think it still seems to be a good place to watch a game, even if the atmosphere has been hit or miss in Ohio recently, and the Crew have a chance to be better this year. On the plus side, the game is in July which means a good chance of a thunderstorm!
7. Sun. Aug. 25 – at Seattle Our second trip to the clink, this game is going to be vital towards determining the winner of the Cascadia Cup and is nicely at the end of the summer after a three-game homestand which includes Vancouver. The 7pm Sunday start means you’ll get home late, but other than that, a date you really should circle on your calendar.
8. Sat. March 30 – at Colorado Colorado in March again! The weather could be terrible, but the game’s at 3:00 and the Rapids supporters have been truly hospitable in the past. If the Timbers start fast out of the blocks, this could also be a chance to see a rare road win outside of British Columbia.
9. Sat. June 8 – at Chicago This game has been getting a lot of talk, but honestly doesn’t excite me that much. Despite the fact the MLS Timbers have never lost in Toyota Park, the stadium is of the generic-new variety in the style of Dick’s or PPL. On the upside, when the game ends, you’re in Chicago. Still, from a pure soccer-watching perspective, there are better options this year.
10. Sat. July 27 – at San Jose Your last chance to see the Timbers play at the intimate Buck Shaw, which also means it’s possibly your last chance to nearly destroy their bleacher seats. With two chances to hit up the Bay Area this year, this is the one to go to, especially if you’re thinking of doing both San Jose and Kansas City.
11. Sat. October 26 – at Chivas USA It’s the last game of the season, which actually could be meaningful with Porter at the helm, and gives you an excuse to get to southern California as the clouds set in for the winter. This may be your best opportunity to visit the Home Depot Center this season – and the Chivas fans are said to be a lot of fun.
12. Fri. August 30 – at Real Salt Lake This game comes shortly after the last away game against the Flounders and is on a Friday – but it’s your only chance to see the Timbers play a regular season game at the lovely Rio Tinto.
13. Sat. July 20 – at Philadelphia Some of the Union supporters are class, but the supporters’ section is far away from the field. The stadium is nice because it’s new, but it kind of feels like you’re watching a game in a generic FIFA stadium. It’s also in a terrible part of town, which overall makes for a strange away day experience. I would go if your mother lives in Philly, and you’d like to have something to tie your visit home in with.
14. Wed. May 8 – at FC Dallas Having talked with their ticket reps, Dallas are doing their best to make themselves into an interesting place to watch a soccer game. The problem is, the Timbers played there twice last year, and the Wednesday date May (pun intended) only bring out the Texan members of the Army.
15. Sat. September 14 – at Chivas USA We play Chivas USA twice on the road this season. Though it’s on a Saturday, this is the less interesting game in my opinion. It could be one of the last nice summer weekends in Oregon in 2013, Chivas isn’t expected to be much good, and there are other opportunities to make the Home Depot Center this season. Still, the weekend date makes it easier to make it to than the Galaxy game.
16. Wed. June 19 – at Los Angeles So the Timbers get the defending MLS Champions on a weekday in between two weekend home games. The Galaxy should be good even if it’s a rebuilding year, but if you really like to watch the Timbers play the Galaxy in Los Angeles, the schedule makers didn’t do you any favors.
17. Sun. April 21 – at San Jose If you’re going to make it to the Bay Area this season, this Sunday game against the Earthquakes doesn’t really fit into the schedule well – the Timbers play them at home a week before, so there’s no novelty factor, the game is on a Sunday, and Kansas City is the next weekend.
Hope to see everyone out at an away match this season!