Op-Ed: Honestly, will Portland truly offer the best home-field advantage for World Cup qualifier matches?

In short, yes. I think so. But allow me to place this asterisk right here.

*

That asterisk represents a series of caveats, “yeah, but…’s,” and a few other items that need to be considered.

In case you’ve been living under a rock, the Timbers Army has become the torch-bearer among American supporters groups. We worked hard for it. We love being in that position. We will do everything humanly possible to maintain that position.

However, the TA doesn’t rent itself out for children’s birthday parties, sporting goods megastore openings, James Beard cooking events, etc. Nor should it. The TA exists to support the Timbers and its surrounding communities.

So what is expected if a WCQ match is held at JELD-WEN Field this summer? Does everyone expect a Timbers Army appearance? I surely hope not. It’s not a Timbers match. It’s a US Men’s National Team match. It wouldn’t make much sense to be chanting about “the boys in green” and setting Seattle ablaze without the Timbers out there in front of us. (OK, maybe the part about Seattle could still apply…I’ll get back to you on that.) Call me crazy, but I think forcing a bunch of TA chants to encourage our national team on the pitch is rather lame.

JWF has hosted a couple US Women’s National Team friendlies over the last couple years. I attended the match vs. Canada in September, 2011. Do you know who was in the North End? Quite a few TA folks, who were very heavily outnumbered by girls ages 8-to-17. It was a completely different atmosphere in the North End, and throughout the entire stadium. And you know what? It should have been that way. Even the most grizzled, aggro members of the TA weren’t about to push these girls out of the way just so we could sling out a few TA chants. We all stood toward the top of the 200’s and witnessed the scene. Sure, it was a bit weird, but we understood our place and accepted it.

(No, I did not attend the recent USWNT match vs. Ireland because my bank loan application for tickets wasn’t approved…but the same scenario applies.)

This issue came up yesterday during the TA Annual General Meeting, where a 107ist member asked about how the TA might support the upcoming Thorns FC season. 107ist President Scott Swearingen responded by saying [I’m paraphrasing here] that like the origination of the TA, any organized support for that team should form organically, and not via forced means courtesy of the 107ist. However, the 107ist would absolutely be open to helping out any organically developed support efforts in the future.

I don’t think Mr. Swearingen could have responded any better. I would much rather see an original concept of a Thorns supporter group, rather than a copycat of the TA. Simply swapping out the word “Timbers” for “Thorns” is not only syllabically incorrect, it’s beneath us. Even though many members of the TA will concurrently support the Thorns, I don’t think I’m alone in thinking the Thorns club deserves better than that.

Which bring me back to the WCQ’s. The TA-fueled atmosphere doesn’t apply for anything outside of Timbers matches. What does apply? Why, that would be the atmosphere provided by the American Outlaws, of course! U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

At the risk of sounding like a communist, I will openly declare that I’m not the biggest fan of AO. I find their schtick repetitive and stale. I find this U-S-A chant particularly annoying. The whole organization could use some new blood at the national level, in my opinion. Plus, I’m not aware of any significant AO presence within Portland. They list the Thirsty Lion as the official local chapter bar, so they got that going for ‘em. I’m sure they 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. We’re not anti-America here in Portland, but we’re certainly pro-Cascadia around these parts, and we’re known for doing things a little differently. If it’s going to be the same AO-led effort here in Portland, color me not-too-stoked.

So what will we get if we find a WCQ match in Portland this summer? A large TA contingent will be there, but not in organized fashion with our arsenal of chants. There’s a decent chance that someone from AO will show up, but how does that group organize a North End without any major presence already in existence in this city?

I have zero doubt the stadium would sell out (barring any exorbitant cash-grab tactics like we saw with the recent USWNT friendly). I don’t doubt the crowd would be loud and supportive of the US team. However, if the expectation is for the atmosphere to be an exact replica of a Timbers match, without any actual effort put in place beyond just the TA, perhaps we should discuss lowering our expectations a bit.

PS – none of this matters anyway. Since JWF has turf, and not grass, seeing a WCQ in Portland anytime soon is unlikely. Anyone with a lawn to maintain around here knows why turf is preferred. Nuff said.

 

This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the 107ist or the TA.

This entry was posted in TA Blogs, Timbers Army and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to Op-Ed: Honestly, will Portland truly offer the best home-field advantage for World Cup qualifier matches?

  1. AFAIK the AOPDX chapter leadership is comprised of a large contingent of my ballistic homies in 103. Not that that info changes the validity of your piece, but the more you know etc etc

    • jorge says:

      This is not directed at you Jamie.
      I thougt the culture of portland was cool until reading the comments and this piece.

      Suport your country and club with the same passion. I know you timbers supporters are a big organized group. But you should learn from places like kansas city were they support club and country ..

  2. Chris Singer says:

    Well said Andrew! I also thought Scott’s response yesterday regarding Thorns FC support was excellent.

    I also am not overly impressed with AO, though my issue isn’t really with chants (although they can feel free to drop YSA at any time!), but rather with their mission statement which says they support U.S National Team Soccer but really seems to mean they primarily support the USMNT. Though that’s only my impression, I’m happy to be proven wrong if that isn’t truly the case.

  3. Thunderbear says:

    Then there’s the whole problem with the American Outlaws doing YSA and then those racist chants they do…

    http://www.theamericanoutlaws.com/events/chants

    “Stolen Sombrero (Mexico)
    Aye, yi, yi, yi,
    Oh my sombrero
    Some no good Pat,
    Has stolen my hat,
    And now I have nothing to wear-o!
    Tijuana Whore (Mexico)
    (tune of Yellow Submarine)
    You go down like a Tijuana whore,
    A Tijuana whore,
    A Tijuana whore,
    You go down like a Tijuana whore,
    A Tijuana whore,
    A Tijuana whore
    Two-Nil (Mexico)
    Two-nil,
    Two-nil,
    We always win two-nil!
    We always win two-nil!”

    • Thunderbear says:

      Woops…copied too many chants onto that. The Sombrero chant is the one I’m referring to as particular offensive.

      • Mike Coleman says:

        They are both racist chants and should be beneath and self respecting supporter

        (imho)

        • paul says:

          since when was mexican a race? i don’t get how that’s racist

          • MetroMort says:

            Mexico is as much of a race as Portland is. I would bet large sums of money that if Seattle has a thriving “red light district,” Timbers fans would sing about it. Despite what you think, Mexico has white and black people as much as Portland has indigenous people.

          • Tanya says:

            You’ve got the sombrero lyrics wrong, but more importantly, having sung that song myself, on the way into Azteca, I can say it got more laughs from Mexican fans than much of the filth they shout back at us (or don’t you speak Spanish?) Tijuana Whore is sung for dives, and while inappropriate, it’s hardly racist. YSA is grounds for ejection from AO National, and we’ve worked very hard to root out “Mow my lawn” type stuff that pre-dates AO. And 2-nil or dos a cero are about the initial score when we defeated Mexico at Crew Stadium. I was there, that’s where it started. How is that racist?

          • Thunderbear says:

            @Tanya

            I took the lyrics directly off the AO website. I even linked to it.

    • Same Chants Anyway says:

      Wow – I had no idea how many of the TA chants were just reworded USMNT chants. Had just never really looked before. Thanks for posting the link – enlightening.

  4. Holly Duthie says:

    I agree pretty much word for word.

  5. Josh Kirby says:

    “The TA-fueled atmosphere doesn’t apply for anything outside of Timbers matches” is a poor attitude and contributes to the notion that the Timbers Army are more fans of being in the Timbers Army than actual soccer.

    Portland is becoming a great soccer town, and having our national team play qualifiers here should be something fans of the sport are excited to see and proud to host, not yawning because “our chants won’t apply.” The USMNT is supposed to represent the best our country has to offer – why wouldn’t we be eager to see footy at that level?

    • Andrew Brawley says:

      Josh, I think you misunderstood. I’m not suggesting that anyone in the TA wouldn’t be excited to see a USMNT WCQ here. What I am suggesting is that a expectation of typical-atmosphere-by-default is a bit lofty. If a TA atmosphere is what’s desired at such a match, it won’t happen by itself.

      • Josh Kirby says:

        Gotcha. The USWNT friendlies here have been pretty great, though, and the players were all impressed by the atmosphere.

        I just love having PDX in the conversation as a result of having heady soccer fans.

      • anthony rounis says:

        But this piece makes it sound like the TA would rather not take any responsibility for anything if it was to happen. The opposite should happen. The TA should help, if not spearhead, the organization of a supporter’s section. You don’t have to have a songbook of chants and pass out hymnals at the gates, but you can find some worthwhile chants, print them out and hand them out. The TA knowledge of our region could go a long way in making a great environment for a WCQ match.

  6. anthony rounis says:

    In regards to the possibility of a WCQ, this is ignoring an amazing opportunity to showcase not only our home stadium, but to reach a great many people with our ability to rally around something bigger. While it would take some work, using the organizational abilities and the knowledge of the idiosyncrasies of the culture of our region, the TA could turn Jeld-Wen into the kind of environment some national teams enjoy when playing at home (i.e. Mexico, Jamaca, England). As a supporter group, washing our hands of a opportunity to cheer our USMNT boys to a victory would be a tragedy. Instead of pushing off this kind of work to the American Outlaws group, why not work with them to make our stadium more than just a home for our beloved Timbers for one night. Portland may not ooze red, white and blue the same way as other parts of the country, but we are Soccer City, USA.

  7. Dr Jon says:

    Have you forgotten about Sam’s Army: the group founded in 1995 (some 6 years before the TA), boasting 80,000 official members, with history of travel worldwide, and many organized chants? sams-army.com American Outlaws is the Gorilla FC of USMNT supporters. Pay them no mind.

    This article makes the TA seem truly as a group that exists for no other reason than to support itself. Have we forgotten that in the midst of all the mental masturbation in the stands, there is actually an important match on the field? Can we fathom having to minutely adapt our gameday routine to support our own National Team in a critically important game? Honestly, if PDX fans cannot muster up even a half-assed organized support for a WCQ match, then we don’t deserve to get one.

    I’ve been to multiple WCQ games in other cities before (Chicago, DC, Hartford) and I had the humiliating experience of having my own national anthem outsung by the away supporters in the stadium before the game. If you’ve never experienced such a thing, you should, because it might help you appreciate what PDX could give to the USMNT. That is, if we truly are the Soccer City USA that we claim to be.

    • Lendog says:

      I went to WC2006 in Germany, and Sams Army was not hosting events, the Yanks Abroad folks did most of the events.
      US has come a long way, but the politics of the Sams Army stuff that has happenend in the past gave people a sour taste from that.

      • Jeremy Wright says:

        Dr Jon,

        The Timbers Army exists to support…you guessed it THE PORTLAND TIMBERS. How you got out of this piece that ” TA seem truly as a group that exists for no other reason than to support itself” is beyond me.

        I agree that if a USMNT qualifier were to happen we, the TA, should step up to help facilitate a US supporters section but what Andrew is doing here is setting more reasonable expectations of what that would look like.

        It wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to have Capos waving Cascadia flags and billowing green smoke at a UMSNT Qualifier. I think the atmosphere will still be brilliant, I was there at Civic Stadium in 1997 when Tab Ramos sent us to the 98 WC, but it will be different.

        • Dr Jon says:

          Have we no American flags? Have we no red smoke bombs? Can we really contribute so little to our national supporters culture? What is so perplexing here?

          I’ve seen the WCQ in DC, where their supporters seemed to turn out in full force and make plenty of noise. The fact that they were wearing red instead of black didn’t seem to cause too much confusion.

          The TA should be putting their ass to shame. US Soccer needs to leave PDX with a “better than sex” smile on their faces, and the young Nats who ply their trade overseas need to see that Portland is a kick ass soccer town.

          • Seth Hunt says:

            Jon, the USSF will be smiling when they leave Portland because of all the tickets they sold, don’t worry about that.

            The point of this essay is, not everyone in the TA is a USMNT fan, or even American, so don’t expect the TA to take the lead in creating the atmosphere. A good number of TA would participate, I’m sure, but it will be because they’re USMNT fans.

          • John Holden says:

            I was at the WCQ in DC last time around, against Costa Rica, and I think it must have been a 50-50 USA-Costa Rica split on fans.

            If the USMNT come we’ll roll out the carpet as long as the tickets aren’t priced like a USWNT friendly. Honestly though I’d rather see the Timbers lose to Burnley.

      • Dr Jon says:

        Sam’s Army was in Korea in 2002, when the Cascade Rangers were a few dudes banging pickle drums, and they were in France in 1998 when there was no Portland Timbers. They broke the embargo to travel to Cuba for the WCQ in the last round.

        Crap on them all you want, but at least they try to deliver some organized support for the MNT, which is apparently more than Andrew Brawley would have us do.

        • Thunderbear says:

          And Sam’s Army is a bunch of 50-60 year old lame dudes. The end.

          • Tanya says:

            My first cap was in 1993. I have been to every World Cup since then. (And I’m 41, for the record). Sam’s Army was in France in 1998, and sitting behind them at the 3rd game of that abysmal cup was my first experience with a true supporters section, and it blew my mind. (Were you potty trained yet, Thunderbear?) It made me see that going to games as part of a supporter’s club was infinitely better than going alone. In 2002, the Sammers I met in Korea are some of my closest friends today. Most of us on Yanks in Korea and Yanks Abroad were Sam’s Army, so don’t kid yourself, those were Sam’s Army organizing those meetups in 02 and 06 (even if SA National couldn’t get out of his own way), and we were still partying together in South Africa. I am an American Outlaws Chapter leader, and I take a great deal of pride in what AO National has built, but don’t disrespect the (40) 50 and 60 year olds who were doing it long before you, and are still doing it today. We have a lot more stories to tell, and a LOT better stories to tell than many of you. You’re the ones missing out because you blow us off as “lame old dudes.” Trust me when I say, the loss is yours. No disrespect to Timbers (Check my blog http://www.soccerfamilystyle.com, I give respect many times) but acting like you invented supporters clubs in the USA is BS.

  8. Spencer Bone says:

    USA USA! back to back world war champs!

  9. Miguel Martinez says:

    Can’t wait to hear the AO and Sams Army chants at JW.
    It’s going to be full of awesome.

  10. Bobert says:

    So I assume we’ll be hearing Portland and Seattle joining forces to become Cascadia, Catalonia and the rest of the USA can go back to having its birthday parties. Yay!!!

  11. Matt Talley says:

    I could get behind a USA supporters group if they dropped the jingoistic, racist bullshit. And I firmly believe those in leadership positions of the Portland chapters of such groups should be leading the charge to end such chants and attitudes.

  12. Brian T says:

    Some misconceptions that I’d like to clear up before I chip in my two cents. 1) When I was in KC for the last WCQ, I did not hear a single YSA, pretty much the only place that chant has any legs is up North. 2) Sams Army is pretty irrelevant these days, AO has more or less taken the torch and run with it. 3) AOPDX has over 50 members, most of us not “dudes from Gresham,” and continues to grow. Could we have more a foothold in PDX, absolutely; but that remains a work in progress that can only get better as WC2014 approaches. I would invite you and anyone else down to Thirsty Lion for the 2/6 Honduras match to find out exactly what we’re all about.

    I’ve often wondered whether a USMNT game in Portland would really be as epic as it could be or an epic fail. Having traveled to USMNT games and talked with supporters from all over who love what they see at Timbers games, I would expect a very sizable contingent of supporters coming in from all over, and it will require cooperation between TA and AO leadership to help this match reach its full potential. That means at least working with the current AO chants and working a few TA chants in there as well (I personally liked Onward USA and When I Root, I Root for the US at the USWNT games). There is no good reason why a game in Portland couldn’t dwarf what I saw in KC last October, which was an unbelievable experience, but to me, it will come down to how territorial TA leadership decides they want to be, and I hope that for the sake of future games in PDX we can all grit our teeth, Unite and Strengthen, and put on one hell of a good time.

    • Mike Coleman says:

      “it will come down to how territorial TA leadership decides they want to be”

      Well, language like that will certainly foster a good healthy working relationship.

      Mike

      • Brian T says:

        I can remember when AOPDX was forming, TA leadership at the time was less than receptive of us and accused us of trying to hijack National Team support in Portland (thus the territorial statement), suddenly now it seems like they want no part of this (hypothetical) game.

        • Mike Coleman says:

          This was an opinion piece by one member of the Timbers Army (who is a good guy, and who’s opinion a lot of us respect). It is not an official statement from the 107ist, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the Timbers Army membership – so to say “now it seems they want no part of this (hypothetical) game” is a reach.

          I know I’d love to see the game played here, but I also know that doesn’t mean that we’re going to break out green and white flags, blow off green smoke, and sing TA chants – these are components of Timbers game day experience.

          There would be a great game day experience in PDX, but it’s not going to be a carbon copy of what happens during a Timbers match.

          If anyone read anything else in the piece, then I suggest reading it again.

          • Brian T says:

            As Andrew said (one of the few things I do agree with in here) it really wouldn’t make a lot of sense to have green smoke and sing Timbers related songs, and I feel like that goes without saying. I’ve re-read this article several times because I want so badly to believe I’ve mis-read it and the thing I keep coming back to is, what is the point here? It almost seems like he’s trying to dissuade US Soccer from coming here and unfortunately now this article has some legs nationally and has cast us in a negative light.

    • Thunderbear says:

      AO PDX is irrelevant here.

  13. Jimmy T says:

    I dont get this at all..if the TA is such a great supporters group…and does support its national team…then having a WCQ or an International Friendly should be welcomed with hugs and kisses, so to speak. Soccer is still almost a fringe sport in this country and as fans of the sport we should do what we can to promote the sport.

    You cannot call your group a “torch bearer” then act as if other groups, whether club or country are beneath you or would be intruding into your stadium. Thats just being shallow minded and proivincial.

    I personally have been to games in DC, Philly, NY, KC, Chicago and LA. The local SG’s meshed well with AO and created a welcoming atmosphere depsite the differences in club support. I dont understand your opinion but it is what it is I guess, Hopefully the rest of the TA doesn’t share this view.

  14. borough boy says:

    Some of you are missing the fact that each AO chapter is in fact its own group with its own standards. AONYC is very progressive in stopping racist chants, and we tell people to stfu when they chant things that are racist or political. Although i dont see a problem with ‘somebrero’ as it is rather tame, and harmless, i have personally told people to stop singing ’5 guatamalans mow my lawn’ as well as some ass hole chanting dirty water vs haiti. Ao national wont come in and take over, its the local AO’s that do that, and it is your personal responsibility to stop racist chants. -very proud to be AONYC not always proud to be AO.

    • Thunderbear says:

      If you don’t think promoting stereotypes of Mexicans wearing sombreros and being thieves isn’t offensive I can see your point of view. Then there’s the fact I am friends with Mexican-Americans who feel this chant is offensive. I’ll probably stick to their side of the story because the sombrero chant is offensive.

      • borough boy says:

        Sombrero not offensive, its a hat a hat alot of mexican fans wear to matches as part of a costume. As for theives ive always assumed that it was stolen by a us fan but i can see if you assume it was stolen by a mexican then that would be racist. Like most nyers and people that grew up in califorinia i have mexican american friends as well, and never have they expressed being offended when they come to the AO pub. But thank you for your condesending reply. Point is a song about a sombrero isnt any more offensive than a song about “taking them all against the wall and shooting them” or a song about “burning down seattle” For me the sombrero song is ok… anything about a green card not at all.

  15. Robert W. Cross says:

    I show support and am involved with both AOPDX and the Timbers Army because of my passion for my country, my city, the teams I love, and the growth if the beautiful game itself.

    A USMNT cup qualifier at JW would present a tremendous opportunity to grow our sport in our country. I can say, firsthand, that AO National leadership has significant respect for what the “Timbers Army” does and has accomplished.

    Only a handful of US cities will host a WCQ this year. We would be lucky to be one of them.

    • John Holden says:

      “A USMNT cup qualifier at JW would present a tremendous opportunity to grow our sport in our country.”

      How?

      • Robert W. Cross says:

        The passion that Portland shows for the sport is unrivaled in our country IMO. If well coordinated, a WCQ at JW in 2013 would be an excellent showcase for the sport. Not to take anything away from Colombus or Kansas City, but I would like to see what we could do in a match that matters.

  16. Alan Moore says:

    The Timbers Army expresses it’s mission as “supporting soccer in and around Portland”. Why would that stop short of supporting our national teams when they play here? Clearly getting the entire stadium to rock and provide a solid home filed advantage for our boys and girls is a challenge but I say let’s step up to it. The American Outlaws PDX is a small group of mostly 107IST members trying to figure out how to pull off better support for the Nats. I’d invite Andrew and the rest of the TA leadership to work with us rather than try to isolate or belittle us.

    • Seth Hunt says:

      “Supporting soccer in and around Portland” is not the mission of the Timbers Army. The name should be a clue as to what the TA is about. Now if you’d like 107ist to help you out in some way, go ahead and start a conversation with them since that is their mission statement.

    • Patrick Wright says:

      Thats fine if TA wants to be self riteous and and refrain from supporting our national team. It will be a shining example to the nation and the world about how self obsorbed the TA really is, soccer city USA my ass, I can call myself the queen of England it doesnt mean I get to sleep at Buckingham palace. And we all know what your real issue is, it’s the fact that there will be 2 sounders on the field scoring goals and u cringe everytime that happens on your baseball diamond (and it happens a lot) so go ahead TA take a seat and show the world how Seattle yet again outclassed you .. SSTID

      • Mike Coleman says:

        As always, it’s all about $**ttle – please get over yourselves.

        I’m not sure it’s worth even trying to explain (again). The 107ist will work very closely with AO PDX in July. But, the 107ist is not the Timbers Army. It’s a fine line of distinction, but rest assured JWF will be working come July 9th.

        And, unlike up in Seattle (which was 99.9% over the top amazing for the WCQ) you won’t see us hanging a Timbers Army banner ala Gorilla FC.

  17. Alan Moore says:

    From the “What is the Timbers

    “The 107 Independent Supporters’ Trust is the machinery behind the Timbers Army. It supports soccer in and around Portland, Oregon, from the grassroots to the highest professional level. It fuels the Army and supports soccer charities and soccer events in Soccer City USA.”

    http://timbersarmy.org/aboutus/who-we-are

  18. Mike Coleman says:

    One thing that keeps popping into my head here is “Timbers Army” vs. TA – The Timbers Army, which is the name of the supporters group for the Portland Timbers, does not exist to support the national team.

    TA, which is how I refer to folks who are member of the Timbers Army. These folks have various degrees of interest in the USMNT for whatever reason.

    So, will the “Timbers Army” come out to support the USMNT – probably not. Will individual TA come out – certainly. Does it make sense to have TA flags out, probably not (for the same reason it doesn’t make sense to do that for Thorns matches). But individual TA would be there, they’d sing, and they’d support. However, it won’t be a carbon copy of what you see with PTFC takes the pitch (nor should it be).

    Will the 107ist (which is actually the group chartered with supporting soccer at all levels in and around Portland) work to help ensure a successful USMNT WCQ in PDX? I don’t know since we haven’t had a discussion on that topic (that I’ve participated in). From my perspective, as a board member, I would think we’d be open to working to ensure that whatever happens in PDX we continue to show our leadership as Soccer City USA (but I’m one of 11 board members, so take that for what it’s worth).

  19. Shawn says:

    TIMBERS ARMY!

    Don’t take yourselves so SERIOUSLY!

    SEATTLE IS BETTER!

    Yours Truly
    HARTFORD CONNECTICUT

    • Dr. Jon says:

      If Portland is too full of itself to muster up a decent atmosphere for a game, then the USSF really SHOULD go to Hartford. Their stadium has twice the number of seats. There’s no turf issue, and the travel for the EuroNats is closer.

      Of course, the American crowd will get oursung by a few hundred Jamaican fans with a junk band, and the smoke coming from their section probably won’t be for goal celebration.

      Coming to PDX is an obvious financial loser for the USSF. If we can’t provide a decent home field advantage for our team, then I hope they stay away.

  20. Pingback: Portland, Don’t Make Me Cut You « Soccer….Family Style

  21. Tanya says:

    http://soccerfamilystyle.com/2013/01/08/portland-dont-make-me-cut-you/

    I responded on my blog (above) reposted here:
    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.

    • Dr. Jon says:

      Amen sister.

    • Luh-OL

      I don’t ever recall seeing Brawley run scared from my pre-teen daughter. Then again, being afraid of young ladies wasn’t at all the point he was making.

    • PDX Timber says:

      EXTREMELY well said!!!

      If we get to host a USMT WC qualifier, it would be ENOURMOUS. We will not see a more important game for some time at Jeld Wen. This is the bloody world cup qualifiers…Yes, Cascadia is big. Yes the Timbers are many of our number one team. Again, this is the damn World Cup we are talking about. International NON friendlies are a different level…

      I would love to see the TA help organize a fantastic atmosphere for our team. For those members of the TA who do not support our country, for whatever reason…don’t come. I gotta feel there are many that do…

  22. Jeremy Wright says:

    Nice response Tanya, would love to see the original blog post it was in response to, because it certainly wasn’t Brawleys.

  23. I think an important factor that is being neglected by the detractors of this piece will quite integral to the match day experience if a WCQ match is held here. The Timbers Army/107ist has no control (outside of Timbers matches) how seats in the North End are sold or allocated.

  24. MMMMMMk says:

    A day late and a dollar short here.
    I agree with you entirely that the fact that the TA exists in Portland does not automatically make JWF an automatic replica atmosphere for the MNT, just add water and stir.

    That said, the rest of your piece here seems to be a lot of random pot shots that seem unnecessary.

    No, the MNT, WNT, Portland Thorns, PTFC reserves, PTFC U23s, PTFC U18s, PTFC U16s, PTFC U8 summer campers …. any other group in JWF besides the PTFC senior team isn’t going to have the full support of the TA in full voice. I don’t think anyone really expects that to happen. But, as someone who was in Civic Stadium on 9/7/1997 and watched Tab Ramos win the game with a bullet toward the MAC club ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9tCj_bux0Q ), watched the national media fawn over the amazing atmosphere of the crowd of 27,000+ nearly entirely US only supporters (unheard of in the US at the time), and as someone who went back for the friendly against Kuwait a few months later (not nearly as tense or important of a game, summer thundershower soaked the place, but still a good atmosphere) I will vouch for Portland’s ability to host the MNT in style. 16 years later and an even more firmly entrenched soccer supporters culture, we could probably outdo 1997 with no official help from the TA (nor would any be expected). Granted, we can’t fit as many in the stadium (last game was pre-luxury boxes so you could probably cram another 3-4k in that corner and I believe the seats in the lower bowl were still bench in places so more seating), but I have little doubt a MNT qualifier in Portland again would be an unmitigated success.

    I am not AO, not SA or any other national supporters group, but I follow the MNT avidly. I am TA. Have been a Timber fan since I was a kid and watched Clive, John Bain, Pooooole, Willy Anderson (honestly a little too young to remember much before ’77ish on), those F’in Flounders and ‘Caps of the 70s, etc. The TA shouldn’t in any official capacity do a darn thing for the USMNT and that is fine …. but that doesn’t mean that many of its members won’t and that the atmosphere for a MNT game, particularly a qualifier, wouldn’t be tremendous (and significantly different than an overpriced WNT friendly in late November on a weeknight).

    I get that your thesis here is that it won’t be a Timbers home game atmosphere. That is a given though. Your supporting arguments are scattered however and seem to have the tone that such a game would be unwelcome. In 1997 that WCQ game sold out in 30 minutes. I lined up for hours for tickets (before lining up was cool). The internet was in its relative infancy (certainly people were pulling their hair out with their new fangled 28.8 dial up modems trying to get tix).

    Give it a chance man. It will be better than OK.

  25. whycantwebefriends says:

    I have been a member of American Outlaws for 2 years and am involved in the leadership of one of the chapters. I just wanted to chime in with a response to this Op-ed piece as I feel it’s a bit too one sided and biased (after all, it IS an Op-ed piece;).

    There is no doubt that the Timbers Army is one of the best supporters’ groups in the league. I love watching your games and how the city and team have embraced each other. On TV, there is no questioning the atmosphere and passion of Portland supporters. Being from Atlanta, I can only hope that one day we have a fan base that remotely compares to yours.

    With that said, I feel like you are looking at this situation the wrong way. This Op-ed, I believe, is about the home environment if the USMNT schedule a qualifier at JELD-WEN. Your pre-determined opinions on AO, specifically the national leadership and some of the chants, are irrelevant in this discussion and show how biased your stance is. How you came to this opinion, I don’t know, but I think we need to take a step back and look at the purpose of a national supporters group and how the challenges are different to a localized supporters group.

    In my opinion, the American Outlaws exist for two reasons:

    * To promote passionate support for the USMNT.
    * To organize this support.

    I would assume this top-level purpose is very similar to the Timbers Army. The difference is that the Timbers Army is localized support whereas American Outlaws must unite support from a geographically dispersed nation. Add the fact that these fans all have different allegiances to their local teams and you can see why a national effort is beneficial.

    Wherever the USMNT schedules these qualifiers, two types of people will show up. One type will be the local fans who will come out for their first game due to close, convenient proximity. The other type will travel hundreds/thousands of miles from all over the country.

    AO provides an outlet for these passionate fans and allows them to unite and come together to maximize the support for the USMNT. Without that, as you mentioned, “A large (local) contingent will be there, but not in organized fashion with our arsenal of chants.” AO provides these chants, regardless of quality, that provides united support. The local support can either choose to work together with the AO contingent and have a unified, powerful support or choose to work alone and separately and weaken the united support. For whatever reason, you seem to fall into the latter group.

    Based on your views and some hints you gave in your article, you have not travelled a far distance to support the USMNT, yet you still sit there and judge a group of fans who travel hundreds of miles to support their team. I just find that argument flawed and hard to support. To each their own, I guess.

    If/when Portland is chosen to host a game, I will spend hundreds of dollars to travel thousands of miles from Atlanta to watch the game. I hope that this passion is supported and recognized instead of ridiculed, no matter what minute differences of opinions we might have.

  26. Marc says:

    “At the risk of sounding like a communist, I will openly declare that I’m not the biggest fan of AO. I find their schtick repetitive and stale. I find this U-S-A chant particularly annoying. The whole organization could use some new blood at the national level, in my opinion.”

    As an Englishman, living in the states most of his life, but who follows both the Timbers and his homeland teams with equal fervor, I can fully attest that the above is the worst thing the AO does.

  27. Patrick Wright says:

    On a side note to my post earlier good on all timbers fan that actually love the beautifull game in all its forms, that post is not directed towards u but instead to self obsorbed jerks such as Andrew, this is the problem with the internet it gives everyone a voice, even of the should be muzzled.

  28. Harper Morgan-Werner says:

    QFT(AI) “this is the problem with the internet it gives everyone a voice, even of the should be muzzled.”

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