–by Gabby Rosas
Nearly a month has passed since we won the Cup. As we progressed through playoffs, it became more clear that the road to the final was going to go through Ohio. I took the gamble the night before the semifinal match, while texting with a couple of friends to coordinate which flight, which hotel, who was getting a rental car. This was all well before the charters, and well before we had any idea how many Timbers fans and Timbers Army were going to be making the trek to Ohio.
My story is similar to others’: I burned all my Alaska Airlines miles, was on the phone with Customer Service to try to figure out how to do it in the most direct way, crammed 5 people into my hotel room (also covered by points), and shared a rental car. But there are a number of unique stories about how TA got to the match. Below are a few, direct from the Traveling TA themselves:
Green: starting points, yellow: ending/transit points (map by John Holden)
On Friday December 4th I drove 2 hours to PDX, flew to SFO, flew to ORD, drove from Chicago and slept in the rental car somewhere between Chicago and Indianapolis. On my way out of Chicago I was in the middle of a high speed chase in south Chicago. I finished the drive to Columbus the next day. – Jonathan Haase
One of my favorite stories was from one of our futsal buddies. Ben Harris mentioned after one of our matches that he was thinking about driving to Columbus from Portland, even though he didn’t have a ticket. And he did just that - driving across the country with his ex-GF to help her move. At one point, they calculated the time and almost weren’t going to make it, so they doubled down and drove straight through to Ohio. After he got to Columbus, he got tickets from the Marsh family after they were given tickets by a winner of the FO drawing. Believe Beyond Reason. – Recounted by Ray Terrill
I flew on the red eye flight from Portland to Detroit on Friday night before the game. Lots of PTFC on the flight. Many of us continued to Columbus on a puddle jumper at 6:20am–probably half the flight consisted of Timbers supporters. We were delayed on the tarmac in Detroit for over an hour (most of us got some additional sleep), but finally arrived around 10am. – Bryan Smith
We flew into Cleveland late on Friday night and spent the night, then drove to Akron on Saturday morning. It was cold and foggy, and walking around on the pitch where so many of our guys got their start was pretty amazing. We packed ourselves back in the car and made our way to Columbus and our date with destiny. – Ray Terrill
I traveled to MLS cup alone, planning to meet my cousin in Ohio. Luckily, half the flight was composed of green and gold, so I was fortunate enough to sit with folks I could actually speak to. I've been in Oregon since 2009, so I have a lot of friends in the TA, but there's also a few thousand I don't know. Not knowing anyone on this flight, I made the great decision to sit with Mike and Charlotte Kocher on my first leg. These two original 1975 fans were more than a pleasure to chat with, as the ride was filled with history lessons about the city of Portland, the team, the TA, the chants, and even how to be a good grandparent. – Benjamin Stern
I found myself in Charlotte, NC for work when I got the call from the Front Office. It was my ticket rep letting me know they had a seat for me to Sunday’s MLS Cup. I was scheduled to fly back from Charlotte to Portland on Friday. But knowing how tough it was going to be to get a flight on Saturday back to Charlotte, I tried to reroute through Columbus. That didn't work either. A quick look on Google Maps, a call to Delta (sorry Alaska), a check on rental car prices, and I found myself driving over the Appalachian Mountains, through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and into Ohio, to watch a 90 minute soccer game. – Kevin Murphy
While driving over the Appalachian Mountains may seem like quite the ordeal, I was on a flight from LAX to Columbus, and one of the TA members with whom I had traveled from PDX to LAX had a medical emergency. Edward was also on the flight. This happened at about 2am:
While on our flight from LA to Columbus, a passenger experienced a medical emergency. One of our fellow TA members, Jose Rodriguez, immediately volunteered to help the man. He spent the next 30 minutes making sure the passenger was stable. – Edward Kilgarriff
Green: flight routes, yellow: driving routes (map by John Holden)
The night before the match, many of the Timbers Army faithful gathered at a couple of bars in downtown Columbus to drink and share in the merriment. Throughout the night, people climbed the stairs to the balcony area and hung over the crowd to start chants. The atmosphere was at times electric and other times familiar, as fans met up, sharing hugs and stories while the pints flowed. At some point the truck showed up with the log, and people gathered around it for photos, including several stunned Columbus fans.
Seeing the log pull up was pretty amazing. Probably the two things that stick in my mind from that night are seeing IceFunk lead chants again from the balcony (miss that guy), and getting to see, talk to, and hug Timber Jim. – Ray Terrill
The day of the match, everyone had their own routine, their own pregame ritual. I was completely off my game. I arrived in Columbus with my 2 travel mates at 5am, drove to the hotel and collapsed face first into the hotel bed around 6am, only to get up at 9am and try to force down some breakfast and coffee. Then, the 5 of us staying together had to play musical showers/bathroom time to try to get to the tailgate by 11am or so (we didn’t want to miss all the fun!). Others had some slightly different pre-game experiences:
On the morning of MLS Cup, my buddy Kyle and I were on our way out the door from breakfast downtown, and were walking behind some middle-aged women wearing black overcoats and pushing a stroller. As we got closer, I saw that one of them was wearing a football scarf, but nether green-and-gold nor the Columbus yellow-and-black, which didn’t make any sense. Sort of a red-blue-yellow thing with an odd logo. I thought, “Is that an RSL scarf?” We got closer still, and I saw the lettering: “NAT BORCHERS.” We had to ask, “Excuse me, ma’am, but why are you wearing a Nat Borchers scarf?” She turned around with a beaming smile and said, “Because I’m his mom!” The other woman was his aunt, and the little boy was (I think) his son! She explained to us that the RSL claret-and-cobalt was her only soccer scarf; that she’d been hoping Nat would get a Timbers one for her, but he hadn’t gotten around to it. I asked her for the honor of giving her my own No Pity scarf. She tried to politely refuse, but I assured her that it would mean so much more to me than she could know if she took it and wore it for the Cup final. Moreover, Kyle had two scarves on at the time, and he could immediately replace mine (which I appreciated, because my neck was cold). She graciously accepted, and I placed it around her neck. It was an amazing moment knowing Nat's mom would be sporting my scarf as her son marched on to victory! – Thomas Raines-Morris
There have been a lot of figures thrown around regarding how many TA or Timbers fans actually made the trek to Columbus. There was a wild tailgate before the match, hundreds of people decked out in green and white having fun and pinching each other because “How did this happen? Can you believe it?!” We shared our stories of how we were able to drop everything and make this happen in person. Some stories were so ridiculous: canceled flights, rerouting, driving thousands of miles. And then there were the fortunate few that were able to be on the Front Office charters.
I was one of the lucky ones who won the trip to fly with team on Thursday. I first though a friend of mine was punking me when he called and said I had won, but then when I received the notification I knew it was true. Now the hard part started. I had to get my boss to let me off work and let me go.....which I did by inviting her along. Then I had to get the rest of the week's work done in a day plus reschedule the meetings we had for the week plus the following Monday. Then arrangements had to be made. Well, Thursday rolls around and the day has come to fly out with the team. We board first and get the rules about the flight told to us, let's just say it felt like detention......but the team needed to be focused so it needed to be that way. – Gary Read
After traveling to Vancouver and Dallas to cheer on our boys, it was an easy decision to follow them to Columbus. We used the last of our airline miles and $1200. Secured our hotel room, but then we missed the first game ticket lottery while flying home from Dallas, we missed out on the next lottery, etc. I whined on the TA page pleading for StubHub to be kind. A friendly TA faithful had two extra tickets that we were able to buy for a reasonable price. Feeling the love.
Then we learn that we won seats on the Alaska Air Supporters flight and game tickets!!! Wow! What a flight. Timber Jim and the indomitable Shawn Levy on board to help cheer us along, love notes from us to the players, great trivia games–so much positivity and great energy; with all the sponsors, the supporters, the city had done, there was no way the Timbers could lose! – Becky Patterson
Then there was the actual match. I had planned to stand with a few of my friends from 208, and through some miscommunication, we were split up. Nevertheless, it was a fantastic experience. I ended up meeting up with everyone after the match for a low-key dinner (well, almost dinner) at the pub down the street from my hotel. I was wiped. A red eye plus that match? I needed to sleep for a week! Others, not so much. Here’s the take from fellow travelers about the match and post-match experiences:
I tracked down my new friends at the tailgate before the game and in the stands after the game. I missed them at the Union for the TA afterparty, although I did get two beers on MP's tab. I spent the evening adding foil star stickers to the crests of happy TA members for the next two hours. We sang along and drank along and rocked the house. Drag queens arrived later–it was like a "party in Portland, no one [was] sleeping [that] night". A wonderful time made significantly better by all my TA brethren in Columbus. – Bryan Smith
After the match, we tracked down an Uber outside Mapfre and made our way to the victory celebration at Union Cafe in Short North. Drinks and food were ordered and shared (thanks Merritt!), and we sang ballads and show tunes for hours and hours (including some tear-inducing renditions of “In the Air Tonight” and “We Are the Champions”). An absolutely amazing night with hundreds of my favorite TA people. A perfect way to end an amazing season. – Ray Terrill
Two season ticket holder lottery tix, two TA tix, and airfare? Check! My husband Steve and I were ready. We couldn't miss the -year anniversary of the Akron-Louisville final college cup 2010. Where Nagbe & Porter walked away winners while my son Buckminster's team came in 2nd. Fast forward to 2015. With 30 family members waiting, we flew to into Louisville, picked up my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson for the trek to Columbus. Decked out in green paint and employee-store Space Jam J's, my party of 5 took on Mapfre Stadium. Now my son Buck, instead of taking the last shot on goal against Akron, was in the stands teaching his 3-year-old Tucker how to Tetris and pogo hug during the game. To imagine that 5 years could bring such changes to so many fortunes had to be witnessed in person. Proud to tailgate, proud to be in the TA, proud to win, proud to attend the rally, proud to plant trees to honor the city of our beloved team. Our Thursday-Monday flight, our multiple family reunions would have only happened through the hard work of the timbers and the faithful TA. This time, it was nice to be on the same side as Porter & Nagbe. After five years, all is forgiven. – Elizabeth Tufty
I joined close to 2000 people, most I barely know, and yet in the last five years I consider them some of my closest friends for at least a few Saturdays and Sundays each season. I barely understand the game or how in just a few years it's driven me to do crazy things like this. But it is special. – Kevin Murphy
We met up with my husband's babysitter from 1968. She wanted to drive us to the game where she planned on tailgating through the game because she didn't have tickets. Perfect, our chance to Spread The Love. We gave her our extra tickets, our scarves from the flight, and welcomed her to the Timbers Army! Her Crew friends tried to light the scarf on fire but by the end they were all sharing a little post-game love. – Becky Patterson
I started my trip back to Portland early on Monday morning. I just had to retrace my steps back to LAX and then Portland. I arrived within 15 minutes of the team plane, mainly because they experienced a delay leaving Columbus. I was able to see the team, the trophy, Porter, MP, and everyone from inside security. I was able to see the plane land. I was very fortunate to have the whole event come full circle.
Watching our boys stomp the Crew was amazing and then the partying began. Well, the next thing you know it is time to fly home, so we head to the airport and end up delayed for an hour and a half. Hmm, strange parking place for the Timbers plane. Well, they get that sorted out and we finally load up. Well, this time the flight felt more like a classroom in which the teacher had left the room. The players were having fun, the fans were having fun, it just felt right. Pictures with the Cup, oh oh this is just amazing. Well, then the turbulence started on our approach in to Portland and that's when things got real interesting, the team all raised their arms and broke out into a rendition of Tetris.....the plane bouncing around providing the movement back and forth. Then the team had enough of that and started the "blow the fkn whistle" chant, too funny. But I can't end this story without thanking the team of nameless people who made this once-in-a-lifetime experience happen, I have no idea who all of you are but THANK YOU ALL for my moment in Timber history. – Gary Read
On the trip back, a huge number of us were stranded in Midway Airport for hours on end. Being the lone wolf that I am, I wandered the airport with a huge grin on my face from the previous day's events. Eventually, a small group of TA beckoned me over for a picture and to chat a bit. Tye, Gordon, and Rob were kind enough to invite me into their conversations of footy, TA history, and life. I mentioned that it was Icefunk who notoriously welcomed me to the SCUSA community 6 years earlier, and the irony of him welcoming me to this meeting of the minds in the airport was... well... A bit of SCUSA nostalgia. It's the people like these, and the shared obsession over a game of footy, that make this whole experience one of the pieces to living a fulfilled life. – Benjamin Stern
Do you know what? It was worth every penny and every second to be there for our boys. I met so many amazing people and fellow road warriors along the way. Can you believe that we won the league?! We can now say that we have the best team along with the best fans in the league. – Jonathan Haase
So many great stories from so many people. Our magic is real. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS.