—by Mike Coleman
The following is an opinion piece, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Timbers Army or the 107ist board of directors.
On October 3rd, this team sat below the red line with a handful of matches left to be played, and with two on the road in places where wins hadn’t been easy to come by: Salt Lake City and Carson. I don’t think I am alone in admitting that I didn’t think the mighty PTFC was going to the playoffs.
On October 4th, I was lucky enough to be a guest at the annual Stand Together banquet. Merritt got up in front of the audience and guaranteed that the team would get the results that were needed for a playoff push. He said once we were in, anything could happen.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure they could do it. I won’t say I had completely given up hope of making the playoffs, but part of me didn’t believe there was any way we were going to be playing after October 25th.
Well, Merritt was right… and I was completely wrong.
48 hours ago we won a trophy. Silverware. Western Conference Champions.
In five days, we will challenge the Columbus Crew for the MLS Cup.
I never saw it coming. I just didn’t.
This team suddenly started playing in a manner that defied explanation. A gritty win in Salt Lake, dismantling the Galaxy in their home, and then finishing strong at Providence Park against Colorado.
We didn’t limp into the playoffs — we flat rolled into them.
Then two posts, a visit to our house in the middle of BC, and one bull ride later here we are.
It’s just so glorious.
But there’s a lesson here, at least for me: You never know what’s going to happen. It’s not over until the soprano sings her final aria. (Is that a thing? I’ve only been to one opera.)
The 2015 Portland Timbers have taught me that you don’t give up hope: As long as there’s a chance, there’s a chance.
And don’t even get me started on the Timbers Army as a whole. The past 48 hours have been absolutely bonkers for those of us who volunteer behind the scenes. Frankly, I was a bit afraid of how it was going to come together, but what I have seen is everyone pitching in like a family does:
Joe needs a ride from Detroit to Columbus. We got you, fam.
Can someone help put together a tailgate? Totally. What do you need?
Sorry we sold out of tickets, and our site crashed. It’s ok. We appreciate the effort.
I’ve heard it said that you don’t learn about character until you face adversity. I think that I’ve learned a metric shit ton about the character of our Team, Town, and Timbers Army in the past 48 hours while we’re experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime run.
So where does this all leave me? I used to tell people, “I don’t know enough about soccer to comment on player moves or tactics.” I’m not sure when I felt like I got smart enough, but clearly I was wrong: I didn’t know diddly squat.
So going forward, I’ll leave it to people way smarter than me to debate what are the good trades vs the bad ones or which formation gives us the best chance for success. When things once again look grim in the middle of some future season (this is sports, it’s bound to happen) and folks start to grouse, I'll just say, “Remember 2015?”
Regardless of what happens on Sunday, I’m just going to spend the rest of my days in the TA reveling in the fact that I’m part of a vibrant, diverse community of supporters who are aligned behind a club that never gave up, even when part of me did.