—by Matthew Lindley
As the sun set on this year’s annual Timbers Army BBQ, a new tradition was brought to the pitch at Providence Park. The Championship of the GPSD’s TAFC League is a match for the coveted Cuppy Del Norte and the right to face the representative from Emerald City Supporters later this season on Cascadia derby weekend. This year’s final assured a first-time champion at Providence Park as Multnomah Forest AFC faced rivals from across the I-5 bridge, Northern Alliance FC.
An interesting backdrop was provided as cheering sections gathered for each team let their voices be heard from the opening whistle. Adding to this was the 2nd half of the US National Team’s rout at the hands of Argentina being broadcast on the PP video board.
Both teams began the match at a quick and physical pace, with MFAFC on the front foot for much of the first 20 minutes. That changed in the 26th minute when NAFC’s Joseph Stevenson put a header off the woodwork, coming inches away from taking the match's first lead. Moments later, a second cheer went up as Darlington Nagbe was subbed in on the big screen for that match's waning moments. MFAFC briefly turned the tide when a great free kick attempt sailed just over the bar, bringing us to halftime.
The halftime entertainment for the evening was provided by the TAFC version of “Lil Timbers” as the Old Growth FC Over-40 and Over-50 teams faced off in a mini-match in the North End, further celebrating the great soccer culture created by the TA and the TAFC.
Northern Alliance began the second half on a tear, looking quite dangerous with numerous tests of the Forest defense. This changed in the 65th minute when Tim Elzinga of Multnomah Forest turned a great run into the best chance of the match by either team, barely stopped by the NAFC keeper.
It stayed a back and forth affair until the 88th minute, when Jurgen Hartung found the back of the net to give Northern Alliance the match’s first lead in the late stages. The final nail was driven moments later when Hartung drained a screamer from long distance moments from the referee’s final whistle, to deliver the “Cuppy” directly into the hands of the men from Vancouver.
With the victory in the books, next up for the new champions are the enemy from the North later this summer. But many left the terraces with the hope that this becomes an annual summer tradition for seasons to come.
See the full set of match photos taken by TA photographer Ray Terrill.