I grew up playing soccer in Portland and it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if many of you did as well. It was a big part of my life all the way through high school and I truly had fun playing the game. I was surrounded by great teammates, wonderful coaches and a really great group of parents. I was fortunate enough to play virtually every position, from midfield, to striker, to sweeper to defense. I can’t say that I played these positions equally well but the opportunity was there and I made the most of it. It all came to a screeching halt when it came time to go to college and I gave up soccer to focus on music. Scholarships have a fairly major way of making decisions for us, wouldn’t you agree?
And that ended my interest in the sport, for the most part.
Perhaps it’s all in my head but I think my experience is fairly common – kids grow up playing soccer in Portland through various leagues, high school and perhaps even college. And then their involvement and interest in the sport diminishes or goes away altogether. And I’m sure the same can be said for parents – once they are done watching from the sidelines in a complete downpour for the umpteenth time they are ready to hang up the circus size umbrella and be finished with soccer spectatorship. Can you blame them?
When I heard that Portland was joining the MLS and that professional soccer would be coming to our city I wasn’t quite sure to make of the announcement. Would it be a complete flop or would Portland be able to tap into the dormant soccer interest of thousands of former players and parents? And then those brilliant murals started showing up seemingly everywhere depicting regular soccer fans in various stages of “game face” posing. Interesting. Soon we all were treated to views of the newly renovated stadium. Amazing. Spectacular. I started hearing about my neighbors and friends getting tickets to games. That really got my attention.
When we turned on the game last night I was absolutely astounded to see so many fans in the stadium. And if I was just listening I could have sworn the game was being played some place in Europe. The Timber’s Army and throngs of others only seemed to stop singing when there was a well-played ball or a close call at our own goal. Even amidst a complete downpour last night the environment at the game must have been absolutely amazing. And, most importantly, it really looked like a lot of fun.
Portland, it appears you are no longer a one sport town. Congratulations to the Timbers organization – this truly looks like a winner.