It was the most unreal feeling I've had in a while, much like the feeling in my stomach when I got married. It was part exhilaration, part anxiety, part happiness, and part being overwhelmed at the moment, but I had achieved something I'd wanted to do for a very long time. In the second half of the Timbers - Puerto Rico match at home on Thursday night, I was on the pitch with my camera taking pictures. It had already been a momentus day when I got to this point, so I was happy to take a moment and take it all in.
The City Council had passed the financing bill for PGE Park to refurbish it to a soccer/football only facility, and the Timbers were playing for first place in the USL First Division against Puerto Rico. The vote on the financing took place about 5:30 pm, and by the time the final votes were done, girl and I were cutting it close to get to the stadium to get our seats in Row N. But it didn't matter, because we got the votes we needed. 4 affirmative, 1 negative, and MLS now has a future here, and I still believe in baseball's future here too, as long as a home can be found, and it looks like Beaverton is angling for the team and has the best chance now. As I listened to the testimony and speeches, I was struck about the fact this was a pipe dream just over a year ago, and now it's one step away from reality. There's a final vote in September once the final designs and financing are figured out, but Thursday's vote is really the point of no return. In two years time, MLS teams will be coming to Portland, seeing what the Puerto Rico Islanders were faced with.
A crowd of 14,000 fans, all excited, and ready to go. The game itself was fairly balanced and well paced, both teams took their shots to score but played within themselves, and in the end, it was a scoreless draw. Ok, that happens in soccer, but the enthusiasm wasn't dampened by this at all. The Timbers Army did a tifo display for Scot Thompson, who became the franchises' all time games played leader, and he had already earned the record for most minutes played, so the TA wanted to do something for the team's emotional leader. And his play on the pitch didn't disappoint, as he kept Puerto Rico's forwards at bay all night. Steve Cronin came up big as usual, and the defense played very well, as we saw two first place teams that really tried to do what they do best, but ended up being countered by another team that can match them. Puerto Rico may have speed in the mids and defense, but they can't match Portland's creativity and discipline, and both teams have top notch keeping, which means you're going to need to do something special to score.
But on this night, it didn't matter the score. It didn't matter that I had forgotten to do a match report for the big match, it didn't matter about anything more than just being part of something special. There was a lot of people that worked very hard to get MLS here, and these people continue to support the current USL team with all of their heart, mind, soul and wallets. It was a true honor to see a lot of people realize what many of us TA already know, this team and this sport are for real, and Thursday night, 14,000 people witnessed another rebirth of soccer in Portland. And for me, having a true dream to be a sportscaster and write and talk about my sports and teams, it was truly overwhelming to see that my dream had come true. I'm truly blessed to be part of such a great group of fans, and love a team that is so much more than just a bunch of guys playing soccer. It's nice to see some others start to get it.
Tomorrow, we have a big day in Shittle to help our friends from the Chicago Fire cheer on their boys versus FC Puke Green, and then the Timbers face Burnley in a friendly at PGE Park on Saturday night. I"ll have my take and attempted pictures from the whole thing up, and you can also view my writing about last night for the O-Live world.