The Dakeryn traders here would attest that my ‘Caps’ jersey and I have not missed a Vancouver Whitecaps home game since the club joined Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2011. Having already traveled twice to see the team play in Seattle, it was double the distance to reach America’s greenest city – Portland, Oregon – for a Saturday night ‘derby match’ with a fierce Cascadia Cup rival.
The Cascadia Cup of course is the name of the trophy created in 2004 by supporters of the Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders, and Vancouver Whitecaps, awarded each season to the best soccer team in the Pacific Northwest. Portland is home to what must be the loudest supporters in MLS – The Timbers Army. And lumberjack Timber Joey, the club’s mascot, is famous for firing up his chainsaw after each goal by the home team, buzzing fans into a frenzy as the sawdust flies. While stadium capacity is just 22,000, Jen-Weld Field actually reminded me a little of our visit to the Roman Colosseum five years ago. The oldest stadium in MLS, it features very high walls between the steep seats and the field, making it feel as though Roman Gladiators might just suddenly emerge from the tunnels to do combat. Not surprisingly, Jen-Weld was recently ranked the number one stadium for soccer fans in MLS. Nevermind the stadium, I might add that Portland is not far behind Boston now on my long list of favorite American cities.