MLS Analyst Matthew Doyle tweeted that last night’s matchup between Portland Timbers FC and Philadelphia Union at Jeld-Wen Field last night in Portland featured the best atmosphere that he had ever seen at a soccer game, including Arsenal / Chelsea and Celtic / Rangers.
For the 20,438 in attendance, the atmosphere was sweetened by the final outcome.
After giving up an early second half goal to the Union’s Gabriel Gomez, the Timbers came back with a vengeance scoring three of their own, finishing off Philadelphia 3-1 in the MLS opener for both teams.
The game had everything that a Timbers fan could want: Portland rain, Timbers Army passion, a little bit of rookie magic, and an emphatic win.
The Timbers Army:
With the American soccer nation watching on prime time cable television, Timber Joey and the rest of the Army brought it, 20,000 strong. Before the game even started, the Timbers faithful sang stole the spotlight by singing the national anthem. Drunk or not, they sounded better than anyone else Portland could have hired to sing it.
Once the game started and the ball found the back of the net, the chainsaws were roaring and the green smoke bombs started to fly, it was all out war.
The Army was a catalyst in helping their Timbers secede from the Union.
The Debut of Andrew Jean-Baptiste
The 19 year-old Haitian kid from Brooklyn, New York etched his name into Timbers lore with a dramatic equalizer in the 54th minute last night. The eighth pick in the MLS Superdraft from UConn, Jean-Baptiste made a statement in his debut scoring his first career goal in dramatic fashion on a header set up by midfielder Jack Jewsbury.
You better believe that Jean-Baptiste’s jerseys will be a trendy fashion accessory in Portland this spring.
A Timbers Victory
It seems to be obvious, but it cannot be overstated. The Timbers produced local and national buzz with their energetic crowds and quality play, barely missing the MLS playoffs in their inaugural season.
An injury to starter Futty Danso and a visa issue with defender Hanyer Mosquera setup Jean-Baptiste’s magical debut forcing coach John Spencer to play the rookie.
This one can be chalked up to the frigid weather. There was not a letdown by any stretch of the imagination to start as the Timbers were ready to play, but had to deal adjust to the conditions.
The field was fast and slick and the visibility was awful because of the torrential rainfall, providing conditions that even the Rooneys and Cristiano Ronaldos of the world would struggle with early in a game.
Philadelphia should be given some credit for holding the Timbers scoreless in the first half and keeping their poise in front of a raucous opposing crowd.
In the last 36 minutes, it was a Portland party.
The Timbers’ next game will be in Texas at FC Dallas at 5:30 on Saturday.
Full Match Highlights