Portland v. Seattle: A Screed of Independence

“Anonymous said…”“No self-respecting Portlander will EVER cheer for Seattle Sounders. They may attend a match to watch Beckham or root against Seattle with the opposing fans. The Timbers have a strong identity in Portland and the very heated rivalry goes back to NASL days.”

I lifted that from the comments on du Nord’s main post from yesterday. Call the screed below a reaction to several lines of thinking in that comment: what it is to be “a self-respecting Portlander,” what it is to be a soccer fan, and so on. This post has been a long time coming, something I’ve sat on because I didn’t want to listen to any kind of aftermath. The bile contained in it grows from swallowing the irritation of reading the silly shit inherent in the “true supporter” mentality.

Contrary to anonymous’ comment, I’m a self-respecting Portlander and I will be cheering for the MLS Seattle Sounders. And I’ll be cheering for the Timbers. Different teams, different divisions: let’s drop the sad pretense we’re dealing with Liverpool and Everton.

Maybe I should describe myself as a “self-loathing Portlander.” The thing is, I’ve lived in both Seattle and Portland and wound up in Portland because I like it better…or I used to. Time was, I had more fun in Portland, the beer was cheaper, and, for a while anyway, the people who lived here seemed a whole lot less into themselves and less eager to celebrate their choices. They lived here and got on with it. The beer is still cheaper, but the rest has changed. One indicator for that: “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers; if you have to keep reminding yourself to “be weird,” chances are you’re entirely normal, in spite of your “creative class” job.

Yeah, I’m also a transplant. Big deal. I’m guessing “anonymous” and a damn big chunk of the Timbers Army are transplants as well. Have I measured that? Nope. Just running the averages: a huge general transplant percentage in Portland probably equals a huge general transplant percentage in the Timbers Army. What’s my point? I don’t get how people get so hopped up on their “Portlandness,” how they embrace it so fervently when, like me, they’re transplants. I’ve lived in the wet side of the Northwest since 1989, excluding a four-year sojourn to the East Coast – and I’ve never had the urge actually mate with my city. Maybe these people want and/or expect more from their city. And, here especially, there’s this suffocating sense of Portland, once a city, now an identity.

The truly mysterious thing to me: not a whole lot really separates the two cities – certainly, the people don’t. I used to think Portland occupied a higher rung in Yuppie Hell, but I think it’s starting to drift down the rungs to meet Seattle. The fans do seem to hate each other – and I can only call that a mystery. That’s not to say, the rivalry isn’t fun – it is – but to take it seriously…I don’t get it. Maybe it’s a function of that weird inferiority complex Portland has always seemed to cart around, this ridiculous chip on its shoulder about being the “junior city.” I saw much the same thing between Boston and NYC when I lived in the former – and, yeah, I do find my preference for “second cities” a little peculiar…probably grows from a general desire for being outside the loop. Maybe it’s simple misanthropy.

With all that off my chest – whew! (and I’m waiting on the angry rebuttals) – the main thing is, I agree with most of what Portland fans seem to want. If an MLS club comes to Portland, they should play in PGE Park or another downtown facility – check. The Timbers’ Army sings at games and they liven up PGE Park – and I appreciate that, down to the foul language it foists on my kids (better learn it there than somewhere unsavory, I figure). And based on what I’ve seen, they’re a more boisterous supporters group than Seattle’s – check, so far as I find that interesting or important (not far). I should like a Portland soccer team more than a Seattle one – check.

So, I’m a card-carrying Portland fan…except for that whole thing about hating Seattle. I’ll readily root for a Seattle team provided, 1) they don’t play in the same division as a Portland team, and, 2) they’re not playing against the Timbers in whatever capacity. But week in, week out, what the fuck does it matter that I pull for a Seattle MLS team? In what way does this diminish a Portland team? When, or even if, an MLS team moves to Seattle, I’ll keep going to Portland Timbers’ games; when they meet in the U.S. Open Cup – assuming that tournament doesn’t go poof under the current pressures – I’ll pull even harder to Portland over Seattle. If Portland gets an MLS team, great, I’ll keep pulling for Portland…unless I move…then, who knows what?

Clearly, I can just ignore what anonymous wrote and just get on my life, right? So, why do I let it get up my ass? I don’t know. I guess it’s just the strong-arm, almost Bushian thinking anonymous’ statement and “true fandom” too often embodies: if you’re not with us, you’re with the enemy. Maybe I can’t stand being told what to think when what I’m being told is asinine. We’re talking about watching a bunch of dudes playing a game. They’re not our personal friends, we don’t have to pay Seattle tribute when we lose, they don’t charge down from the North and steal our virgins. They win or we win; both sets of fans go home and get drunk.

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42 Responses

  1. You would root for the Seattle team???

    What is wrong with you?

    You should burn in hell man.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to write. I knew there were people out there, down south, who don’t use knee-jerk hate to enhance their footy experience.

    I’ll bet you aren’t alone. Hope PDX is MLS some day, too.

  3. […] Extending the olive branch of peace from Portland to Seattle (Center Holds It) […]

  4. I hear you man. I’m here in Seattle, but if Portland got a team over us, I’d root for ’em.

  5. You’re all very kind, but I have to say it. Joe, I LOVE that comment. So succinct…I can only applaud.

  6. I’m torn–on one hand, Seattle (if they actually get a team in the MLS) would be my favorite *MLS* team, at least until Portland gets one. But I can’t say that I would want to make the drive up to see them play. Being a transplant myself (2000 from Denver, draft pick to be named later…), I can finally get away from the sorta-kinda-boy-I-wish-I-dint-havta rooting for the hapless Rapidos.

    I’ve been a Seahawks fan since 1976 (they had the coolest unis out there for my 8-year-old taste) but lived in Denver. Since we moved out here, we made the haul to see them twice in 2001…and it’s just a sapping experience. And it’s damb expensive to take 3 kids and the wife to a game, let alone one 3 hours away.

    So yeah, I guess I’m not worried about having season tickets to the Timbers and rooting for an MLS Sounders club on the TV. But that’s not really the answer to the question that the theoretical Sounders MLS management would want. My money and my butt would stay in PDX…but not because I hate Seattle and some mythical intra-city hatred.

    Heck, I’m almost over disliking Nebraska.

  7. Wow, fred. A Seattle fan living in Denver. Clearly, you’re brave enough to pull for a Seattle MLS team out of Portland. I once had a friend who was a Denver fan in Seattle and that didn’t go over well with the locals…or, rather, it backfired horribly on him back when Denver set the standard for Super Bowl futility. Oh, the mockery he endured…

  8. yeah, well, my parents made the mistake of taking me to see a Broncos-Seahawks game for my 12th (I think?) birthday. I was threatened by several intoxicated adults in the stands around me with grave bodily injury if I kept rooting for the ‘hawks on that day. I think my parents were quite appalled and embarrassed by it all. (cue sad violins…)

    It was quite the introduction to fan-assanity.

    Of course, if a team does come to Seattle, and my children (who, thanks to the Lalas marketing machine and Beckham! know who the LA Galaxy are) would pine to go, I’m sure we would make that mind-sapping drive at least once during a season…if the price were, ahem, right.

    When Portland gets MLS (or when the USLers play and beat up on the MLS Sounders) there would be no question to our loyalty. Make a bonfire!

  9. Self-loathing? I should think so.

    You’re not a Timbers fan. You’re a soccer fan who happens to live in Portland.

    And when your days here pass, so will your negligible impact on the fan base.

    True Portland Timbers fans wouldn’t root for the Sounders against Al Qaeda.

    Good for you supporting your local team, ‘n all. But you’re not a true supporter for evermore, as the song requires.

  10. youre a douche. i bet youre driving to vancouver to watch the whitecaps v becks, huh. wave from the beer garden during th v tfc match. we’ll all tell you “good-bye”

  11. There’s not enough love in the world. But there’s far too little hatred for the Sounders. If you perceive rivalry to only exist between those in the same league then you fail to see what it means to be devoted to your club and city. Portland appears to just be an address to you.

    For those like us, it’s a way of life. “Rose City ‘Til I Die” for you is just a lyric, for me it’s an anthem.

  12. do you sit in the box seats at PGE? how can you support rival teams? why dont we all just hug it out while sittin gon the fence together………

    go home ya bum, which i believe to you means s**ttle

  13. I guess you didn’t read the fine print…the part about preferring Portland to Seattle. Oh, wait. That wasn’t fine print…

    This is soccer. “Sitting on the fence” has no meaning worthy of the name; what happens – what really happens – when Portland loses to Seattle? And, as it says in the above, if and when Seattle moves to MLS, these teams, um, won’t be rivals; that can’t be done in separate leagues without promotion/relegation. And – again – if you read above, you’ll see the various clauses about how this relationship will work if and when the teams do face in direct competition/wind up in the same division (which, in all likelihood, won’t happen because the Portland market sets up too many conditions for how they would spend other people’s money – never a popular idea).

    I’ve seen both of you on the Soccer City board – well, I’ve seen Obi – and I get a kick out of what you write. And the image of Deborah Knapp next to/over the phrase “believe beyond reason” is pure genius. You’ve found your thing, you have a blast with it, and, really, that’s great. But, in practical terms, I go to Timbers games; I was a three-year season ticket holder till finances made that impossible – and, no, I’ve never sat in the luxury boxes. But I have never joined an Army of any kind and don’t intend to start with the Timbers Army. There seems to be a thrill for shrinking the definition of what it is to be a “true fan,” something that strikes me as, well, a little stupid given the support soccer enjoys in this country.

  14. Whoops. I see the Timbers message board found me…I missed a few up there.

    1) I’m also not a douche. I’m just well-adjusted and have, y’know, actual interests and enthusiasms outside soccer, so I don’t live my life in one tiny little space.

    2) Beckham in Vancouver got canceled. Besides, I think the whole Beckham thing hurt MLS more than it helped so far. I’m also not an idiot; I won’t pay extra for a ticket to the same damn game.

  15. I hope you are drenched in blood and fed to the dogs! VIVA LOS TIMBERISTAS

  16. Categories
    Portland Timbers (2)
    Seattle Sounders (5)

    Eat a cock, “Timbers Fan”. You won’t be missed.

  17. You are a fool, mate. Have fun in Shittle with your POD friends.
    NO PTFC SUPPORTER WOULD EVER ROOT FOR SHITTLE……..END OF STORY

    RCTID

  18. Sorry forgot to add…

    BURN IN HELL

  19. Hate is much too weak of a word to describe my feelings for the Shittle Flounders.
    Infact I cannot even bring myself to really call the scum of the North by their real name.
    If you were ever at a Timbers away game in Shittle and saw the way that the Portland Fans were treated you may start to understand.

  20. […] the “True Fans” I’ve been mulling over the things I’ve written in my “screed of independence” (which continues to fill with comments now that the SoccerCity message board has found it) and have […]

  21. The city of Portland and the PTFC are better off without you. Move back to Shittle, or the east coast, or wherever you come from. Like Obi said, “Rose City til’ I die” is an anthem. We sing it to convey our pride. Our pride for the club, our fellow supporters, and the city we live in.

    You write (I use this term loosely, as you need to attend a class of Grammar 101) that many of us true supporters are transplants. You are correct in that statement. Many of us are. However, those of us who are transplants are not wishy-washy, fly by night, Shittle loving scum. That title belongs to you, and you alone.

    Please type “sounding” into Google. Read the definition, and feel free to “sound” your keyboard straight up your urethra. You will find it is a better use for said keyboard than what you have done with it.

  22. I love all of the ‘attempted England hooliganism angst’ that is going on in these posts.

    Really I do…

  23. I will never root for or support in any manner a seattle soccer team ever. I will never support or root for any soccer team named the sounders. I wouldn’t even travel there to support opposing teams as I would be giving money to seattle… never, never, never, with once exception, to ROOT FOR THE TIMBERS!!!

  24. You must be the same sort of sh*tbag that supports the Mariners and Seahawks because they are your “local” sports team. I suppose you also have a club you “support” in every f*cking league in Europe.

    Go back to Seattle. We don’t want you here in Portland any longer.

    Also, I truly hope you continue to reply to all of these comments.

  25. “When I root, I root for the Timbers!”

    You may note that there is no fine print in that chant.

    I agree with previous commenters…..call a spade a spade, dude. A Timbers fan would not support a Seattle club. Ever. Seriously. Really. This is not someone telling you what to think, it’s just a simple fact.

    So you’re a soccer fan. Congratulations. Have fun at Qworst!

  26. Well, I’ll do it just a little longer, Bourbon Crew…and, to think, we love the same kind of booze. God, I love the stereotyping at work in all these comments…build mental profile absent information and ATTACK!! ATTACK THE HERETIC!!

    But, for the record, no on all counts. I hate the NFL (boring), I follow baseball during the World Series only and, even then, out of one eye – but the Seattle teams don’t float my boat. I don’t support any clubs in Europe anymore, but only had one when I did – way back in my Euro Soccer neophyte days (1990s, when you could finally see the Euro leagues on TV without too much fuss). That was Liverpool, but I don’t watch them anymore (the EPL bores the hell out of me; same teams always win). When Liverpool, “my team,” won the Champions League, it didn’t even register. I guess I grew out of Europe once it became easier to watch an American league.

    And that’s kind of how I wound up with MLS. I left the Northwest in 1996 and wound up in DC; even back then every MLS game was televised; the same thing held when I moved to New England. By the time I moved back, I knew the league and players better; it’s still on TV and, with the Web, I can still follow MLS really easily. I tried with the Timbers this year, but, for financial reasons, I couldn’t make it to enough games to get swept up. Pretty straight-forward in the end.

    On top of being an MLS slut (no team as yet; just getting passed around), I folllow the National team – except a few of the friendlies. I love the World Cup, but really only follow the U.S.’s road to qualification. When I remember to do so (all of once thus far) I watch Fox Soccer’s weekly highlights show, but that’s mainly to keep current with players I’ll see when the Cup comes around. Call it half-assed scouting.and, really, that’s enough.

    Why this so offends people, I can’t imagine.

  27. Wow, not only are you a transplant, you are also a dense c**t. You are the type of guy to sit on your hands an call yourself an ultra. Well sir, I think you are Heather Armstrong in disguise… Go eat a fuckin Prawn Sandwich.
    RCTID
    GITC.

  28. “A prawn sandwich?” Jesus, that’s cliche. And you don’t need to type asterisks here; message board rules don’t apply. If you feel like calling me a cunt, just do it. And I’m looking and looking and looking, but don’t see where I called myself an “ultra.” I’m reading comment after comment about what being an ultra means and I know it doesn’t fit. This doesn’t disappointment me.

  29. Do you have any other fight except for “Imaginary England?” Yes, I was trying to be cliche and it worked. Do you not have any idea about the rivalry going all the way back to the NASL? Sounders-Timbers rivalry has been going on and off for about 30 years. If anybody gave a shit about the Sonics… Blazers and Sonics would be a larger rivalry. Even in the WHL. Winterhawks-T-Birds. The main reason the MLS thing bugs some of us (myself included), is the reasons people give Seattle for getting a team. They always say something about their fanbase… All 30 of ’em. The wonderful following they get from the city… Averaging around 3500 per game. The MLS sees this as killing two birds with one stone. Give Shittle a team, and everyone from around the area(Portland) will go and pump money into the system. So enjoy your “local” MLS team. Enjoy.
    GITC
    P.S. Nobody wants you to be a part of the army. Enjoy the Beer Garden.

  30. Jeff, lets admit it, you are a “casual” fan. You can voice your opinion all you want, but do not attack the “die hard” fan. Obviously you don’t know what it means to bleed your teams colors or live and die by every match.

    From what I have experience, and hope to continue, is that the Timbers Army is like a big family. Sure we hate Sh!ttle, but they are our rival what do you expect. Members of the TA are from all walks of life and where else can you find a comraderie like the one throughout the North End of PGE on match days.

    Just to let you know, I’m a transplant from Pittsburgh, PA and heck I don’t even live in Portland. But one thing I can tell you is that I love the mighty PTFC and the TA and every day I appreciate what they mean to the Rose City. I will NEVER root for an MLS side from up north. The PTFC and TA are part of the Rose City and everything it means so therfore RCTID.

  31. Alas…right into your trap…the pain.

    Ugh. Fer crissakes, I know all about the damn NASL days, Clive Charles’ retired jersey, the time the Cosmos came and Civic Stadium rocked, etc. etc. I doesn’t register with me. I wasn’t alive then; were you? If so, way to stick with it.

    As for the Portland/Seattle MLS debate, Portland kicks the holy crap out of Seattle for attendance; I got that memo as well. But I don’t think that decided the issue in the end. It was knowing that getting into PGE would be a pain in the ass, a total lack of interest/political support from the city government, and, in no small part the Timbers essential threat to boycott any team in the suburbs (yes, assume everyone shares my views and lifestyle and it will happen!).

    As for MLS viewing this as a two-bird, one-stone situation, I suspect you’re right. But the essential issue was decided by the difficulty of getting into Portland.

  32. “Eat a prawn sandwich” is more of an idiom. I, along with most top football publications and many, many football fans, find it a rather a useful figure of speech that characterizes a certain type of football spectator.

    On that note, Jeff, it sounds you are a “prawn sandwich eater.” Your comment above states you don’t follow any particular team, watch mainly the US qualification matches and Fox soccer highlights, and you’re currently searching for an MLS team (I’m assuming because MLS is the “big” domestic league of your country?). That doesn’t sound like a passionate football fan. It sounds like you would order a Prawn sandwich at a football match.

    I’ve got no problem with the city of Seattle. But preparing to support any club before doing a little research into how that club’s players, coaching staff, management, ownership and operational staff has interacted with your hometown team…well that’s just sad. It’s like supporting Juventus becasue they are the closest big team, rather than stepping back and thinking “Wait a second, this club has a questionable history. Do I really want to support them?”

  33. Whoops. Two points to elaborate:

    1) The PGE Park pain in the ass equation turns on PSU. I think working around the Beavers and “old-time” Timbers could be managed, but I don’t see how to shake PSU.

    2) for harmsway01, right, I don’t know what it means to bleed my teams’ colors. I watch the game a different way and get plenty of kicks; I won’t bore you with the details. But the “casual fan” thing doesn’t fit either. What kind of casual fan watches two-to-four games every week? What kind of casual fan reads and writes a stupid amount of copy based on only a casual interest. So, casual Timbers fan: guilty. Casual soccer fan? Nah. I just enjoy the game in a weird way.

  34. so you mean to tell me when city were in the championship in the 90’s, their fans were allowed to support man u? fuck off

    you really are so shitty its unbelievable

    and as for “ryan” above, were not poser hooligans, we just dont waver in our support like some gutless cunts (happy i said it?)

    something inside tells me your children (gender aside) have more ballocks than you

  35. If you read what I wrote, I never implied a casual soccer fan. As by my quote “bleed my teams colors” would mean being a die hard fan of a TEAM. Seems as if you read it, just didn’t think about what I was saying. I am glad you are a die hard soccer fan.

  36. Just because you weren’t born yet doesn’t mean anything. If you are a Yankees or Red Sox fan, just because you weren’t alive when the Babe got traded doesn’t mean you hate them any less… Does it? Same goes for any rivalry out there.

    Yes it would be a tremendous pain in the ass to get into PGE. If there was an investor who had the balls to bring a team to Portland, they would have to understand that it’s pretty much downtown or nothing. But if there was an investor who wanted it bad enough, they would find a way for PGE or buy a piece or property somewhere and build a SSS.
    I pray for Powerball every Wednesday and Saturday.
    GITC

  37. Nope. That’s a misintepretation, Bourbon Crew.

    I followed MLS from the beginning and watched the Sounders before that when I lived in Seattle (gasp! That’s why..). I’ve devoted years to the league, money to cable packages, etc. all while supporting the local soccer scene physically and financially in every city I’ve lived. This is just a simple love of the game; I stop and watch pee-wee soccer. Turning to the others, I drink only American lagers when at games, and have never purchased food in a stadium that wasn’t made of processed beef and placed between a bun, I’ve sat next to the Timbers Army through every game I’ve ever attended, but typically switch halves to be near the goal the Timbers are playing toward because I want to see the goals up close. I went to the beer garden once because it gave my kids room to roam and would never try to silence a fan section to save my kids’ ears; I would move with my kids.

    As for studying up, I could probably tell you more about the teams in MLS, whether historical or current, than most fans of the league. I can do a fair job with the A-League and USL, but, yeah, the NASL was before my time; I know a little, but not a ton. The point of that: MLS is a fairly cookie-cutter league; I know this. Every franchise in the country indulges in spasms of asshole-ism; many of them do on a consistent basis, which only tells me there are no saints. I’m very comfortable with what I know.

    The assumption that I’m some kind of yuppie/newbie is the weirdest vibe I’m getting out of this. Just keep reaching for the cliches (I can see it now, “Oh, he’s a ‘soccer dad.” That explains A LOT), but they don’t fit me any better than the ultra tag. I just like the game the way I like it.

  38. And, Green Is the Color, I’m praying that you win that lottery. The Timbers are best in PGE Park. My best-case is an MLS team in both cities.

    Anyway, it’s been fun, educational, I’ve been told my daughters have more balls than I do (though I think putting up with the abuse and holding fast is pretty ballsy), but I’ve got to stop answering these things. I know full-well you guys have a very lively chat board for this sort of thing and, believe me, you’re not accomplishing anything in this space. I’ll consume the “Timbers product” the same way I always have, secure in the knowledge my balls are working fine and hanging right where I left them.

  39. “This post has been a long time coming, something I’ve sat on because I didn’t want to listen to any kind of aftermath. The bile contained in it grows from swallowing the irritation of reading the silly shit inherent in the “true supporter” mentality.”

    You said it yourself, you knew what the aftermath would be like.

  40. Dang. OK, one more, because harmsway01 has a point. Yes, I did expect this aftermath. And, no, I don’t regret posting it – not even a little bit. Just keep letting me throw my money at the Timbers and we’re fine; it helps you and you won’t even know I’m there.

  41. “…and watched the Sounders before that when I lived in Seattle (gasp! That’s why..).”

    Yep. It all makes sense now. He’s part of the pod.

  42. can i make green/yellow/white tifo for shittle matches? please? and a banner that says “Timbers Sounders Supporters”? please.

    thank you kind sir, the terrorists have now won. Oh, how i love the Seattle Sounders Soccer Club. such passion, such … prawns, such … a joke.

    hows that ukranian chant go?
    Sink (Shittle) back into the (Sound), we’re better off without it!

    can i have all of your timbers swag since you wont need it anymore?

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