You're drinking a Widmer Brothers Green & Gold Kolsch and everyone is keenly focused on the beautiful game being played on the pitch below. You're not in Brazil, however, or at any World Cup match. You're in Portland—Soccer City, USA—at Providence Park and you're cheering for the Portland Timbers. The venue might not be as large, but the experience is World Cup-worthy.
I'm a season-ticket holder, but I have to admit that joining in all the Timbers Army songs and chants is as fun as watching the games themselves. Download the TimberSong iPhone app (free) to learn chant lyrics or follow along with your neighbors (plenty are easy to master). If you're lucky, we'll do the most visible chant while you're there; sung to the tune of the theme from Tetris, it involves the entire north end jumping back and forth along their rows.
Established in 1975, the Portland Timbers joined Major League Soccer in 2011 and quickly earned an international reputation for the league's most passionate fan atmosphere. The general admission section at the north end of the downtown stadium is home to the Timbers Army, the team's most ardent supporters, who stand, cheer, clap and sing for 90 straight minutes. If the Timbers aren't ahead at the end of regulation, the crowd cheers even louder during extra time.
For the full fan experience, join the Army. The Timbers’ silver-helmeted mascot, Timber Joey, carries an idling chainsaw around the stadium and no one bats an eye. He uses it to cut a slab from the “victory log” for every Timbers goal.
The Timbers Army isn't going soft when it sings “You Are My Sunshine” in the 80th minute. There's a story here. In 2004, then-mascot Timber Jim's daughter was killed in a car accident. At his first game back, holding his granddaughter, Jim led the Army in a chorus of “You Are My Sunshine”—his daughter's favorite lullaby for her daughter—and the Timbers scored a goal in a critical game. The song has been a fixture of the 80th minute ever since.
Ticket prices start at $27.50 for the Timbers Army section, but games are nearly all sold out before the season starts (there's been a season-ticket waiting list since 2011). You can find resale tickets on StubHub, but beware of often-inflated prices. The Timbers Army manages a strict no-scalpers-allowed ticket-exchange group on Facebook.
Jessica Spiegel is a card-carrying member of the 107ist, the Timbers Army Independent Supporters Trust. By day, she's a freelance travel writer, social media consultant and singer who loves Italy, pho, Sazeracs and tattoos.
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3) Get a World Cup-Style Soccer Experience in the U.S.