the dream of lifting the cascadia cup as the sounders visit the jw this saturday is not an unattainable dream. after all, the timbers have already beaten the fish from up north and they did it rather convincingly. as it stands, the timbers lead the race for the cascadia cup with 7 points, and with a win tomorrow they can lift the only piece of silverware likely to grace the cabinets for the conceivable future.
like many of you, i have been obsessively waiting for saturday. while I know mrs sunshine would like to believe my anxious nature of the last few days is attributable to my anticipation of the mt angel oktoberfest, and i will support that misconception as long as i possibly can, she is an intelligent girl and will surely suss out the fib come saturday morning. i am sure i will have to assuage her disappointment with fried jam filled balls of goodness and elephant ears, but those are the sacrifices one must make for a happy marriage.
but what she does not understand are the hours i suffered with magadh in seattle as we watched a our local boozer infiltrated by idiots in face paint and blue/green plastic wigs. the isolation two portland boys felt as they saw one of their arsenal heros kit up for a bunch of johnny-come-lately know-nothings, was unbearable. it was within those painful days of watching mls awarded to a city obsessed with itself where we grew even closer than we already had been.
even more unbearable was the hopeless reality we both may be stuck living in seattle through the bule craze. having suffered their supporters firsthand, it was clear they had more in common with hardcore chelsea supporters (do they really exist?) than any fan who actually followed football. and by football, i mean football, not that awful sport they insist on wearing pads and taking time outs every 3 seconds. but that is the basis these supporters have to judge their awful side. it should come as no surprise their colors reflect the seahawks colors so well—it makes for an easy wardrobe transition come fall. and that is where their dedication to football tends to end.
after finding my escape back to Portland i joined our fishy friend up north for a sounders game. it was his attempt to get me interested in the mls game as well as enjoy some time together—regardless of his football affiliation, he is a good fella. that day, the sounders played the galaxy as a strange scent of regurgitated hotdog accented the already foul air blowing in from puget sound. the smell seemed completely normal to the those sitting near and around the brougham end, so i accepted it as how they did things in seattle–the tailgating must have been exceptionally good that day and several of the seahawks supporters were simply expressing how well the early fare had treated them. however, after the first few minutes of stench, i realized the source of the odor was coming from the fellas seated next to me. evidently it was not regurgitated hotdog but the pungent scent of beer and tailgate escaping through the barricade of teeth and beard of the bro-dude two seats down. while their laughter was uncontrollable, my mood soon turned as sour as his breath.
there is a thread of idiocy that runs through the genetic code of all johnny-come-latelys or sounders fans. it often consists of an inexplicable ability to talk incessantly about something for which they have limited understanding. these two fellas were not going to be an exception to that unknown rule. they blathered on about football and soccer and how the rules were so very similar and how it was so great the sounders became a soccer team and that seattle finally got a soccer team and how the sounders are great because when football is over they can now watch something else. at that point, I was unable to determine whether my nausea was from bro-dude’s breath or the ignorance that spewed out along with it. this continued through the first half and i exercised a great amount of restraint while entertaining waking dreams of curbing them and then urinating on their twitching bodies while assuming a captain morgan pose.
then the incident occurred. it was not an incident likely memorable to any of the 32000 idiots packed into whatever they named that stadium that year, but it was one that still bothers me and sets the bar for my opinion of all seattle supporters. after a poor casey keller clearance, sebastien le toux was holding up play at midfield to bring his teammates into the match. he was taken out rather harshly by some galaxy player and the crowd was unhappy. to be fair it was a rough tackle but in no way could it be awarded what bro-dude requested with no hint of ironic desperation. after le toux had hit the turf and had rolled around in mock despair, bro-dude stands up, and without any sense of how stupid he was, yelled “PENALTY! THAT’S A FUCKING PENALTY!”
often when i am confronted with the feeling of disbelief the world shuts off, ends, it does not work for a good 10 seconds. and then silence. it is during that moment of nothing i tend to gather my thoughts and really think about what has just occurred. i may do this because i am in shock. i may do this because i am presently unable to register what just happened. regardless of the reasons, when i smelled/heard what came from that bro-dude, i had to ask myself what i had just stepped into. i looked at anfield 89 and asked him “did he just yell for a penalty? are you kidding me?! did he just yell for a penalty?! these are the type of people you, YOU, want to watch football with?!?!”
i know the type of people i want to watch football with. i spend a lovely bit of purse every year to do so. i have chosen my people. i have chosen my family. i know when i step out of the 209-210 tunnel and into that cathedral, i am going to experience something as close to an apotheosis as i may ever touch. i am surrounded by people who understand the game, who live the game, and who suffer through the game as i live and suffer through the game. we have not chosen a side because they are able to buy the most expensive players, the best coaches, or because they win more games. we have chosen the timbers because within each of us there is more than just a sense of the underdog, the weirdo, there is an appreciation for a person’s effort.
given the way this season has transpired what the timbers faithful only have is the appreciation of the effort on the pitch. tomorrow, i expect the effort to be there, whether the result happens i cannot predict. frankly, i was wrong the last time and i hope to be wrong again. but beyond any of that, there is this desire to see the searing smugness kicked off the faces of those johnny-come-latelys as the timbers lift the Cascadia cup. so often players will suggest they won a cup for the fans and i regularly think how nice it is they have lied about their motivation. but tomorrow, if that cup is raised, it should be for the fans and the support we have given as we have endured a difficult and frustrating sophomoric season.