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In the trenches: Portland

Dan Califf ensures supporters make the long trip home happy
Dan Califf ensures supporters make the long trip home happy
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The farthest this examiner had ever traveled in covering/supporting the Goats was Salt Lake City. That particular trip took 12 hours. Not to mention the loss of one hour due to entering the Mountain Standard Time zone. While one didn’t have to cross a time zone to get to Portland, the extra 5 hours and a bad case of the runs certainly made the trip feel longer than it should have. Granted, the bridges, mountain ranges, plains, rivers and lakes were a wonder for the eye to see.

The Goats came into this past Saturday’s match with two straight wins over the Portland Timbers. One away in Portland earlier this year, and the other a couple of weeks ago at the Home Depot Center. The Timbers had lost 4 in a row, and were hoping to change their fortunes. In their only visit to JELD-WEN Field last year, the Goats had come away on the opposite end of a 1-0 scoreline.

Arriving in Portland the day before the match allowed the traveling supporters from the Black Army to get to know their surroundings. With a light-rail station across the street that lead straight to the stadium, we were off to explore. All in all, a nice city. One that seems knowledgeable in regards to its local MLS team based on the amount of team gear one can purchase almost anywhere, and fans eager to talk about the team/engage in friendly banter. Of course there will be a jerk every now and then no matter how well things go. But we can’t judge an entire fanbase on the sayings of one person. Still, the expedition into the city gave us in the group an idea of what to expect the following day.

Riding the train from the Red Lion Inn, the Black Army chanted the ride away to the surprise of many Timbers supporters on board.

This is the loudest I’ve heard away supporters on the train ever”, said a passenger wrapped in a Timbers Army scarf.

And so the chanting continued right up to 10th street and Morrison, where everyone got off and marched to the stadium. Going right past the Timbers Army entrance made for an entertaining, if not explicative laden conclusion to the march.

As for the match itself, this examiner thought back to a question asked on the trip up to Portland: “What are your predictions for the match?”

It’s going to be a 1-0 undeserved win for Chivas USA”.

By the time the 1st half was over Portland should have been up at least 4 or 5 to nothing. Many failed offside’s traps and superior passing from the opposition could very well have done the Goats in. But a nice save here and there along with plain bad luck up top for the home team meant everything was all square going into the half at 0-0.

The start of the 2nd half was more of the same. While the traveling Goats supporters section sang loud, and often, The Timbers were having as bad of a day as possible. And just when it seemed that Portland might break through, Dan Califf connected with header off a Ben Zemanski free kick to put the Goats up 1-0. Pandemonium ensued in section 223 of Jeld-Wen Field. How long the lead would last was anyone’s guess. But for now the flags waved, hands were clapped and vocal cord limits were put to the test.

Unable to see the match clock from our seats, many were left wondering exactly when the match would end. Emotions can get riled up more than normal when one has no idea how much time as passed, or how much time is left.

This examiner stood by his prediction of an undeserved win as the players applauded the traveling contingent of supporters. At no point in this match should the Goats have had a lead. One almost felt sorry for the Timbers and their fans. So many losses lately and so many chances to win on the night. The wrong team won that night. Regardless of this examiners personal feelings, the feeling of joy, and relief (more so relief rather than joy) spread about our section as our team had gotten 3 vital points on the road.

With the match in the rearview mirror, it was time to head back home the following morning. Departing at 11am, we wouldn’t arrive back at our original point of origin until 5am the day after. It was a long grueling trip that saw us pass dormant volcanos, towns named after medicinal drugs, no sales tax, and farm fields that went on forever. A trip that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

With that said, the Goats now prepare for the 3rd and final encounter against their neighbors this season. Things are even at the moment with each team winning one match a piece. But goal differential currently favors the other team. Kickoff is scheduled for Sunday August 12th at 8pm.

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