MLS in Tucson Dave Ord: Sunshine, soccer has warming effect for fans

Group of 50 make noise for Portland in rivalry game
2013-02-06T00:00:00Z 2013-02-06T00:33:02Z MLS in Tucson Dave Ord: Sunshine, soccer has warming effect for fansDave Ord Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

In the 80th minute of Tuesday's soccer match, the members of the Timbers Army sang "You Are My Sunshine."

Although it could have been interpreted as a tribute to a glorious 70-degree day in which there were about as many clouds in the sky as there were good scoring chances for Seattle (which wasn't many), the singing of the ditty is a tradition.

There's no bucking tradition, even if you are in the warm climes of Arizona watching a preseason match rather than a sellout regular-season contest in the Pacific Northwest.

A group of about 50 or so flag-waving, hand-clapping, scarf-holding, chant-bellowing Portland Timbers supporters sat - actually, they stood most of the time - in the far section of the grandstand and made Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5 their temporary home.

On a day full of green, with Portland wearing forest-green jerseys and Seattle donning lime-green tops, they added color to an already-vivid rivalry match that ended with the Timbers claiming a 1-0 victory over the Sounders.

"I think this is the first time we've seen the sun since September," Portland resident Kathleen Anson said. Her husband, Corey, clarified it was a slight exaggeration.

The couple flew to Tucson just for the match. When they rented a car at the airport, there was one flaw.

"They asked us, 'Do you want green, blue or gray?'" Kathleen Anson said. "I said 'green, Timbers green.' And when we get out there, it's rave (lime) green. We were like 'lovely.'"

Brandelle Whitworth also traveled quite a ways to see her Timbers.

"When I left Idaho," Whitworth said, "it was 16 degrees and snowing."

The only flurries in Tuesday's match came during the opportunities Portland had on the Seattle goal in the second half. While the Timbers were playing their third match at Kino, Seattle was playing its first preseason game with quite a few regulars out sick.

"The fans are there, no matter where you are," Portland midfielder Darlington Nagbe said while the fans chanted "P-T-F-C" on the other side of the field. "A lot of the guys who haven't been on the team are surprised by it."

With first-year coach Caleb Porter and quite a few changes from last year's roster, the Timbers are climbing a steeper learning curve in the preseason.

And so are their fans.

"Normally, we'd get two or three new players, and before preseason starts, I'd have them all memorized," Kathleen Anson said. "But we've got so many (this year) that it's just a little bit of a jumble."

And that's all part of spring training, along with the sunshine that makes us happy even when skies aren't gray.

Up next

• What: MLS Desert Friendly

• Who: FC Tucson vs. Portland Timbers

• When: 11 a.m. Friday

• Where: Kino Sports Complex North Field No. 5

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