The Portland Timbers eked out a 1-0 victory against a resilient Real Salt Lake at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday night, extending their home-win streak to three.
The game’s lone goal came when the Timbers' Kenny Cooper tapped in a brilliant cross from Kalif Alhassan in the 22nd minute.
As is the custom, the north side of the stadium exploded when the Timbers scored. The Timbers Army let off smoke bombs and broke into one of many chants that are new to the 2011 Major League Soccer season. The noise was deafening.
Sitting in the southwest corner of Jeld-Wen was Lenny Foster and a group of his fellow Real Salt Lake brethren. Foster, a 30-year-old medical technician from Boise, Idaho, made the trip to Portland with his friends to support his club. “It has been a long couple of months,” he said at half time. “I’m hoping for a draw. I think we can come back with a goal and draw 1-1.”
That goal never came, but it was not without a lack of trying.
In the 72nd minute, Portland Timber Jeremy Hall was booked with a yellow card that led to a Real Salt Lake set piece from twenty-five yards out. The Timbers managed to hold on with goalkeeper Troy Perkins stopping a barrage of solid second-half attempts.
Up in the west stands sat David Stout and Jen Currie with their three kids, ages 14, 10 and 8. Saturday was Currie's birthday (she wouldn't say how old she was) but a Timbers win would make a great present. Both Currie and Stout coach soccer. Taking their kids to Timbers games is something of a tradition. “We try to come to as many games as possible,” Stout said. “We’ve been coming to games for about three years now.”
While what takes place on the pitch may be a gentleman’s game, what takes place in parts of the stands is anything but.
Behind the east goal the fans were exuberant. “Hey keeper! You suck balls!” yelled one woman at Real Salt Lake goaltender Nick Rimando. Others in the section near the Multnomah Athletic Club hurled insults at Salt Lake players that hit where it hurts—cursing their mothers.
Real Salt Lake had one last chance in stoppage time with a corner that was not destined for the back of the net. Three whistles came in the 93rd minute, and the Timbers along with their fans celebrated the victory with relief.
Rocky Smith, a 63-year-old building products salesman, rode a free shuttle bus back to Portland’s southeast side. “I love soccer and I enjoy any game—even the games my granddaughter plays in," Smith said. "This tonight was premium soccer."