Portland’s Shenanigannery


Now if they threw an Xbox logo or picture of Montero up there that would have been different...

This is a guest post by frequent writer & US Youth Soccer expert Nick Sindt.

For those fans who believe that MLS needs an injection of personality, here you go.

The Portland Timbers (yes the same ones whose fans brought tears to our eyes with their rendition of You Are My Sunshine) have just fired the first MLS “shot across the bow” to their long-time archenemy the Seattle Sounders.

On their facebook page is a picture of this billboard, which is brilliant not only because the new franchise is claiming to be Soccer City, a nickname The Don gave to Seattle last year, but this billboard is also located near Qwest field, in Seattle.

If you’re not a Sounders fan, nor have you turned into your grandparents yet, you can probably appreciate this prank.

It reminds me of being a scheming troublemaker in high school; you know the one where teachers outwardly discourage your shenanigans, but deep down they smirk and laugh with you.

The Timbers take a cue from a young Feyenoord fan...

This stunt also sets Portland up to be the lovable badboy franchise this league so desperately needs.  Let’s look at some past attempts like this….crickets…oh yeah, DC United created that website about tradition and winning trophies prior to last year’s US Open Cup final against Seattle.

As far as smack-talking goes that was pretty lame version of the Scoreboard chant.  This is on par with re-painting your rival’s field with your colors, abducting their mascot, or simply planting a flag in their backyard.

Some may say this is an immature high-school stunt, while I stand up and applaud the youthiness (I’m making up words today).  As a fan of the game without a club to truly call my own, I will now pull for the Timbers when facing their neighbors to the north, and definitely will be tuning into those matches.

How will Seattle respond? Will they?

TSG “The Business Of Soccer” Take:

The infamous Tevez billboard...

Solid move here by the Timbers.

A common axiom in marketing is “you make your brand stronger by partnering or calling out a stronger brand” and being used in association with it.

Two examples here:  Starbucks coffee got their start by parttnering American Airlines (a higher rated airline at the time) and suggesting that their coffee was “business-class worthy.”

More recently and in soccer, Manchester City tried this tact with the infamous Carlos Tevez billboard in Manchester.

By calling out Seattle–and hoping that Seattle responds–the Timbers would be effectively using Seattle’s marketing dollars and clout to build their brand. A bigger marketing budget for sure.

Smart move…again…Timbers.

Same question is asked here, how will Seattle respond? Will they?

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laurie on 2010/09/10 at 8:42 AM

    Shenanigannery. My new favorite word.

    Seriously, though? To Seattlites, Portland is kind of like the kid brother who keeps interrupting quality time with your girlfriend/boyfriend by playing his music really loud and throwing popcorn in your hair. Or the mosquito who buzzes in your ear while you’re doing important work: Mildly annoying, but something you know you can stop with one good hard smack.

    Portland’s spends way too much time focusing on what Seattle thinks of them when in reality? We’re not thinking of them.

    “You’re in the MLS because of us!
    You’re in the MLS because of us!
    You’re in the MLS, you’re in the MLS
    You’re in the MLS because of us!”


    • Love this little ditty.

      I hope this is the beginning of a fun rivalry that will bring some unexpected viewership to this part of MLS. It would be awesome to see something like this discussed on ESPN’s SportsCenter wannabes like PTI and Around the Horn.

      I also read somewhere the Alaska Airlines (the Timbers new shirt sponsor) is Seattle based. I don’t consider that a coup since Seattle has XBox, but it is interesting that they are trying to really move into the Seattle Marketplace.


    • By the way, your kid brother is now an adolescent and is entering that stage where the pranks are better thought out. Pummeling them on the field and in the stands (with songs not fists) won’t shut them up so I’m hoping the Sounders front office has some things up their sleeve.


    • Posted by Doomtown Ultra on 2010/09/10 at 1:03 PM

      Wrong Shittle, we’re in the MLS because of us! No doubt Don Garber saw what was happening in PDX since 2001 and knew what the score was. And btw, the Sounders had billboards all over Portland prior to their 2009 start.



      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/09/10 at 1:06 PM

        Completely different paradigm on Seattle’s billboards.

        …in that Seattle was 2 hours away and drawing to an “MLS franchise” + Seattle having a bigger base in its own area to draw from.


      • Doomtown – Apologies for not digging deeper to find out that Seattle had instigated this billbaord turfwar, got any links to pictures of it?.


    • Posted by Doomtown Ultra on 2010/09/10 at 1:11 PM

      Aslo, kid brother? Portland was founded before Seattle. Look it up. I see it more as the Pretty popular sister vrs. the Smart nerdy sister. The popular one may be more ‘successful’ but the smart one is funner to hang out with…


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/09/10 at 1:39 PM

        Does Portland have a Napoleon-type syndrome against Seattle? A micro version of Canada vs USA or Scotland vs England?


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/09/10 at 4:13 PM

        I had no idea that the rivalry broke out in the commentary section here. Too funny….and great…and more….


        • Posted by Laurie on 2010/09/10 at 5:52 PM

          Oh, this is nothing. If you want to get a taste of the REAL rivalry, post a link to this post in the Timbers Army and ECS forums.


      • Posted by kaya on 2010/09/10 at 4:53 PM

        I thought that all Oregonians were too busy hating California for Portlanders to have time to bother with Seattle…


  2. As a fan of the game (and MLS), I love this move. It stokes the fire of a pre-existing and already heated rivalry to new heights.

    As a Sounders supporter, I also welcome it. Hopefully the Sounders respond in kind and continue to heat up this rivalry for all of its supporters. Although, I think we’ll be doing most of our talking…on the pitch.


  3. I can’t wait for that rivalry next year. It is going to be the best rivalry in MLS since DC-NY was actually cared about.


  4. Posted by Marmaduke on 2010/09/10 at 10:40 AM


    I think Seattle should (and will) respond. In business, the established brand probably won’t shoot back directly at some upstart. This is a sports rivalry, though. A fun back and forth helps both teams. The battle here isn’t to switch allegiances between teams as much as to grow the number of soccer fans in a region where MLS has just recently arrived.


  5. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/09/10 at 10:49 AM

    Back in the day (1970s?), didn’t the Portland Timbers have some shirtless bearded bloke with a chainsaw cutting up timber logs to get the crowd going? Brilliant. Pretty sure I read something about this in FourFourTwo a while back.


    • I think that was the original Timber Jim, not sure if the current Timber Jim is that same guy or not.


      • Posted by Laurie on 2010/09/10 at 5:46 PM

        Original Timber Jim retired a couple of years ago. Current guy is Timber Joey. Not the same thing at all.


  6. Posted by kaya on 2010/09/10 at 11:21 AM

    Sweet move. I didn’t know Portland cared what Seattle thought of it, love Portland and all its beeriness… I wish the Quakes would get in on the northwest insultury. Hooray for the left coast.


    • Posted by Laurie on 2010/09/10 at 5:50 PM

      Kaya, with Portland and Vancouver entering the league, the four teams — Seattle, Portland, Vancouver and San Jose — will be part of the Heritage Cup between the original NASL teams. Not sure you’ll get the full benefit of the rivalry, but you should see at least a part of it.


  7. Posted by John on 2010/09/11 at 9:32 AM

    Kids, Kids….

    Let’s settle this simmering discontent down, as we can’t play the games till next season.

    I support that in order to temporarily put a tombstone on this conversation (till the 2011 MLS season begins) that we have OUR basketball team take on their…. oh…. er….

    See you in 2011 Seattle?



  8. […] as we spoke about in our Portland-Seattle post a few months back, it’s imperative to always partner with a strong brand. The best way to […]


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