What Happens When Your City Hosts the MLS Cup

From Morrison Bridge lights to custom Voodoo Doughnuts, it’s beginning to look a lot like Timbers all over Portland.

By Margaret Seiler December 9, 2021

Even if you don’t follow soccer, even if you haven’t seen the headlines about our local men’s team in the championship, even if you think the MLS Cup is an award for the best master of library science, it will be hard to miss the green and gold around Portland this weekend when the Timbers face New York City FC at noon on Saturday at Providence Park. It’s the Timbers’ third time in the championship game, but the first time Portland has gotten to host.

Timber Joey spent Wednesday morning, December 8, with volunteers on a litter pickup around Providence Park organized by SOLVE. At noon on Thursday, December 9, the 72-hour countdown begins with Timber Jim and Timber Joey on hand at Providence Park for the “Victory Log Arrival and Blessing.” At 5 p.m., Timber Joey will be at Pioneer Courthouse Square for the unveiling of a 15-foot-tall, 1,500-pound replica of the Philip F. Anschutz Trophy, while two local chainsaw artists carve their own model out of a four-foot log.

When the championship game happens in Portland, it's a busy week for Timber Joey.

The Morrison Bridge, which is often lit in custom colors for anything from a local high school graduation to Prince's birthday, will be bathed in Timbers colors through Saturday night. Look for tall buildings, the Moda Center, and the Oregon Convention Center spires to take a break from their holiday color scheme in favor of green and gold, as well.

At PDX (including in the newly opened Concourse B) and on TriMet, expect to see signage welcoming out-of-town fans and national media to Soccer City, USA. At Voodoo Doughnut, a cake doughnut with green and gold sprinkles will make a special appearance. There's also a local contest to have the team cover the cost of your Timbers tattoo from local tattoo artist Igor Morris at TigerLily. (Deadline to enter is 2 p.m. December 9, with the inking scheduled to happen before the game.)

While it's the first time the MLS Cup game has been in Portland, it's not the first time Providence Park has hosted a major league soccer final. The National Women's Soccer League championship (which, unlike the MLS version, is held at a preplanned site) was here in 2015 and 2018, and Portland was originally set to host again this year before the game was moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where it could be played at the more civilized time of noon instead of 9 a.m. local time, to fit into the CBS television slot.

The MLS Cup final airs at noon Saturday, December 11, on KATU (ABC). If you don't already have tickets and want to go, prepare to encounter some price gouging on the resale market. On Thursday morning, the cheapest seat shown on Seatgeek was $440 plus $110 in fees, which the ticket seller rated as an "Amazing Deal."