How Portland Became Soccer City USA
Attend a soccer game at Providence Park and you may hear people chanting, “We are the Rose City, the mighty PTFC!” Thousands of supporters flock to the park on match days to watch the Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns FC take to the pitch, competing in a sport that is beloved by many in the Pacific Northwest. From the athletes, to the fans, to the many events that have shaped “Soccer City USA,” We are the Rose City! A History of Soccer in Portland, now on exhibit at the Oregon Historical Society, explores the history of professional soccer in Portland and the cultural context of the game.
Portland entered the professional soccer world in 1975, when the Timbers took to the field at Civic Stadium for the first time — and the city fell in love. 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the Timbers joining Major League Soccer (MLS), and Portland’s love continues to grow. The two-time National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) champion Portland Thorns played their first season in 2013. The Thorns boast an impressive history, sending multiple players to represent the U.S. in the Olympics and the World Cup.
One of the most iconic aspects of Portland’s soccer culture are the fans — including the Timbers Army and the Rose City Riveters — that fill Providence Park with a deafening roar on match days. This is an exhibit about soccer, but it is also one about community — the community of Portland and its love of the world’s game.
Through storytelling and rare objects loaned by the clubs and fans, visitors to the exhibit will learn about the many milestones in Portland’s 45 years professional soccer history. Highlights include:
- A photo op with a chainsaw on loan from Timber Joey and a log slice that is a portion of the Victory Log from the 2019 season.
- Nearly 300 hanging scarves of unique design, and the original sketch of the iconic No Pity scarf.
- An original tifo banner featuring the exhibit title made by the 107IST.
- The form distributed in newspapers statewide to nominate the name for what became the Timbers in 1975.
- The NASL certificate that granted the Timbers a franchise.
- A Diego Valeri-autographed ball from the Timbers’ 2015 championship game, in which he scored a goal in the first 27 seconds of the game. He donated the ball to the 107IST.
- Rings from soccer legend Clive Charles (signifying his coaching the 2000 Summer Olympics U.S. men’s team and the University of Portland championship women’s soccer team in 2002).
- Soccer Universe graphic, showing the interconnectivity of more than 600 soccer entities, including youth, high school, college, semi-professional, and professional teams across the state.
With the MLS and NWSL seasons well underway, a visit to We are the Rose City! is the perfect way to support Portland’s professional soccer teams.
“As stadiums continue to welcome fans back to cheer on our home teams, We are the Rose City! reminds us all of the many milestones Portland soccer has had both on and off the pitch,” said OHS Executive Director Kerry Tymchuk.
For those unable to visit the museum in person, OHS invites you to enjoy a “virtual tour” of the exhibit with curators Libby Provost and Morgen Young and former Portland Timbers player Mick Hoban.
Plan Your Visit -
Current Hours: The Oregon Historical Society’s museum is currently open Tuesday – Friday from 12pm – 5pm, Saturday from 10am – 5pm, and Sunday from 12pm – 5pm (closed Monday). Hours are subject to change; please visit ohs.org/visit before your visit for current hours and visitor policies.
Location: 1200 SW Park Avenue, Portland 97205
Admission: $10; discounts are available for students, seniors, teachers, and youth. Admission is free every day for OHS members and Multnomah County residents.