The name Timbers was chosen for Portland’s nascent North American Soccer League (NASL) club via a contest in 1975. The Timbers, and the league, enjoyed hugely successful runs in the mid-70s before both petered out in the early 80s. The Timbers name resurfaced briefly in the Western Soccer Alliance from 1989 and 1990, but then for a decade Portland soccer fans twiddled their thumbs, waiting patiently for a team and league to see the obvious potential in Portland.
In 2001 a new Portland Timbers team joined the A-League (becoming the USL First Division in 2005, and USSF Division 2 in 2010). The team was moderately successful on the field, and the fan base grew quickly. By the end of the decade Portland consistently ranked near the top of the league in attendance.
And then, on March 20, 2009, Portland’s team owner Merritt Paulson was awarded an expansion Major League Soccer (MLS) team to begin playing in the 2011 season.
That team’s first MLS regular season match kicked off on March 19, 2011, when the Portland Timbers faced the defending MLS champion Colorado Rapids on the road.