BY Stanley Holmes 01:41PM 12/30/2010

A view from the stands of the Timbers

A Timbers Army official shares his view of how the MLS Portland Timbers are shaping up.

A view of the rebuilt PGE Park in Portland

In the early days of the Portland Timbers, which joined the North American Soccer League in 1975, the Timbers started a rather unique game-day tradition that will shock some of the suits in Major League Soccer – the cutting of the “log slab.”

After each home-goal scored by the Timbers, Timber Joey cuts a round from the victory log behind the north goal. Amidst a cloud of sawdust and the ear-splitting roar of a chainsaw, the Timbers supporters create a celebratory scene equally as emotional as anything ultra groups in Madrid, Belgrade and Rome could put on. Let’s remember, the Portland supporters are civilized and do not break the law. They just like to hear their chainsaws roar.

Garrett Dittfurth, a board member for the 107ist of the Timbers Army, was not present during those heady NASL days. But he knows they were a good team — they produced three playoff seasons (1975, 1978 and 1981) and found themselves in the 1975 Soccer Bowl. Crowds reaching 20,000 per game were the norm, back in the day.

Dittfurth has been following the Timbers since 2004. The club has been playing in the United Soccer League for 10 seasons, posting eight winning seasons and advancing to the playoffs seven times. The Timbers captured the USL First Division Commissioner’s Cup as the regular-season champion in 2004 and 2009.

We asked Dittfurth to share his thoughts about the new MLS  version of the Timbers. He is no doubt pumped for the new start, and you can bet he’ll try to make his voice louder than Timber Joey’s chainsaw. Here are Dittfurth’s views from the stands:

How are the supporters feeling about the team that Gavin Wilkinson and John Spencer are putting together?

The general feeling of the supporters is that we have confidence in Gavin and Spencer to make the right moves to put together a team that will be competitive from day 1 and for many years to come. At this point I think everyone is standing by waiting to see more moves to figure out the way the team will look.

How would you describe the team? More defensive? More offensive? Younger? Older?

At this point the team assembled has largely focused on younger defensive players. With the exception of Ryan Pore and Eddie Johnson, there hasn’t been much focus put on the offense yet and Gavin and Spencer have shied away from older players.

Can the Timbers compete for a playoff spot with the roster it has now?

Right now I think anyone can compete for the playoffs since (MLS Commissioner Don) Garber expanded the playoffs to 10 teams. I think the team needs a lot more work before we can really say too much about how competitive the team will be.

Who are the top players?

As of now I would say Troy Perkins, Rodney Wallace, Kerrea Gilbert, and keep an eye on Kalif Alhassan.

What was the reaction of acquiring Troy Perkins and watching local favorite Steve Cronin leave?

For the most part people realize it’s a business and the point is to make the team better. Cronin is a great shot stopper because he puts himself in the right place to stop shots and generally makes it look easy playing goal. His distribution is at times abysmal. He improved towards the end of the year but that was an obvious sore point. As far as a man in the community and his relationship with the fans, he is tops. DC is very lucky to be getting a player of his character. I think we are lucky to be able to upgrade our goalkeeper.

What kind of team is Spencer trying to mold? How would you describe it? Gritty? defensive? Explosive?

I think they’re trying to create a gritty attacking team. Much in the mold of Spencer as a player.

Are you happy with the kind of players that Spencer is assembling, so far?

So far I am satisfied. I am going to withhold judgment until I see some of the future signings Gavin and Spencer have mentioned being in the works.

What kind of culture and style of play surrounded the Timbers in USL-1?

The team under Gavin was focused on defense. The last 2 years we scored a lot of goals but the focus was defense. Gavin was a defensive player and the team was definitely a reflection of him.

Will the MLS Timbers be an attacking team? Or more defensive?

Spencer has said he wants to build an exciting attacking team and (Timbers owner) Merritt Paulson has said that is the type of team he wants to have, so I assume the focus will shift to the offensive side moving forward. At this point, I would say we’re defensive but that is subject to change with the future signings and draft picks.

What is the consensus thinking on Ryan Pore? He seems to be popular local figure who scored lots of goals in USL-1. Can he do it at MLS level?

I think that’s still a question mark. I personally feel the time Ryan has spent in USL-1 has given him the confidence to go back to MLS and score goals. I don’t think he’ll be as prolific of a scorer as he has been in USL but I think he’ll have success.

What do you think has been the best player, or players, acquisition?

So far I would say that Kerrea Gilbert and Rodney Wallace have been our best acquisitions. This is subject to change once I see some of the future acquisitions.

In early December SportsPress Northwest Video Director, Noel Zanchelli toured the stadium and observed the construction. Here is the video from his tour.