PORTLAND - The Timbers' all-time leading scorer sees a long future ahead for the modern, major-league version of his former team.
John Bain said the quality of the franchise and the stability of the league offer signs this version of the Timbers could thrive for decades to come.
I think it's here to stay this time, said Bain, whose 45 goals and 55 assists for the Portland Timbers from 1978-1982 still set the all-time mark.
A midfielder from Scotland, Bain arrived in the 1970s, playing for an almost experimental soccer league built mostly around European and South American players, he said.
Back then, Civic Stadium's field was green-carpeted concrete and you couldn't see people's shins on the other side of the field because it was kind of slanted, Bain said.
He said Timbers fans back then were sweetly enthusiastic, still embracing a new fad in an unfamiliar sport, often sitting politely in the stands, still learning how to track the game.
It wasn't the kind of atmosphere that you have today with the Timbers Army, said Bain. You never had everybody in the stadium basically standing the whole game to watch the game.
Today, of course, it's different.
Timbers fans are selling out games, clamoring to watch Major League Soccer, on their feet for the duration of the team's inaugural home opener at the newly-renovated, newly-named Jeld-Wen Field.
Bain said this soccer league is built with purpose around strong American players, complemented by well-placed imports. It's a lasting formula, he said.
Bain now coaches soccer in Portland and passes on his skills to his son, Cam. Last year, I got like a hat trick every other game, said Cam.
Bain expects new generations of soccer youth to fantasize about going pro.
Now you've got something to dream about. Now you've got the opportunity possibly to play for your local city.
It's a dream finally made possible, he says, by an emotionally and financially supportive fan base in 2011.
Bain predicts his scoring record won't last.
Hopefully, with the Timbers being around for the next century or so, that record's going to be broken pretty soon.