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Portland Timbers, Thorns play charity match to raise money for Ukraine relief efforts

The Timbers and Thorns shared the soccer pitch for the first time Wednesday to help children and families affected by the war.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers and Thorns shared the soccer pitch at Providence Park for the first time Wednesday for a charity match to raise money for relief efforts in Ukraine.

More than 16,000 fans filled the stadium, helping raise more than half a million dollars in donations as they watched the mixed-team "PTFC for Peace" match. The money will go to UNICEF USA to help families and children affected by the war.

“We've been providing mobile medical supplies, medicine, hygiene kits, clean water. We have mobile medical teams that are serving people that are displaced from their homes,” said UNICEF USA president and CEO Michael Nyenhuis.  

Yellow and blue filled the stadium and the Ukrainian National Anthem was performed before kickoff. 

“It's kind of emotional,” said Thorns fan Juliet Buckley, fighting back the tears. “This city and these teams, we stand up for things.”

RELATED: Portland couple opens home to help Ukrainian family fleeing war zone

Ukrainian referee Sergii Demianchuk still has family in the war zones overseas, including his parents. Being part of this match was a way for him to help his home country.

“It's my duty because I'm 10,000 miles away from my people, my parents, my friends. If I can do something to help them, it's a pleasure for me. It's a blessing," Demianchuk said. 

The roar of the crowd erupted with each goal. Timber Joey nailed a rose to the traditional log slab each time a ball found the back of the net, symbolizing the two clubs coming together. 

RELATED: 'They've lost everything': Couple returns from humanitarian trip to Ukraine

“To have the Thorns and Timbers playing together, enjoying this night, seeing so many smiles, so many people in the stands, this was something that was very, very special,” said Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese. 

During the final minutes of the match, the benches for both clubs rushed the pitch to play in the match at the same time, united for a greater cause.

“The fans here, the city, this organization never fails to amaze us,” said Thorns captain Christine Sinclair. “Hopefully we raised a lot of money and were able to change some people's lives. I know as a player, this was a lot of fun. You felt like a kid again.” 

A release from the Timbers said the club, fans and partners raised a combined $500,000 and counting, which includes a $100,000 donation from the club for UNICEF’s relief efforts in Ukraine and bordering countries. 

The final donation tally is ongoing through May 5 with an auction available now at www.PTFC.givesmart.com with game-worn shirts from the event and other items including flags and the game ball.

“It's just amazing and so special. So few things can bring people together today and it took something like this to make this event,” said club owner Merritt Paulson. “It's just one of the most special nights I've ever seen.”