Timbers fans arrive at the first game in Colorado in 2011

What a difference a year and a bit makes.

Not that the Timbers have yet emerged from their expansion funk, especially on the road, but a look back to the first-ever Timbers Major League Soccer game on March 19, 2011 in Colorado reveals a team that you’d hardly recognize, even just 15 months later.

The starting lineup that day, and where they are now:

G: Adin Brown (retired, now doing Timbers broadcasts)
D: Steve Purdy (still with the Timbers, but has not played since April)
D: Eric Brunner (still with the Timbers, injured)
D: Kevin Goldthwaite (retired)
D: Rodney Wallace (still with the Timbers, injured)
M: Ryan Pore (released, not currently playing)
M: Jack Jewsbury (still with the Timbers, expected to start)
M: Peter Lowry (released, not currently playing)
M: Jeremy Hall (traded to Dallas for Eric Alexander in August, 2011)
F: Kenny Cooper (traded to New York after 2011 season)
F: Jorge Perlaza (traded to Philadelphia for Danny Mwanga in June, 2012)

So out of the starting 11 from the Timbers MLS opener last March, only four remain on the Timbers roster, and only Jack Jewsbury is likely to play as the Timbers return to Colorado 15 months later.

Kenny Cooper scored the lone Timbers goal in their MLS opener

In 2011, Timbers fans really didn’t know what to expect, though it was clear from that 3-1 loss in Denver last year that the Timbers were going to have to perform better on the road, as they only put a single shot on net the entire night, but fortunately it was a Kenny Cooper free kick that took a slight deflection and found the net for the first Timbers MLS goal. For reference, refer to the flip book you might have received last year at the gate.

But 15 months later, the Timbers have only won twice on the road, 1-0 wins in Chicago and Vancouver last year, and are 2-13-8 over their MLS history on the road. So road futility is something the Timbers have yet to overcome.

But of course this isn’t your typical expansion team. For most Timbers fans, the first year and a half of MLS play have been more about tradition, rivalries, and building the fan base, and in that respect, the Timbers have done very well. The Timbers have sold out every home game so far, and since they entered MLS, the Timbers have the best record in play between their traditional rivals, Seattle and Vancouver, with a 3-1-2 record so far.

So this weekend the Timbers come back to where it all started 15 months ago, with a chance to take care of one piece of important business, as Colorado is the only team the Timbers have yet to take a point from (the literal face-kicking in Montreal notwithstanding in the unbalanced 2012 schedule).

Only four of the players who started the MLS opener are still with the club

It’s been a remarkable time since the ball dropped on the first Timbers MLS game back in March 19, 2011, and there’s a lot to feel good about for Timbers fans, but eventually the Timbers are going to have to find a way to overcome their road woes, which along with their tendency to give up late leads, has been their Achilles heel in their MLS existence.

But a return trip to where it all started is as good a place as any to show how are the team has come in 15 months.

Here is the SoccerCityUSA match report from last year’s opener in Colorado: http://www.soccercityusa.com/timbers/col031911.htm

Photo galleries from 2011:
Training: http://www.soccercityusa.com/timbers/ptfc031811-pics.htm
Additional photos from the matchday: http://www.soccercityusa.com/timbers/col031911-morepics.htm

Timbers previews:
http://www.portlandtimbers.com/news/2012/06/matchday-preview-timbers-look-build-big-win-trip-colorado
http://www.portlandtimbers.com/news/2012/06/keybank-match-futty-danso-vs-conor-casey
http://www.portlandtimbers.com/news/2012/06/strongs-notes-beware-conditions