Timbers and Thorns play to raise money for Ukrainian aid

The final score doesn’t matter in the end.

The Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer and the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League joined forces to play a charity game on Wednesday night to benefit relief efforts in Ukraine.

The two teams raised more than $500,000 through the game, dubbed PTFC For Peace, which is donated to UNICEF. The two clubs have matched donations of up to $100,000, and additional funds will come from an auction of jerseys and other merchandise.

“It shows that this city is special and the fans here are amazing,” Thorns captain Christine Sinclair said. “To be there to play a game that’s bigger than yourself, bigger than your team, it’s amazing. I hope we will help change the lives of some people.

The mixed teams, made up of players from both teams, played two 30-minute halves and at the end all the players – including Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese and all the goalkeepers – were on the field to to mark. Wearing the colors of the Ukrainian flag, the yellow team held off the blue team 4-3.

“There are so many positives about tonight, but the most important thing is the cause,” Savarese said. “Just to be able to raise enough money to be able to support what’s happening in Ukraine, something very difficult, and then with that to have the Thorns and the Timbers play together, enjoy this night, see the smiles, so many people in the stands – it was very, very special.

Timbers veteran Diego Chara and Thorns defender Kelli Hubly captained the blue team, while Sinclair and Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco led the yellow team. A draft was held last week and both teams selected a mixed team from the two rosters. Blanco had to sit out due to injury but made his voice heard from the touchline. Chara was also unavailable for the match.

“So little can bring people together today, and it took something like that to make it an event. We kind of talked about playing together for years, now I have players from both teams coming see me and say, ‘Hey, we should make this a yearly thing and pick a charity, every year and do it’, and I’m like ‘Let’s make this happen’, it’s just one of the most special fun nights I’ve ever seen,” said Merritt Paulson, owner of Timbers and Thorns.

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Sandy A. Greer