2014: #SpaceNeedleAway

 Posted by on May 12, 2014  Away Travel, Events  9 Responses »
May 122014
 

Join the Riveters in Seattle on July 27th when the Thorns take on the Reign. In their house.

Purchase your seat on a bus here.

The Riveters have 2 buses going to the Seattle Center to help the Thorns bring 3 points back to the Rose City. We have 100 tickets to the match, and want to get even more! We won’t do that unless there is demand, though, so please buy your tickets on our bus and in the Riveters section early, so we can plan for the right amount of supporters.

The timeline:

  • 10:30am  – Buses will be loaded and we will depart from the north side of the Convention Center (on NE Holladay Street). Please arrive a few minutes early, as we want to leave as soon as everyone is on their bus! ** There will be 1 stop on the way at a rest stop.
  • 2pm – Arrive at the Seattle Center and enter Memorial Stadium.
  • 4pm – Kickoff
  • 6:30pm – Depart for the Rose City. **There will be 1 stop on the way at a rest stop.
  • 11pm – Arrive back at the Convention Center

We have 3 different options for joining the Riveters at the match. Please know that all sales are final.

  • Bus ticket/match ticket combo – You will be given your ticket as you board the bus at the Convention Center
  • Match ticket only – Please meet up with the Riveters at Memorial Stadium at 2pm to get your ticket.
  • Bus ticket only – You may have beat us to the punch and already purchased your ticket. We have a seat on the bus with your name on it.

And, finally, a few notes/rules about Riveters Away Travel:

  • NO GLASS ALLOWED ON THE BUS. While we are allowed to bring food and drink (adult beverages are way okay), you are not allowed to have glass containers. Please plan accordingly.
  • NO #2 ON THE BUS!! The bathroom on the bus has a very small storage tank!! We will be stopping at a rest stop about 1/2 way through the drive. Or, about 90 minutes in.
  • There are no age restrictions in the Riveters or on our buses. If you’re a party of 1, coming with friends, or want to make it a trip for the whole family, please join us!!
  • Memorial Stadium allows flags, banners and 2-sticks. Please leave all noise makers at home, though. Those will not be allowed into Memorial Stadium.
  • Bring food and drink. Keep glass at home. Clean up after yourself. Keep an eye on each other. We all want to have fun.

Questions? Ask in a comment! Feedback? Provide it in a comment!

We have 10 weeks until we see them again. Let’s get ready.

#BAONPDX

Apr 212014
 

So this past week we’ve all been discussing this piece from Juliet Macur in the New York Times and ranting about how badly the author missed the mark. Our type of supporters had been ignored, deemed irrelevant, as if nothing we’d done since the league started to promote our passionate supporter culture had made any impression. Shortly after the NYT piece came out, Texas supporter Dana Crane posted an op-ed piece on The Soccer Desk site, and we nodded our heads furiously, seeing her take on Macur’s assertions one by one and dismantle them with real-life positive counterexamples. Among those examples were us, the Rose City Riveters.

The same Riveters who, in my opinion, just failed to bring it in New Jersey against Sky Blue, despite overwhelming numbers in the stands supporting Portland Thorns FC and not the home team.

So what the hell happened there and what can we learn from it?

This was the local hype leading up to our trip to support the Thorns against Sky Blue in New Jersey. H and I traveled from Portland and brought a couple of local fans in with us. A boatload of other Thorns supporters— some players’ friends and families, but also Paul Riley’s youth soccer club from Long Island—promised “the potential for a loud away crowd.” Families of Thorns players from around the area tailgated in the parking lot and invited us over for food and drinks. Allie Long’s boyfriend grilled burgers. Amber Brooks’s awesome mom fed us sandwiches and beers and cookies and fruit salad. Courtney Niemiec’s people gathered around another vehicle with their own coolers. There weren’t very many Sky Blue fans around. It seemed like maybe we were collectively going to rock the place. Our house, in the middle of Jersey.

Inside, though, that illusion blew apart quickly. Inspirational girl pop played over the PA. The kids of the soccer club had been instructed by email to wear their own club’s jerseys, “does not matter what color or type”; though some of them were in tune enough with the Thorns to have chosen red and white, many hadn’t bothered. Alongside the club kids, the stands were packed from end to end with other young girls and their mostly uninterested parents. At one point before the match, Alex Morgan toured the pitch smiling and waving like a pageant winner. The trio of preteens in the bleachers above ours gushed and fawned when she went by, and I commented how funny it was that they’d brought her here to just walk around even though she won’t be playing probably for months. They looked at me like I had three heads.

Since we weren’t allowed to have poles in the venue, we hung our flags up front. We had a Riveters crest travel banner, Portland city flags, a rainbow Cascadia. Nobody stopped us, but security did come over and make us re-hang them lower on the rails so kids could see over them at autograph time. Nobody asked us what any of it signified. Apart from some of the players, I’m pretty sure no one knew.

ipads2We had a travel drum, a cowbell, some claves. Our section and the adjacent one were both full of away fans, so we stood toward the front where we could lead chants and have both the team and people in the bleachers hear us. Bleacher seats were technically assigned, and a whiny mother complained until we moved and made way for her and her kids. Everyone around us sat. The announcer advertised the local Olive Garden.

We sang and raised our scarves during the anthem. People looked at us. We drummed and chanted. People moved away. We looked up pleadingly at our two locals, one of them an old-school Timbers fan, and begged them to make noise and sing with us. They gave us a pained, helpless look and put the claves back in the drum bag. We decided to try just singing without the drum. We sang Onward. No one joined in. Our locals moved into the next section and sat where they could see the game better. We stopped playing and singing and started agonizing about how we were letting the team down, how terribly we were failing the rest of our group watching the live stream. I started live-tweeting miserably. It all seemed wrong. This was *our* crowd. Except it wasn’t.

Rampone scored for Sky Blue. We held our scarves up and sang Rose City Til I Die. A celebratory siren recording played over the PA.

bleachers1croppedWhen Long was near us, we sang to her:

Allie Long, I know this game is killing you
 Oh, Allie Long, your aim is true

Some guy down below us said, “You haven’t used that drum very much.” Yeah, dude, why, you want to chant? “Oh, no, I only know UVA songs.” OK, you teach us yours and we’ll teach you ours. No? Okay, then. So we sang:

We schlepped this drum 3000 miles, we’ll schlep this drum 3000 more
Just to be the ones who schlepped this drum 3000 miles and hope they score

At the half I wandered over to Section 9 to find someone to chat with in Cloud9, Sky Blue’s new supporters group. Not many were there and the contact we’d been chatting with online was out of town, but a thirties-ish guy in a Red Bulls jersey recognized the Riveters scarf and shook my hand. We hadn’t heard any drums or singing way over on our end, but John was in fact their drummer, and he’d come over from the Empire Supporters Club to help the new SG. This match, Sky Blue’s home opener, was Cloud9’s first as an official entity. He said what Cloud9 is really hoping for is a double-header in Harrison. Yurcak Field is too far out of the way, too hard to get to by transit, plus ESC has the history and experience supporting a team for the full 90, and C9 could use some of that.

Long converted a PK in the 75th to equalize. She’s been a beast so far this season. We drummed and sang We Root for the Thorns. Others around us barely seemed to have registered that the team scored a goal.

A boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, came up to us. “Hey, I’ve got one. I Believe!”

Nah, we told him, that’s for the national team. He shrugged and walked away. We wondered whether maybe we should have humored him and just done it. When in Rome and all that. It’d have at least been something.

A group of little girls up above us started doing “Let’s Go Portland, Let’s Go”. Then “De-fense! De-fense!” The announcer called out the winner of some prize, an autographed boot or something like that. A six-year-old girl. The announcer was sure she was very happy.

At 80’ we sang Keep On Lovin’ You. Around 85’, people in our own sections started leaving.

We can see you, we can see you, we can see you sneaking out!

rails1The match ended 1-1. Girls rushed the rails for autographs. Some miniature Fran Drescher sound-alike near us whined for Alex Maaaw-gan. The team came over for a very short time to sign items. H scarfed our fancy new keeper, who didn’t understand at first that the scarf was a gift for her, so now Angerer has a BAON scarf signed by Angerer.

One-T is their assistant coach now. H scarfed him too. I went over afterward and assured him how much better it’s going to be next week. “We’ll take the point,” he said. No, I clarified, you guys were great; I mean *us*.

We cut down our banners and packed up our souvenir Rutgers football soda cup. A few more players walked by including Sinc. We waved and yelled after them: “Next week!” Sinc called back: “We can’t wait! Looking forward to the tifo! There’s tifo… right?”

A little later we were listening to the crowd on the RSL vs. Timbers match stream. Even with the classless YSA and Puto chants, I was jealous. So jealous, and not a little depressed.

Are we doing something that’s worth doing? I wondered. Within the context of this particular league, is this just stupid? Complete overkill?

I thought about moving that paragraph above about Sinc to here and just stopping. It would have been a way for me to conclude that no, it’s not stupid and no way in hell should we do that—we support the team and the team notices. But the larger situation is more nuanced than that. It’s easy for us to look at what we’ve accomplished in the past and say everyone should do it the way Portland does. By that I don’t mean necessarily the scale, but certainly the passion. If Portland has ten people at an away game, men’s or women’s, and they sing the whole time and they’ve painted a banner and they know the players’ names and who on the opposing team to heckle by name, that all very much counts. The Riveters have brought it at other away games and we always do the job on our home ground. But as our whole experience this weekend made clear, hundreds or even thousands of warm bodies stuck in seats without any history, passion, or context just leads to massive total suck. That won’t inspire teams or keep anybody coming back. But I can’t imagine how hard it must be to turn things around if you’re a supporter in a home location where that’s your starting point.

So yeah, Cloud9 has their work cut out for them. The cross-pollination with ESC is likely a good thing, but they’re going to need not only local folks who can make it out to the venue, but WoSo-savvy charismatic leaders or at least self-starters and a bunch of very loud regulars who can get everyone used to having visible and vocal soccer supporters of all ages at these games. And those people need to relentlessly *be* vocal and visible, even if others around really don’t approve or care. There’s no other way to make their presence part of the team’s culture, encourage rival SGs to do better, and attract more supporters who want women’s soccer support to be more like that and are willing to do the hard work required.

In Portland we’re lucky to be building on an established tradition of fanatical and organized soccer support. if it were us in Cloud9’s shoes, surrounded by annoyed non-supporters and doing our thing in a venue that treated matches as children’s events week after week, I think I get now how draining it would be at times to keep doing it. The soul-suckingness of it got to us really hard, being abandoned like that even by our own team’s fans. Maybe they were led by the press to expect a spectacle, instead of understanding they would need to *be* that spectacle.  More likely they just didn’t care, or even know it was an option to care.

So since then I’ve been rereading Crane and letting her words reassure me that we’re not completely alone and not completely crazy, and when we get home I’ll be able to summon the energy to help make our home opener something the players will remember for a long time. But I’m also rereading Macur, and I think I understand much better now why she came at it the way she did, although I’m not happy about it. Though I strongly disagree with her proposals for stabilizing the league, I think what she saw in Maryland was in some ways unfortunately spot on. The new coach and players considered this outing a success, but we know from our own experience what success can be like and this wasn’t in any way related. In Portland, the Thorns are a Portland team; we recognize them as professionals without hesitation and we are fiercely proud of them. Elsewhere, they are a women’s soccer team, with all the cultural baggage that carries. And it’s got me looking beyond our own city and wondering where WoSo supporters in this country collectively go from here, and how.

Apr 072014
 
rcrbuttons

We’re only a few days away from the season opener in Houston. Safe travels to those heading to Texas. If you’re still making plans, be sure to check the forum for info on where folks are staying, when they’re traveling, how you can meet up, etc.

For those not planning to travel (and who are local to Portland), we will be hosting an away match viewing at Blitz 21 (305 NW 21st.) on Saturday. This is also a Timbers home match day, so parking will be at a premium. Take that into account if you plan on joining us. We’ll have merch available until at least the half (at which point some of us will need to scoot to make it to the Timbers Match – Soccer City, and all). If you’re a card-carrying 107ist, you’ll get a discount. If you’re not, you should seriously consider joining (info here).

This viewing will be 21 and over, but Bazi Bierbrasserie will also be screening the match and they welcome all ages. If you plan on going to Bazi, check their website for info on making a reservation in advance. Over the course of the season, we hope to host viewings across the city and plan on having at least a few of them at all-ages venues.

A little bit more about away travel: we’d love to have a presence at every match this year. If you plan on traveling, please let us know and if you’re a Riveter based in another NWSL city, give a shout. We’ve got a couple of banners we’d like to travel and we will happily send them to you to display at the matches. Check the forum for details.

We also have some non-soccer community stuff coming up. In May, we’ll be joining the Timbers Army in supporting the National Association for Mental Illness (NAMI). The combined TA/Riveters group has set a goal to fundraise $5,000 for the NAMI Walk here in Portland May 18. To join the team or to make a donation, you can go here.

And June 15, we’ll be joining the Timbers Army to march in the Portland Pride Parade. The parade starts at 11 a.m., a home Thorns match will follow at 2 p.m. We’ll have information on signing up to march sometime in the near future and will post here when we have it.

 

Any questions?

On Location: Rochester Away

 Posted by on August 12, 2013  Away Travel  7 Responses »
Aug 122013
 

Keep Calm and Play Soccer

This is the motto that provided the motivation for a friend and me to take a road trip from Toronto down to Rochester to watch Canadian soccer royalty as Christine Sinclair and Karina LeBlanc were bringing their Portland Thorns into Western New York to battle Abby Wambach’s Flash for second place and home field advantage in the semi’s!

Sahlen's Stadium Scoreboard

The importance of this match couldn’t be understated at all! To have the honor of hosting a semi-final game in the inaugural NWSL season was something that both teams would battle hard for. I was convinced that Sahlen’s Stadium would be rocking with energy and excitement! Arriving an hour before the 7:35 pm EST kickoff, there was a line of cars waiting to park – a very good sign! I was also expecting to see a large contingent of Canadians because as I said, this was as close as Sinclair and LeBlanc would be to the Canadian border in the east. Sporting our Canadian gear and proudly wearing the flag, we entered the stadium and made our way around the venue to our seats.

Sunny Day

The pre-game warm-ups are always a great indication of how the teams will perform and both teams looked focused and ready to go. As you can see, the sun was shining brightly as the Thorns warmed up, which would definitely be a factor in the first half for whichever team was facing it. My Canadian brethren did not disappoint either as there were many in the rows around me (I just wish they would have sported the red & white a little more prominently)! Also surprising to me was the fact that there were a LOT of Thorns fans who were there to specifically see Tobin Heath … almost everywhere I looked I saw Heath jerseys or signs!

Headed into the locker room

Sinclair and Angie Kerr going back into the locker room to prepare for the game. This was Kerr’s first game since July, a tough test to come back into the midfield and having to face not just Wambach, but Carli Lloyd as well.

05.WelcomeTunnel06.WelcomeTunnel

Both teams coming out for opening kickoff; to a polite round of applause from the Flash faithful – nowhere near the energy I was anticipating. Maybe watching Thorns games online (and hearing the sheer noise that goes along with being at JELD-WEN Field) has skewed my opinion, but for a game this important – everything just seemed too quiet!

Gametime

The venue has a seating capacity of 13,768, but as you can see as the Thorns have lined up for kickoff, many empty seats! The Flash are a tremendous team and I was disappointed to see a turnout of 7, 606 (even though it the highest attendance for a game this season).

Thorns Wall

LeBlanc directing traffic after an unfortunate miscue between her and her defense – no harm came of it though – thank goodness!

Second Half

Getting ready for the start of the second half and there was still no scoring! Thorns had only fired three shots at Franch during the first half – much more would be needed for a positive result.

Full Field

A panorama of Sahlen’s Stadium! It was an absolutely beautiful night for soccer. When all was said and done, both keepers kept clean sheets, and LeBlanc had her highest save total for any game this season. A 0-0 draw was the result as the Thorns are adjusting to life without Alex Morgan for now.

After the game, the announcer made it very clear that autographs were to be signed in “Autograph Alley.” About ten minutes before the final whistle, the barriers were already packed with youngsters waiting to get a glimpse of their heroes! Despite the fact that autographs were only to be had in the ‘Alley’ many of the Thorns players went over the sidelines to sign for people (very classy). In particular, Sinclair and LeBlanc went up into the crowd of Canadians who were behind the bench to sign paraphernalia. I was totally on the wrong side of the field so watched with envy (hence the blurry shot … but you can see Leblanc in yellow and Sinclair is on the field making her way up)!

Autographs

All in all it was a fabulous experience and one that I will repeat again next year (that’s me in the red)!!! I have also added a trip to Portland, and JELD-WEN Field in particular, to my bucket list for next summer!!!

That's a wrap!

Aug 012013
 

Well, probably not all the things. Just whichever ones I remember to write here.

Okay. Sunday is match day. This is the last guaranteed home match this season. As of right this second, the Thorns hold second place in the standings and, if that holds, they will host a semifinal playoff match. If they slip to third place, they’ll travel. We’ve officially entered ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN territory here.

The forecast for Sunday shows temperatures in the low 90s, but your Thorns need you to bring it. They need you loud and proud. They also need you to bring sunscreen and drink lots of water. Hydrate, people. Don’t let them down because you wilted. You know that brand new scarf you just got from the fine folks at the merch Rav4? Even 90 degrees isn’t too hot to wear it – just go soak it in water first. Trust me on this one.

So, let’s talk a little about location. Ideally, we want everyone on their feet in 106-108. Sing your hearts out, brothers and sisters. If you want to sit and spectate, please to be moving elsewhere. While all of the North End is considered standing/singing/etc., there are some perfectly lovely pockets of 109/110/204/205 that are less active and more appropriate for those who really enjoy the feel of a hard plastic chair or wooden bleacher on their behind.

As some of you may have heard, we had a little confusion over two-sticks last Sunday. All is well. Bring your two-sticks, but there are two things to remember about this. Please be respectful of those around you and don’t put your two-stick up during the run of play. Secondly, if your two-stick requires twenty-seven interlocking pieces of pvc and six bungee cords to hold it together, it’s best that you just build that particular (peculiar?) fort in your back yard and don’t bring it to JWF. Okay, I guess there’s a third thing: if your two-stick is big enough to drape an aircraft carrier, it might be best displayed hanging from the rail at the front of the 100s. Holly usually has some zip ties. (Someone please remind me to mention to her that I’ve now announced on the internet that she might have spare zip ties to share.)

Merch! The merch Rav4 will be in the Koi Fusion lot at 20th & Burnside pre- and post-match. It’ll be stocked with scarves, buttons and t-shirts, photos of which can be seen on Twitter (@pdxriveterssg) or on the Facebook page. Please to be buying all the things. Scarves are $15. Buttons are $1. T-shirts are assorted sizes, $15 each, $17 for extended sizes. We’re working toward an online purchase option, but we’re not quite there.

Tickets! If you’ve got extra when gameday rolls around, please consider dropping them off with the merch crew. They’ll get them into the hands of folks who need them and any donations will go to the 107ist. Oh, do you still need tickets? Go here: https://www.facebook.com/events/180844102067573/.

Freeway! So, because ODOT hates the east side of Portland, they’ve chosen to close I-84 westbound from 11 p.m. Saturday night through 5 a.m. Monday morning. Please plan accordingly. Ride MAX. Timbers match Saturday night? Get a hotel room and just stay downtown all weekend. It’s kind of like a staycation but with turndown service and three footy matches in 24 hours.

So, that’s all the Sunday stuff, I think. Here comes All The Other Stuff.

The Riveters are hosting next Wednesday’s away viewing at On Deck in the Pearl (910 NW 14th). Match starts at 4 p.m. and they’ll also show the Timbers/RSL USOC match following the Thorns/Breakers match. Happy hour until 6 p.m. Kids welcome. Wifi available. Please RSVP here so we know you’re coming.

Playoff tickets! Season ticket holders should have gotten an email about deposits for playoff tickets. To secure your seats, you need to respond by August 9th. Do this. Deposit is $2. TWO DOLLARS. The balance of the ticket price will be charged later. It’s all in the email. If you didn’t get the email, please call your ticket rep.

Tukwila Away! We’re making another trip north to see the Thorns take on the Reign in lovely Tukwila. Get on the bus. Tickets are available here. Please don’t wait until the last minute. We don’t want you to miss out. Our first trip up was amazing. You don’t want to miss this. Seriously.

And here’s the thing I’ve saved for last. There’s a pretty epic thing that’s going to happen Sunday. Lots of folks put a lot of hard work into it but, without the help of the 107ist, it wouldn’t be happening on this scale. If you haven’t already, please consider joining the 107ist. Membership is $25 per person and nets you a ton of discounts for area businesses in addition to supporting both the Timbers Army and the Rose City Riveters. Click here to join and tell them we sent you.

 

Did I miss anything?

Invading Tukwila

 Posted by on July 23, 2013  Away Travel  10 Responses »
Jul 232013
 

The last game of this Inaugural NWSL season is nearly upon us. Fortunately, we can attend this game and cheer our Thorns on to victory over the Seattle Reign!

We’ve chartered a bus to take the loud and proud Rose City Riveters north for what could be one of the most exciting and important games of the season. The way this season is shaping up, we could be playing for home-field advantage in the playoff match!!

We have space for 50 supporters on the bus and each seat comes with a ticket to the game ($52 for the combo). Plus, we’ve acquired 10 extra tickets at the group ticket rate ($16/ticket) which saves you a few bucks off of the regular price . If you buy the ticket to the match and are not planning on riding the bus, your ticket will be with the bus, so just hang out at Starfire until we get there.

The bus will be departing from the Oregon Convention Center on NE Holladay between 3:30-4pm on Saturday, August 17th. The itinerary is as follows:

  • 3pm-4pm – Load up the bus, depart for Tukwila (we will have a stop along the way at the rest area just outside of Centralia, WA)
  • 6:30-7pm – Arrive at Starfire Sports Complex
  • 8pm – Thorns v Reign kickoff
  • 10:15 – Load up the bus to head home (we will be stopping at a rest area on the way home)
  • 1:00am – 2:00am – Arrive back at the Oregon Convention Center

The bus/ticket combos can be purchased at: rcraway.eventbrite.com

Personal food and beverage is permitted on the bus. We will not be providing a keg on this trip, though adult beverages are permitted as long as they are not in glass bottles. No glass is allowed on the bus.

Jul 222013
 

Hi, I’m Luke and I had the privilege of attending the Thorns away match in Boston on July 21. It has been a whirlwind last two months, as I was on the road in Europe (check out a collage of photos with my By Any Other Name scarf around famous stadiums), but I wanted to make sure my return to the US coincided with a Thorns away match, and this one worked out perfectly.

To begin, I should say that my college roommate Max and I were guests of Boston Breakers General Manager Lee Billiard, who is a friend of a friend. We originally had General Admission seats, but ended up sitting on the row right next to the field. Thank you so much, Lee! It was a wonderful day.

The Breakers play at Dilboy Stadium (a multipurpose venue that has room for about 3,000 spectators), which is in Somerville, Massachusetts. A venue in a city outside of the namesake of the team usually prompts transportation worry for supporters. Fear not with the Breakers, because the stadium is easy to reach via public transport (a train, then bus, then five minute walk) and is about 7 miles from Boston city center.

Max and I drove to the site and arrived around 3:00 PM, which was when gates were scheduled to open. We immediately noticed the positive sign that the parking lot was already entirely full (kickoff was an hour away). Outside the entrance to the stadium, multiple sales tents were set up:

Once we came through the gates, we were greeted by another good sign: Ocean Spray (the primary kit sponsor for the Breakers) had a table and was giving out free packets of Craisins. I mean, how can you pass that up?


We met Lee and were escorted across the track and the field seats. The stadium behind us filled up quickly, especially once the players jogged on the field.

I know there was a lot of talk about the $4.99 livestream cost. It did look like a fairly professional production from being right next to the cameras and hosts.

As the national anthem track was being pumped in over the loudspeakers (why not have former Thorn Jazmyne Avant sing?), I noticed a few other PTFC scarves waving around in the stands. It was quite hot in the Boston area over the weekend, so we were a bit worried about sitting directly in the sun to begin the match. Fortunately, the sun went behind the clouds for most of the match and I could see the entire field without shading my eyes.

I would be hopeless at game analysis, so I will not try, but I did have a few observations that I picked up from sitting right next to the field that I otherwise would not have:

  • In the first half, it was very cool to hear Karina LeBlanc organize her defense. She does a lot of talking: “Right shoulder, Rach!” “Let’s go get another one!” (after the first goal)
  • Kat Williamson was basically slow dancing with Sydney Leroux all game.

  • Everyone calls Tobin Heath “Tobs” on the field.
  • No real chants to speak of from the stands, though there was a very fired up woman behind us with a Timbers Army scarf that was obviously quite into the match. Lots of youth soccer teams were announced, as well as a few birthdays.

At the half, the Thorns did not go back to the visitor’s locker room – they stayed on the far side of the field and found a place behind their bench to sit on the ground and talk. For the halftime entertainment, a youth soccer team tried to kick balls as close as possible to the center of the pitch, while the Breakers guest drumline (they were great!) kept the crowd into it.

In the second half, the elements became a much bigger factor. It seemed to me like both teams were pressing and it started raining fairly hard. Of course, this was interspliced with the sun breaking through the clouds, which definitely reminded me of home in Portland. Mana Shim scored in the 86th minute – one of those shots that went off the inside wheel, so it was initially difficult to tell if it had gone in at field level – and prompted a euphoric reaction from the Thorns supporters in the crowd (there were quite a few wearing Portland gear).

The Thorns held on for the win and then I stuck around on the field to clap both teams off. Alex Morgan ran off right after doing a few interviews (she tweeted that she had to catch a flight). My ultimate PTFC highlight was seeing Christine Sinclair and Dani Foxhoven walk off the field together and thanking the University of Portland duo. I became a fan of women’s soccer after my friend Ruth was a goalkeeper on the 2005 National Championship team – she would give me her player’s allotment tickets frequently, so I saw Christine all the time. Being able to meet her in person was such a pleasure. She could not have been more gracious – came over, shook my hand, asked my name, and beamed when I talked about watching her at UP.

I was quite fortunate with meeting players and coaches, but I know almost nobody wants to see loads of pictures (if you do, they are on my twitter). I will say that in particular, it was amazing to finally meet Joanna Lohman in person. Joanna wrote this absolutely must-read article in the prelude to the NWSL, which delves into how to grow and sustain a professional women’s soccer league – Joanna Lohman: How to market our new women’s professional league.

It was this article that had me fired up from the very beginning about Portland having a NWSL franchise, due to everything Joanna wrote about as being necessary to grow the league. I felt confident that Soccer City, USA would rise to meet the challenge and I was inspired to help in every way that I could. This is especially important for me, because, as a high school teacher, I have students write to me all the time about wanting to follow their dreams and play sports professionally. In order for that to be a possibility for many, this league HAS to be successful. Thus, meeting Joanna and her family after the game was an incredible treat.

The Breakers have a place called “Autograph Alley” (which was announced multiple times during the run of play – I found this to be off-putting and slightly disrespectful, but I know that the current audience for much of the league is quite young) where players go after the game to sign autographs and take pictures. Max and I were standing in the area between the alley and the locker room, watching players get besieged with requests. Every single one that was asked for something in the area obliged, from what I could see. All the players I talked to could not have been nicer.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, especially coming away with a sorely needed win. It has been so much fun to follow this team and help create support along with so many others. Hopefully, the ride continues all the way to the inaugural NWSL championship!

Invade Seattle

 Posted by on May 11, 2013  Away Travel  16 Responses »
May 112013
 

Our Thorns are taking on the Seattle Reign on Saturday, May 25th, and we want to make sure we show Starfire what support looks and sounds like, so we’re chartering a bus up north for the day.

Our bus is wheelchair accessible with a lift and will have space for 50 loud and proud Riveters!! If you need tickets to the match and also want to ride the bus, we have 20 of those tickets available at $50 each. If you have already purchased your match ticket and are just looking for a fun and exciting day with us, those tickets are $32 ($30 bus ride + $2 in site fees). Please use the link below to purchase the appropriate tickets. (Please read to the end of this post before attempting to purchase tickets through Eventbrite.)

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/6656585025

We have a pretty full day planned, as there is also a Timbers match in DC. We didn’t want to be on a bus while the boys played, so we included a viewing party into the bus trip! The bus of Rose City Riveters will be joining up with the Timbers Army Seattle crew TA Covert Ops at the Elliott Bay Brewing Co in Burien, WA for the Timbers’ 4 p.m. kickoff. Food and beverage at Elliott Bay are not included in the price of the trip.

After the Timbers match, we will make the 10 minute drive over to Starfire Sports Complex. The Thorns kickoff at 7 p.m. against the Hope-less Reign!!

A full event itinerary is below:

11:30 a.m. – Board bus at the Convention Center (NE Holladay St)
12 – 12:15 p.m. – Depart Portland
 3:30 p.m. – Arrive at Elliott Bay Brewing Co to watch the Timbers v United match
 6:00 p.m. – Depart for Starfire Sports Complex
 7:00 p.m. – Thorns v Reign kickoff
 9:15 p.m. – Depart Starfire Sports Complex
12 a.m. – Arrive back in Portland

Some smaller details – Personal food and beverage is permitted on the bus. We will not be providing a keg on this trip, though adult beverages are permitted as long as they are not in glass bottles. No glass is allowed on the bus.  

 

Please note: bus tickets/combos will be available through Eventbrite starting at 8 a.m. Sunday, May 12. Please plan accordingly.

A quick trip to KC

 Posted by on April 19, 2013  Away Travel, Photos  1 Response »
Apr 192013
 

I went to the inaugural NWSL match in Kansas City this past weekend. I was one of 6,784 people to see two squads battle it out on a high school football field. I saw Christine Sinclair battle her Canadian National Teammate Desiree Scott for 90 frustrating minutes, I cheered on Dani Foxhoven when she came on in the second, and applauded the team at the final whistle. It was great fun. But it was also a very different experience than what will be happening at JELD-WEN on Sunday so I thought I would share a different perspective in the new National Women’s Soccer League.

gab_kc3I wanted to go to support the new league and it just happened that this first match was a Thorns FC game. From my perspective, everything was lining up so well. I have been traveling to watch the US Women’s National Team play in various US cities for the past year so I’ve made friends with other women’s soccer supporters and 5 of us met up in KC for this match. I was the only one going for the Thorns, though. Fortunately, the Rose City Riveters family is already large and I was able to meet Patricia, Tara, Colby, and Robby from Champaign, IL (a 6 hour drive) and Luke Howitt from Long Beach, CA. Together, the six of us cheered on the Thorns that night.

I knew there was a tailgate. It was stocked with sandwiches, chips, dips, soda and water. They had music blaring from a couple of cars and cornhole all set up, decked out in “Blue Crew” fashion. It was more than I was expecting for a first ever tailgate, but I was in. I got to know the founders of this supporters group, which got started almost as soon as FCKC was announced.

The tailgate didn’t have a ton of people attend or stick around, but it was a great way to network fans into something larger. Blue Crew shirts were on sale as a fundraiser so they can start to do more and they were able to sell quite a few from what I saw. People were mingling and talking about women’s soccer and it was all a very good vibe.

Getting there so early, I was able to see a lot of the set-up for the game. There was a slick Mexican food truck that ended up being one of the concession stands, a band started playing cover songs (and drowning out the tailgate music), Jimmy Johns had a tent and was giving out samples. ESPN had a reporter and a photographer there who interviewed the Blue Crew.

At one point we even started seeing the teams driving around trying to figure out where they were supposed to be.

About 2 hours before kickoff, a line at the gate started to grow. By the time they let people in, I’d estimate there were near 300 people waiting to get in. Mostly families of players, hoping to get front row seats. The seating at the Shawnee Mission Stadium is by section, so it was first come, first serve for bleacher seats. I went in and headed toward the top section, as we had a 2 stick that we wanted to keep up the whole game. That and I didn’t see many flags in the crowd so knew we could wave them proudly at the top and not interfere with anyone else’s gameday experience.

gab_kc2

Before the match, as the stands started to fill, the six of us were joined at the top by a couple of youth clubs. These kids were cute, the younger ones interested in our swag (scarves, hats, flags) and the older ones trying to talk smack about the Thorns or talk up KC. It was adorable. We let them wave the flags, we told them about the Rose City Riveters, and we even tried to get them to participate in PT-FC, at least until the older kids realized we were converting them. During the game, the kids went and sat by their parents and we were closed in on by more fans and families.

When the teams came out for the first time, the Blue Crew got loud. They were having a blast. They even had a Rosie two-stick, though I don’t know what it said. I don’t think it was a slight in our direction, as we had just announced our SG name that week.

I won’t write much about the game, as I’m not an analyst, but I will say that our players looked tired. The crowd seemed into it, from what we could tell. Again, we were at the top of the bleachers, but we heard the Blue Crew horns and drums for most of the game. A lot of the same songs were played on repeat, and we would interject “Thorns” in where we could to sing along. We weren’t prepared with many chants or all that organized, but we stood and had fun the whole game.

At half they played a couple of audience participation games and had a couple of mascots come out and interact with the crowd. A lot like what I’ve seen at Pilots games over the years.

gab_kc1The second half it started to cool down a bit (it had been about 70 degrees at kickoff, cooled down to maybe 50 degrees) and around the 75th minute I noticed that the crowd was thinning out a bit. We started chanting “Game’s not over!!” as it looked like the majority of people leaving were across the stadium, then the people in front of us left. I wouldn’t say it was a mass exodus, as a majority of people stayed until the end, but I was surprised by how many people left before the final whistle.

After the final whistle, the teams made the rounds to thanks the crowd, as expected. We waved our flags as the Thorns came over. It was a nice moment.

Then there were The Autographs. A phenomenon I’ve only seen in women’s soccer. Crowds of fans waiting for players to acknowledge them. A lot of FCKC fans looking to get Morgan’s autograph were a little distraught that she was whisked off to the side right away. We didn’t stick around to get any autographs, but it took us a little while to take down our 2 stick that was zip-tied to the top of the bleachers so we saw a lot of the hub-bub.

We stopped by the merch table on the way out to see if they had any “Inaugural Match” gear but it was all FCKC gear. Some different stuff I haven’t seen from the Thorns yet, like stadium seats, mini soccer balls, lapel pins, and the more basic stuff like kits, hats, tees.

All in all, I had a great time at the game, wished our team did better but it felt good to get the first match out of the way. Also, we met up with some KC supporters at the local pub, Sully’s and had some good talks about women’s soccer and our new markets. Everything I could ask for from 31 hours in Kansas City, really.