As a few of you may know, we had a few complaints following the Seattle home match a while back. Folks didn’t like that people were swearing. Or booing a Seahawk. Or that they didn’t bow down in reverence of a USWNT player on the opposing team.
Whatever. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone supports in different ways. What matters deep down is that they’re supporting. Complaints are going to come, especially after a contentious match against our closest rival.
So, it came as a bit of a surprise to me to get a complaint email in the middle of yesterday’s match. I wasn’t in the North End yesterday, I was up in my perch in what Heidi calls my “lofty eyrie” that the rest of us call the press box. From up there, I can hear chants pretty clearly. Yesterday, I didn’t hear anything unusual.
But still, the complaint came.
Hello. I am a person who loves the Thorns, my whole family does. We have season tickets, however it is very troubling to us that the Riveter chants that used to be so supportive to our Thorns are now used for making our city look like a bunch of assholes. The game against Seattle fans had disgraceful behavior and today’s game too with chants of lousy keeper? Our team is a good one and we should instead continue to support them as best we can instead of wasting effort abusing the other team. It makes the Thorns, their supporters and the city of Portland look bad. I hope it gets resolved soon.
My immediate reaction to this was, very simply, snotty dismissiveness. I read it on my phone on the elevator down to the post-match presser, and again before the coach and players came in to answer questions, and once more when we found out Karina LeBlanc, last year’s Riveters player of the year and current Chicago Red Stars keeper, would be in to give us a few quotes, too.
One only need be within thirty yards of me when the Timbers play the Galaxy to know of my *ahem* dislike of Robbie Keane. But I don’t think we were anywhere near that with Karina. Karina will always be one of us.
But Karina also gets it. She knows what being a player on an opposing team coming into Providence Park entails. Moreso, she knows what being an opposing keeper coming into Providence Park means.
It means you stand with your back to the loudest, most boisterous group of supporters anywhere in women’s sports for at least 45 minutes. It means you are greeted with the “Dodgy Keeper” chant as all opposing keepers are, regardless of skill or how much we may love them as players or individuals. It’s just part of the game.
So, it should be no surprise that she was asked about it in the post-match presser. And her response should be no surprise, either.
Portland is just a city that I remember being here just playing for the people. They’re great, they’re energetic, they love the game. It was just so nice. I just embraced it and just said this is such a good opportunity to play in front of amazing fans. I didn’t take it as them cheering against me or anything…
They’re fans, they have to cheer for the home team. I didn’t take it personally. Again, when I walked out there, they were on their feet clapping for me. It’s a special feeling. Portland will always have a special feeling in my heart…
When the whistle blows, you just want to play the best soccer and give the best expression of yourself on the field. It’s always special playing here.
As previously stated, KK will always be one of us. She gets us. She played her heart out for us. She may play somewhere else, but she will always be loved in Portland.
And, until such time as she finds herself again wearing a Thorns badge, she will be greeted with “Dodgy Keeper.” And she will laugh and wave and take it as part of the game.