Finding Soccer in Music City

 Posted by on August 21, 2017  Editorial  3 Responses »
Aug 212017

Guest column from Chrissy Webb

Hello my name is Chrissy and God, do I love soccer.  If you would have met me 7 years ago, I would have never thought I would say those words . . . that was until I watched one of the 2011 Women’s World Cup matches and was introduced to this beautiful game. That same year, I moved to Nashville for work and went to my first USWNT match and there was nothing like it; the atmosphere, the energy, the roar of the fans when we scored our first goal. It was in that moment I learned this was much bigger than just cheering a club, it’s about growth of the game, the culture, the community, and it’s about being part of a family.

The evolution of a soccer fan is interesting, isn’t it? The journey to find your favorite club(s), favorite player(s) and local club supporters group /or starting a much-needed supporters group.  My journey started with falling in love with the USWNT; from there attending watch parties hosted by American Outlaws Nashville Chapter and traveling over 3000 miles to matches with AO family. It was through these experiences of watching and traveling together that a small core group of NWSL fans with a love for Club and Country emerged with the issue of where to meet to watch matches.

Thankfully, this season the partnership of NWSL and Lifetime made this a reality. After an AO Nashville watch party a conversation stirred about having public watch parties, because we wanted to create a space that hopefully will grow interest in women’s soccer locally. So, I took a leap and asked Tailgate Music Row, who has been extremely welcoming in hosting watch parties for different soccer matches, if we could watch the Lifetime NWSL match of the week and of course they said yes. With a watch party location set and a core group of WOSO supporters; NWSLville Supporters was founded and has gained slow and steady momentum since April 2017. One of the best moments we have had to date was our June watch party which was a meet and great with our WPSL club, the Nashville Rhythm FC who were in their inaugural season and made it to the playoffs this season!

NWSLville/Rhythm FC Meet and Greet |6.24.17 at Tailgate Music Row

One of the many things I love about having this supporters group in Nashville is that we don’t have one club we root for, but most of us have a tier of allegiance to the NWSL clubs. It creates a unique experience of playful banter and united desire to see this league grow, and not one of us would be mad if an expansion club one day made Nashville their home. Until that happens we will love our clubs from afar or fly to cities to watch as many matches as we can. While we do have loyalties spread across the NWSL, there are quite a few of us that share a love for the Thorns and the Rose City Riveters. I thought it would be fun to ask some of the members of our group to share what makes the Thorns special to them, as well as having the local NWSL supporters group:

Jessi shared that for her, “Thorns are one of [her] favorite teams because of the soccer culture in Portland. The support fans show for the Thorns is unmatched in women’s soccer, and it’s great to see. It shows the sports world that there is a market for women’s sports and if you really listen to your community you can make it grow. It’s an experience I hope to have in person next season.”

Maegan shared  “It’s super cool to have a group of other people who are as interested in the game as I am. Being a women’s sports fan in general can be a pretty lonely experience since the coverage is minimal and other fans are hard to find. While it’s improved over the years there is certainly a long way to go. Hopefully by creating this group we’ve created a space for all of us to get together and form new friendships while watching the game we love. Even if we don’t all agree on which team should win on any given Saturday. If we can pull more people into this world we can pull the beautiful game out of the shadows and into the light.”

Steve shared, “I think it’s great. It shows how much of a soccer city that Nashville is becoming and demonstrates the diversity of our fan-base of the sport as a rule. To have a bar that supports the NWSL games is great as well.  While my allegiances lie elsewhere in the NWSL, I do love how Portland embraces the Thorns as well as the Timbers. Truly a great soccer city. Everything from the stadium to the traditions and the unquestionable support.  Definitely on my list to catch a game or two in Portland in the future.”

Allison shared that, “As a former soccer player, long-time fan, I love the excitement that comes with having a team to rally around. It brings me right back to my playing days when we all get together to support our NWSL teams of choice. That same spirit of rallying around a team, and a common cause, is why I love the Thorns so much. It is very apparent every time you watch a Thorns match that everyone shares a passion for the team’s success, and it brings the community together.”

And speaking personally as a Thorns supporter, it comes from my experience of living in Portland before the NWSL was established because it’s a city of inclusiveness and passion which is evident of your section each game. The Riveters have set the bar for the best supporters group that encompasses so many things but mostly the passion for the environment and bringing everyone together, it’s what inspires me to help create a similar space here in Nashville.

While Nashville will always be Music City, we are emerging as a city that loves soccer. Right now, it seems that the love of soccer is growing just as fast as the city itself. In recent years we have hosted historical record breaking matches for the USWNT, USMNT and an ICC match. We are paving the way with a bid for a MLS team through the Nashville Soccer Club who is starting their first season in the USL in 2018. The Nashville soccer community appears to have local club supporter’s groups for most leagues, roughly 19 that I was able to count, and humbled to say we now have the first WOSO supporters group to add to the list. As Maegan said earlier, by being committed to growing the local interest of soccer & supporting the women of the NWSL, USWNT, & WPSL we pull this beautiful game out of the shadows and into the light where it belongs!

thorns watch

Thorns/Courage Watch Party |7.15.17 at Tailgate Music Row

A big thank you to the Rose City Riveters for giving us the chance to share our story. I hope one day to cheer with you all at Providence Park!  – Cheers, Chrissy 


Apr 172017

Guest post/editorial from Jason Rodgers, Thorns Season Ticket Holder and Supporter


Yesterday’s double-header at Providence Park was an exciting day for Portland soccer.  The Thorns started their season with a home win over Orlando pride, setting an attendance record for an opening match, followed by a physical and emotional loss by the Timbers to Sporting KC.

While Portland soccer fans spoke with their presence, epic tifos, roaring chants, and general boundless support and love for their teams, former Timbers player Willie Anderson spoke with his foot solidly planted in his mouth.  In the KPTV pregame show, sportscaster Nick Krupke asked Thorns coach Mark Parsons substantive questions about receiving the Supporter’s Shield and starting the season strong.  But then Parsons turns to his left to questions from Anderson about why he coaches “girls,” and if he yells at them and makes them cry!  Really?!  These are the only questions that came to his mind?  Krupke nervously glances at the camera and then is wise to cut the interview short.

These sexist remarks are unacceptable.  It is clear that Mr. Anderson does not respect or value our women’s soccer league, and thinks Parsons is somehow a lesser coach because he is associated with them.  The challenges that women’s sports face with regards to inequities in pay, facilities, and accommodations – and not just soccer – is frustrating enough without these sorts of small-minded comments from within the athletics and media community.  Julie Foudy was at Providence Park yesterday, and I hope she gets wind of this interview and makes an example of these ignorant statements in a future broadcast.

Please reconsider your relationship with Willie Anderson as a sports commentator.  Whatever his contributions to the Timbers organization of old, he does not represent Portland soccer today. Thank you.

Jason Rodgers

Thorns season ticket holder

Longtime Timbers supporter


Noon on a Monday.

 Posted by on September 28, 2016  Editorial, Players  No Responses »
Sep 282016

When people ask me about the differences in supporting the Timbers and the Thorns, I give complicated answers about the different fan bases and supporters groups, and the intersections and overlaps of the two, and demographics and visibility and growth and whatnot.

But then I find myself at the airport just after noon on a Monday to greet a team who’s just won a league Shield and I forget all those things.

It’s not about the number of butts in seats. It’s not about who sells how many jerseys. It’s not even about that Shield.

It’s about support.

We will be there, win or lose. We will be there, rain or shine. We will be there.

There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 of us at PDX Monday afternoon to greet the team as they arrived home as 2016’s NWSL Shield winners. They looked tired from their travels, but happy to be home, and ready to get to work preparing for Sunday’s playoff match, the first home playoff match for the Thorns in franchise history.

The 2016 NWSL Shield winners arrive home to begin preparations for the first home playoff game in Thorns franchise history.

The 2016 NWSL Shield winners arrive home to begin preparations for the first home playoff game in team history.

There in the picture, among stalwart supporters and national team members, is one of the littlest Riveters, Harper. She’s new to us, but to me, she represents future generations of players and supporters.

She wore sparkly shoes to the last home match. She sat on her dad’s shoulders and waved a flag as the team came off the field. She’s one of us. She’s all of us. She’s just a tad shorter. But someday, she’ll kick a ball on that field or design tifo that’s raised in the stands. Next level, next generation support.

Next-gen Riveter Harper.

Next-gen Riveter Harper.

Last we checked, there were still a few tickets left for Sunday’s match. Go get them. Bring a friend.

Start thinking about what possible excuses you can give your boss should the need for another airport greeting arise.

Equal Play. Equal Pay.

 Posted by on March 31, 2016  Editorial  4 Responses »
Mar 312016

The Rose City Riveters have stood up for equality and different social issues a number of times over our short 3-year history. Now we have an opportunity to stand up again.

We stand behind the United States Women’s National Team as they strive for equal pay for equal play as compared to their male counterparts in the United States Soccer Federation organization. Their fight is on the front page of most news websites today. It is a fight that has been going on for decades, most notably in the last 3 years as the USWNT was not able to establish a new Collective Bargaining Agreement with USSF after their epic World Cup performance in 2011.

For the first time in history, in FY2016, the USWNT is on pace to out-earn the USMNT. This is huge for a number of reasons, the primary one being that the counterargument for their pay structure has always been “look at who brings home the bacon” (pun not intended).

The second part of this issue has a lot to do with sponsorship and winnings, because when a team wins a tournament, those winnings tend to go to the Federation, who then pay out their own predetermined bonuses. USSF bonuses are structured differently for the MNT and WNT simply because a) the size of the winnings differ, and b) the WNT players are salaried while the men are only being paid for their participation with the team. The simple way to look at this is that there is the potential for the Federation to generate more revenue from earnings from men’s tournaments because the prize money is greater. But that is a shallow way of looking at this. Why is the prize money greater? It is because there are, generally, more sponsors and TV deals and coverage for these tournaments.

Sponsorship is a bit more convoluted, because most sponsors are Federation sponsors. For example, USSF pocketed $26M in FY2015 from a Nike sponsorship. The Federation does not report out what it does with that sponsorship money, though it did note that in FY2015, Nike gave them an additional $250K as a men’s World Cup bonus. My question here is: Why do sponsors sign on? Is it to market a particular squad? Should USSF have a responsibility to distribute the resources as the sponsor intends? So, I’ll be interested to see if there is a specific line item bonus in the FY2016 report.

But I digress. When we take the sponsorship and winnings piece out of the equation, and look at the earnings for the two senior teams, 2016 is an epic year for the women. They now have the data that stands by their growing popularity and their growing support, and the consumer has voted with their pocketbook. This, to me, is huge.

We stand behind women not being satisfied with the status quo, especially when the playing field is not even. We stand behind these women as they make a historic move toward equality in all aspects of their job.

But we do not just stand behind the USWNT.

We stand behind the NWSL with the promise that the growth of the league will lead to better wages for all players, not just the big names in the league, The Federation players. We stand up for those unpaid amateurs who show up day in and day out for practice and meetings, hoping for a chance to make an impact and earn a contract.

For too long, female athletes have had to pursue their dreams as more of a hobby. They are unable to earn a living wage for themselves or their families, because no one watches their sport. Because no one is sponsoring their sport. Because they do not have a big money-making machine enabling them to train and condition full-time for their sport.

We have shown up, for three years now, to prove the contrary. We are watching your sport. We are buying the sponsors’ products. We want to help develop that machine that will hopefully enable future NWSL players to be able to train and condition full-time for their team. We stand behind the players.

With the inception of the NWSL and then Merritt Paulson bringing a team to Portland, we have all become very aware of the issues surrounding women and sports. Not that we weren’t aware of them before, but now we want to pass a hat for them, we want to gift them grocery store gift cards, we want to help them every day. We help support them through GoFundMe campaigns. We network to try to find them reasonably priced, reliable vehicles. We realize this is grass roots, and we know that this is going to grow into something that is so much more.

I want to support a league that is able to generate revenue and also pay its players a living wage. I want a league that plays entirely in soccer-specific stadiums. I want a league that has a TV deal and national sponsors. I want a league that is attracting world-class players as much as they are developing players in the local communities. I know that our current league status is in place to create a sustainable format for growth, but I do not want this league to consider its current status a success. I want the ownership group, the coaches, the general managers, and the players to continue to strive for improvements. I want every player who steps on the pitch in a Thorns kit to be earning above the poverty line.

I stand by these players because I see all of these things as viable. I stand with the Rose City Riveters because I know that we will not accept the status quo to remain constant. We are always striving for better, and we want to support the players as they do the same, both on the pitch and off.

I stand by the USWNT because I am the consumer and I know that my dollar is equal to yours. I know that today’s action is just the first wave in a tsunami of change for these athletes, and will have a significant impact on the way our Thorns are compensated and developed in the future. Hopefully, in the very near future.

Mar 262016

—by Jolene Thomson


We all know what friendlies are—or at least, what they’re supposed to be, in theory. A match not so intensely competitive; one that played for little more than its own sake. (MLS pre-season matches we’ve seen this year might make such a definition questionable at best.)

If there’s one friendly the Thorns play in the pre-season that we can hope will remain neighborly, let’s hope it is the match played with our collegiate neighbors to the south.

Oregon State University Beavers will play Portland Thorns on March 30th. OSU already has a meaningful connection to the Portland Thorns—2015 forward Jodie Taylor was an Oregon State standout 2004-2008. Also, those who look today may see a distinctly Portlandesque imprint on portions of the Corvallis squad.

Goalkeeper Lizzy Coryell played several years for the Westside Timbers, winning a state championship in 2013. Forward Maddie Misi also played several years with Westside Timbers in varying positions, and had two years on the Westside Timbers WPSL team. Former Jesuit goalkeeper Lindsay Lamont helped Crossfire Oregon to state championships in 2012 and 2013. Midfielder Annie Govig played with FC Portland in addition to captaining Sherwood High School’s team.

Slated to join the team this Fall, incoming freshman forward Jada Krening was the 2015 Oregon Live Girls Soccer Player of the Year. She spent the last two seasons with the Portland Thorns Academy, and was the first Parkrose student to accept a Pac-12 scholarship. As Team Captain, Krening set the Parkrose High School record with 81 goals in her four seasons (while maintaining a 4.0—not too shabby!). Another new recruit, midfielder Diana Santiago, played for FC Portland as well as the Westside Metros.

There are other connections to Portland with the Oregon State squad. For the many who closely follow University of Portland soccer, Beavs Assistant Coach Michelle Voiland was starting goalkeeper and was a four-time All-Conference First Team selection at UP in the early to mid-nineties. She went on to play, and later coach, for FC Saarbruecken in the Bundesliga.

While the local connections are endearing, the talent on the OSU squad certainly isn’t limited to Oregonians. Defender Greta Espinoza is just returning from her most recent effort as part of the Mexican National Team, with whom she has 13 caps. Helene Haavik, a forward from Norway, Played for the U16, U17, and U19 Norwegian National Team and went to the European Championships all three years.

Certainly, we will be there to cheer for our Thorns as our priority. But if your schedule and collegiate allegiances allow, you may want to take time to cheer for those Beavs as well.

Sunday, March 27 – Houston Dash vs. Oregon State at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, April 2 – Seattle Reign FC vs. Oregon State at 2:30 p.m.

Mar 212016

Riveting! logo


Hi there, Thorns supporters and podcast enthusiasts!  My name is Patrick Chizeck, and I am a co-host on a brand new podcast called Riveting!  Despite the name, we aren’t an official program of the Riveters—I asked for permission from the powers that be to use the name and they very cordially allowed it.

I am joined every week(ish) by my co-hosts Eric Ohlsen and Emilie Rossi to discuss, bicker and ultimately make mostly unsuccessful jokes about the Thorns and the state of women’s soccer in the US and abroad, although we will be mostly concentrating on what happens with our women in red and black.

Every week we will be soliciting questions from you, the audience, to either answer or at least begin a discussion about (as some questions have no answers—for instance, why does Merritt keep deleting his tweets when he knows we Tweetbunker them?).  This podcast doesn’t just belong to Emilie, Eric and me, it belongs to all of us, which is why we want as much participation from y’all as you’re willing to give.

Right now you can check us out in a bunch of places:

If you somehow forget all of these things as well as this post, you should probably stop hitting yourself on the head, but we’re also linked on the sidebar on the Thorns subreddit, which you should be subscribed to anyway.

Our first episode is already up! We aren’t on iTunes yet (Apple is an arcane and mysterious place, although they are considering our submission.  Wish us luck!) (We’re on iTunes now!  Just look for us!) but you can either find us on Stitcher or just add us manually to your favorite podcast manager by using our RSS feed:

Wow, that’s a lot of links.

I guess if you’re super lazy, here’s the first episode right here.

Thanks for your time, and we hope to hear from you soon (or that you hear us.  Either way!).


Patrick is a founding member of the SG from the very first meeting and a Game Day Ops stalwart since forever. You should listen to him.

Mar 072016

– by Nissa Drake

I had a miserable time yesterday.  MISERABLE!  I sat at home and watched our Portland boys give it a go with that cranky team from the Midwest.  I hacked, I wheezed, I may have gotten a little misty when ESPN ran some clips from the moments following what was a historic moment for the Timbers.  An MLS cup.  Ours.  A star.  Ours.

I was all set up in my chair with some tissues to my right and a glass of water to my left, cold medicine within easy reach, and animals settled in on my lap and in the chair next to me, content to snooze until I cursed at the screen in frustration or screamed in celebration.

There was the inevitable build-up to the unveiling of the banner.  Talk of how long it had been.  1975.  That’s a loooong time.  Being in the North End for most matches for the past 5 years made me feel small.  When you’re looking down the barrel of 1975, when I was 2…yeah, go ahead and do the math if you must…5 years looks small.  And you know, there hasn’t been a championship in the Rose City since those ’77 Blazers.  Whoa.  That’s a loooong time, too, rig…wait.

There’s a little red sign.

It’s actually not so little.  Actually, it’s quite large.  Must have been as big of a pain in the ass to hang as that nifty Timbers banner that was unveiled yesterday.  Perhaps you’ve glanced up now and then to look at it while searching the for the signs of great retired Timbers players and, of course, of our beloved Timber Jim.

It says NWSL Champions…2013.

Huh.  Maybe we should talk about this.  There must have been a mistake somewhere, because the announcers said that there hasn’t been a championship in Portland since ’77.  Caleb Porter himself, of the laser blue eyes and confident smirk, said that there hasn’t been a championship in Portland since the Blazers won in ’77.  It’s almost like the Thorns accomplishment is…invisible.

I’m a reasonable person.  I understand that sports have been a bastion of testosterone for…well…ever.  This is one piece, though, that I’m willing to have a say about.  The USWNT won the World Cup last summer.  Let that sink in for a second.  They won.  The.  World.  Cup.  They didn’t just win it, either…they DEMOLISHED Japan in the final.  It was impressive.  It was inspiring. It was…historic.  We have, at this point, 4 USWNT players who will be on the pitch for the Thorns this season.  We also have national team players from Canada, Denmark, England, and Iceland.  I know, I know, “club over country.”  Ok.  Well, I don’t really have a stance on that, to be honest.  But if you’re going to complain about it, then shut your mouth about Nagbe being called up to the USMNT, and we’ll call it good.

Back to that pesky little red sign, though.

It’s there.  I checked.  And every time it’s not acknowledged in our proud “Soccer City USA” heritage, it’s a silent permission slip to pay some of our best female players $6,000 a season…or bring in unpaid players to round out the roster during the Olympics or the World Cup…to not make kits that can be worn by men…to write angry emails about swearing and finger-flipping at Thorns matches when the same damn things are done each week from the main stage and capo nests for the Timbers.  The more times we let it go by and say nothing, the more we are saying it’s quite alright that a derby match between Seattle and Portland be bumped for “Behind the Scenes at NASCAR.”

I will be the first to say that that first Thorns season was full of just plain weirdness.  There were stories about CPC and her lack of plan or control, how the players had taken things into their own hands, Morgan’s attitude, Heath’s apathy, etc.  Doesn’t matter.  The little red sign persists.  As a matter of fact, let’s relive a goal that pertains to that sign:

Yeah.  Not so much with the apathy there.

I think that it’s time that Soccer City USA prove its mettle and make a goddamn ruckus when ANYone forgets that before the Timbers put a star on it after 40 years, the Thorns did it…in one.

The Pull of Portland

 Posted by on March 4, 2016  Editorial  1 Response »
Mar 042016

– by Briana McColgan

I realized something last night, watching Mark Parsons talk about the Thorns and their fans. See, I’ve been trying to put my finger on it for a while now, why I like supporting the Thorns so much. There’s a lot there. First, I like soccer. All soccer. Any soccer.  And the Thorns play some excellent soccer.

Then there’s an added benefit with the Thorns. With most sports, I can acknowledge to myself that I’m being sort of ridiculous – that in the grand scheme of things that matter in this world, whether or not my Red Sox win shouldn’t really rate on that list. Of course, it does. I have very clear memories of absolute heartbreak, and much foggier memories of raucous celebrations and the hangovers that follow. But I know very well I’m just watching grown men play a game. There’s no larger social movement behind it. Supporting women’s sports, on the other hand, is also about equality. Title IX did a lot of good. It increased female participation in sports by 990% in high school, and by 560% in college. But the job’s not done yet, and opportunities to play professionally are still lacking. Even today, even with our beloved Thorns, the minimum salary is less than $7,000. Last year, during the World Cup, there were women playing for professional soccer teams without any pay at all. There are still miles to go in the fight for gender equality, and supporting women’s sports is one way to aid in that battle.

But mostly, when you go to a Thorns game, you aren’t thinking about that. You’re just thinking about the soccer and the atmosphere and the fun. And that isn’t just down to the soccer being played. It’s also the fans. We have excellent fans. We have a supporters section that sings the entire time, not to mention tifo displays to rival men’s sides. We have – quite literally – the best fans in the world. That’s a point of pride for me, and I suspect for a lot of people. But it’s also useful. Thorns fans have more direct influence on their team than any group I’ve ever seen. It’s not just the immediate impact on a game that you might have (or hope to have) anytime you’re in the stands. Honestly, with the Thorns, I think sometimes that backfires. Players from other teams come in ready to play. They want to play in front of a serious, loud, knowledgeable fan base, even if they are, as Meghan Klingenberg described us, “hostile” (which I took as a ringing endorsement). I’ve heard players say that coming to Providence Park was the first time they felt like a professional athlete.

That’s what I realized last night, when Mark Parsons was talking about an as yet unnamed player they were hoping to sign.* He said she was very excited about the idea of playing for the Thorns, that he didn’t think she would be coming here if it weren’t for us. He talked about this being a nice place to live, both Portland as a city and Oregon as a state. But mostly he talked about the fans.

When you follow sports, you see a lot of people go somewhere for the money or for the chance of winning a championship. Occasionally you see someone stay where they started out, and you applaud their loyalty. But coming to the NWSL from Europe means leaving home for less money. In Portland, it also means playing in front of the best fans in the world. It means those fans won’t just know the national team stars, but everyone, right down to the bench players. It means they take you seriously as a professional athlete, game in and game out. That’s one hell of a selling point. And that’s the impact that we, as fans, have on this team. How cool is that?


[*And allegedly just did. -Ed.]

Feb 222016

—by Jolene Thomson


It’s commonly said that Portland sets the standard for support; certainly, most soccer enthusiasts both in and outside of Portland would agree. Standards must evolve—and achieving and maintaining a pinnacle position means expanding ideas, broadening outreach, and otherwise growing. Those who’ve been to a volunteer recruitment get-together for the Riveters this year know there are already great plans created by those in leadership positions to facilitate growth, with diverse opportunities for involvement and contribution.

Ideally, there will be a strong turnout of skilled, creative, and/or otherwise talented and devoted hands this season.

Some folks will not have the ability or desire to contribute. Reasons will be far-ranging, just as they would be in any other other endeavor that relies on volunteers. Nevertheless, for those who can’t commit to volunteerism, there’s still a small way every individual can easily help to set that standard and continually raise the bar. It’s a challenge each one of us should accept for the upcoming season, and it begins simply with an invitation.

While there were indeed sellout matches in last year’s Thorns season, the average attendance was 15,639. Though that average puts the rest of the league to shame, it does show there still remains an opportunity to introduce the Thorns—and women’s soccer in general—to our friends, family, and business contacts.

For something so simple, there’s oftentimes reticence.

It isn’t uncommon to encounter folks who regularly attend Timbers matches, yet have never seen the Thorns play. Some expect the women’s game to somehow be less exciting, perhaps a less skilled performance, and therefore choose not to give the women’s game a chance. There was an uptick in popularity and interest after the U.S. Women’s Team became our beloved FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup Champions—an opportunity for a broader segment of the population to see that the women’s game is every bit as exciting as the men’s. But the off season is long, and a refresher may be needed. A modicum of gentle pressure can’t hurt, too.

Recalling Orwell’s words—”To see beyond the tip of one’s nose needs a constant struggle”—calls to mind the need to see beyond the exuberance, attendance, and enthusiasm in the North End, too. There’s a stadium to fill, and often pockets of seats are left unpopulated. This presents a great opportunity to bring in a group—whether officemates, friends, or helping facilitate the “best field trip ever”. Group tickets purchased from the Front Office are often comparable to, if not more affordable than, minor league baseball, Pac-12 (collegiate) basketball, and major junior ice hockey. The benefit of PTFC over any of those is experiencing not the up-and-coming, or maybe-someday stars, but women at the absolute pinnacle of their careers. Pro sports in every sense of the phrase.

Portland Thorns support is a big tent, as well. There’s room for every type of supporter and personality. Don’t know two-stick from chopstick? That’s fine. Thought tifo was an acronym? No big deal. Can’t breathe around goal smoke, or prefer to remain seated? There’s plenty of space outside the North End. Single? You get your pick of seats. Have a family in tow? Admission is cheap. But most importantly: there’s a place for everybody; all are welcome. (Or, to quote former goalkeeper and now goalkeeper-coach Nadine Angerer, “Except Nazis. I don’t like them”.)

With a dynamic new coach in Mark Parsons, and new recruits like Icelandic National Team/FSU standout Dagny Brynjarsdottir, USWNT veteran Meghan Klingenberg, and Paris Saint-Germain star Lindsey Horan coming on board as well, PTFC’s 2016 prospects look brighter than ever. Coupled with beloved returning stars like Tobin Heath, Christine Sinclair, and Allie Long, we stand at the precipice of what may very well be the Thorns’ most exciting season to date.

Growing the game is an effort we can all participate in—and it’s fun, too. Every single supporter/fan can and should commit to bring at least one first-timer to a Thorns match this year—whether they’re North End, South Deck, Value Terrace or “prawn sandwich” territory. It’s a great way to support the club, and one can be confident that their first match likely won’t be their last.

You’d better buy some extra scarves.

Jul 062014

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.