Little Red Sign
– 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.