Sunday, April 21, 2013

NWSL: Portland Sets A Record

The National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) kicked off last week, but the game everyone was waiting to see was Seattle Reign FC vs Portland Thorns FC, in the Thorns' home opener this weekend. Portland had confirmed they sold 7,000 season tickets (which is more than some NHL, NBA & MLB teams like the Marlins & A's), so people knew the crowd would be big. They ended up getting 16,479 fans in attendance at JELD-WEN Field, which is a record for the new league and an impressive number. The fans were able to leave happy, with the Thorns picking up a hard fought 2-1 victory, where US Women's National Team star Alex Morgan netted Portland's second goal. The game was fantastic, and the Reign played well even without Hope Solo & Megan Rapinoe, who will be back later in the season. Canadian star Christine Sinclair plays up front for the Thorns, creating quite the dynamic duo with Morgan.

The crowd was electric, with chants filling the stadium that could also be picked up well on the online stream, which used the radio broadcast for sound. The crowd was not mic'd up (which they need to do for future games), yet we could still hear some through the announcers' booth and get a taste of what it was like. Portland Timbers fans have really showed their support, so hopefully it spurs other MLS teams (such as Vancouver Whitecaps) to pursue an NWSL team. Let's also hope other NWSL teams will be able to learn from the Thorns and grow their fanbases as well. 

The supporters' group, the Rose City Riveters, deserve a ton of credit for helping to create such an involved environment that every team in the NWSL should strive to get. I don't live in Portland, but the energy of the fans have spurred me to become a Thorns (and Timbers) fan. I have no doubt in my mind that 16,469 is only a benchmark. I fully expect the Thorns to eclipse that number should they make and host a playoff game. 

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