An enthusiastic crowd supported the Portland Thorns as they bested the Seattle Reign at the April 21 season opener. Photo by Shaley Howard.

An enthusiastic crowd supported the Portland Thorns as they bested the Seattle Reign at the April 21 season opener. Photo by Shaley Howard.

By Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly

One thing you can say about Portland is we love soccer. Based on record-setting crowd of 16,479 people at Sunday’s Home Opening game at Jeld-Wen Field, the Thorns are no exception. With a diverse crowd mixed with families, teenage “Rosie the Riveter” look-a-likes, and tons of women, I’m reminded of how much I love Portland.

The Portland Thorns Football Club is one of eight teams in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). This is the third time attempt at establishing a sustainable professional women’s soccer league in the United States and if Sunday’s game is any indication of what lies ahead, I’d say we’re in for a successful and enduring league.

The Portland Thorns. Photo by Shaley Howard.

The Portland Thorns. Photo by Shaley Howard.

Forward Alex Morgan and Defender Marian Dougherty both scored, each leading the Thorns to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Reign Football Club.  The Thorns dominated the field almost the entire game and are undefeated, placing them in first place in the league.

One of the most exhilarating and intimidating things about playing soccer at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field is the crowd.  With fans numbering almost 16,500, including the huge supporting group of the Thorns called the “Rose City Riveters,” you’d better bring some ear plugs because the 12th player roars!

“The reception that I have received and this team has received from Portland has just been unbelievable. They really came out tonight. [The fans] were the 12th person on the field,” Coach Cindy Parlow Cone said when asked about playing at Jeld-Wen. “This was awesome. I was walking around the field with Rachel Buehler and we looked at each other and she’s like, ‘This is like the World Cup!’ That’s what it felt like. It felt like that atmosphere we had at the World Cup and at the Olympics. It was an unbelievable atmosphere.”

Forward Christine Sinclair said she hopes the Thorns can use the crowd to their advantage.

“I think it can be intimidating as an away team, especially in this league because this is gonna be the only city that gets this type of crowd,” Sinclair said following the game. “When you haven’t been here before it’s intimidating. And hopefully we can punish teams in the first half before they get used to it.”

Every color of the rainbow seems to be represented in our Portland Thorns FC fan base. Sunday White, who is also the Thorns “Rosie the Riveter” leader, said it best when speaking about the Portland fans, the community they bring, and her experience.

The crowd at the April 21 Portland Thorns season opener. Photo by Shaley Howard.

The crowd at the April 21 Portland Thorns season opener. Photo by Shaley Howard.

“As an out, proud lesbian in a crowd of loud and raucous fans, I have found a family. Portland’s soccer fans — Timbers and now Thorns — are emphatic, passionate, joyful, motivated, supportive, and educated. A huge bouncing, flag waving, chanting pack of allies, and I am honored and proud to be one of the Army and the Riveters. So much planning and effort on the way to this opening match, and we have more work to do, but I feel we started off on the right foot.”

To learn more about the Rose City Riveters check out byanyothername.org.

The Thorns will be on the road for the next three games. The next chance to catch a home game will be Thursday, May 16.  Bring earplugs, because I’m certain Portland fans will be in the house again adoring and cheering on our Thorns.

For more information about the Thorns and their schedule go to: portlandthornsfc.com.

Shaley Howard is a sports writer for PQ Monthly as well as an athlete, sports enthusiast, and organizer of the annual HRC Women’s 3×3 Basketball Tournament. She is also is the owner and operator of Scratch N’ Sniff Pet Care, which she considers the best job in the world. Shaley can be reached at shaley@pqmonthly.com.

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