When the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders play a game there are usually two battles going on, one on the field and the other in the stands. Supporters of both teams are constantly trying to one up the other with the Tifo displays and with their chants. Last Sunday was no different but some outside force decided the TA was not worthy of being in the stands.
Full disclosure: Prost Amerika has this article and before they even posted that article I was already gathering the stories I will post below. Give the article a looksy as it is very interesting and gives a lot more background on what was supposed to happen.
I went to visit the TA supporters about 40 minutes before the game and in looking for my brother and Djshanks, who rode up with us, I noticed a couple of things. I saw two stewards pointing and talking amongst themselves about how one fan in a red shirt was one to watch for. Intrigued by this comment I looked up and watched the fan for a minute or so and all I saw was something I had seen at almost every single sporting event I have ever attended. A boisterous fan who was yelling at the opposing fans. He wasn't cursing or threatening any fans but he was hurling the usual Sounder epithets that Timbers fans hurl.
After witnessing that I shrugged my shoulders and continued to snap pictures and look for Kejsare. Seeing he was not in the 100 section I moved up to the 300 section and started looking around. While looking I started talking to a sheriff and one of his first comments to me was "We already had to remove someone." Which I didn't think was anything worth noting at the time.
After my conversation with the Sheriff I finally found Kejsare and Djshanks and handed them the keys to the car so they would not have to stand outside the car while I finished the post game routine. I then went back to the press box and thought nothing of my two experiences. Little did I know I would receive a text later in the game which prompted me to read all of the stories after the game.
As I watched the game and threw out some live Tweets I received a text from my brother. It read:
Both djshanks and I almost got thrown out.
I replied with surprise and asked for any information he could give me but he didn't text me back so I slowly forgot about the text until I saw them after the game. I asked djshanks to give me his version of what happened and it is as follows:
As for the steward, it was a lady. I didn't bother to write down her id. The guy in front of us was singing just like everybody else. She started complaining that he was being too loud and rowdy and that if he didn't quieten down, he would be thrown out. I said to her that he wasn't causing any trouble and that we'd paid good money to be here unlike the Groupon fans around us. She got pissed at me at that comment and asked for my ID. I said no and she said she'd get a cop to throw me out. Kejsare then joined in. He said something about how the Seattle fans in Portland were being obnoxious. I think she thought he told her to f**k off so she asked for his id and told him he should leave. He said no. She then got the big bouncer guy next to her to evict Kejsare. He came over and asked Kejsare to leave. Kejsare explained that he hadn't sworn at her. Kejsare and I talked to the bouncer, defused the situation and he went away. The lady steward then moved to a different area and the guy stayed close to us but never said anything else.
She was definitely heavy handed with us and wanted to try to use her authority to intimidate us but it didn't work. I can also see why she'd be pissed at us as we were all loud and were singing songs that weren't complimentary to Seattle such as "move to Oklahoma" or "Seattle Sonics" but we never hit anyone, threw anything or broke anything. There were lots of Seattle fans flipping us off or shouting at us, both in the stands and on the concourses but hey, that's what happens when you go to away games.
We laughed about it afterward especially when my brother had this to say after the whole ordeal was explained.
Great, you're going to throw out the Mormon kid who's probably one of the only sober person in the stadium
I thought that would be the end of it but after my mom went to work and talked with another TA member who works at her school she learned about something even worse. I asked my mom to ask him to send me an email with what happend to him and what happened to another TA member. smorris793 sent me this:
This is what I sent to 107ist when they asked for feedback. I did leave out the part about the guy in ,my bus who was kicked out. I only heard his side, but he was sober and seemed like a reasonable fellow so I don't doubt the veracity of his account. He said that round the 80th minute he had gone out to use the restrooms and when we walked by a merchandise stand he asked someone if they gave a discount on gear after the team lost on the first round of the playoffs. A woman turned around and told him in a harsh tone not to be negative in front of her kids. He replied that he was merely asking a question, to which she responded by finding the nearest stadium staff and accusing him of cursing at her kids. The staff member told him he needed to leave the game without asking for his side, the entire time the woman kept yelling at him (in front of her kids). Fortunately he was very compliant, and just kept saying something to the effect of "I didn't swear at or in front of any kids, but if you really feel you need to kick me out then go ahead", This was in the 80th minute so the game was well over and he didn't mind, especially since it was clear to him that the goal of the sounders fan and staff was to get him kicked out of the stadium, not diffuse the situation.
Overall I was extremely disappointed with how we were treated by staff. Their fans were actually OK for the most part (I went to grab a beer with a buddy before kickoff and was shocked that no one heckled us on our 20 minute walk)
Here is what happened to him directly:
I was in the first row of the 300s. During the game I had no issues with the staff. At one point I went on a curse-filled tirade towards the ref which made one guy turn his head at me, but to my relief he didn't say anything.
After the game was a totally different story. I was in the first cluster of folks leaving, and the security personnel clearly had no plan on how to get us to egress. One guy wanted to go one way (the way we came in) but was shouted down by a co-worker. So we went to another ramp, where I think they tried to get us to stop, for some reason. I couldn't hear instructions so I kept walking, and saw a security guard yelling at one of our fans. The fan was trying to disengage but their guy wouldn't get out of his face. Somehow a group of maybe 12 of us got separated and herded into the 200 level concourse (I think) where we were ordered to stay. There were a few stadium personnel a few security guards, and two armed police officers. As we waited a number of seattle fans mocked us as they passed. We didn't say a thing, and nothing was said to the fans by security either. After a 10ish minute wait we were finally reunited with our group, and started out again. When we got to the ground level we were again stopped for no apparent reason. At this point the game had probably been over for at least 40 minutes. We were irritated and they offered no explanation for the circuitous exit or delays in letting us out. When we finally made it out security stayed behind and we were dumped on a street with a long walk to the buses. There was a lot of heckling and fortunately didn't see anything egregious happen, but it seems they should have taken us all the way to the buses. Overall I was pretty disappointed in the entire trip from their end. Splitting us up seemed un-necessarily dick, and it took way too long to get out of the stadium. Every time we asked for an explanation they blamed it on "our people".
All of this points to a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. If this kind of treatment continues you can see something that Don Garber has worried would happen and that is a soccer fight that gets out to the media. MLS would then have Soccer Hooliganism attached to it and that is a very difficult stereotype to shake off. I know a lot of stadiums have security guards hired from outside and only on a part time basis but whoever they hired were abusive and loved to use their power to intimidate.
I really think the biggest reason this was messed up so much was the fact that they split the TA into two different levels. It seems most of the incidences occurred in the 300's and not the 100's. If they had the TA all in the 300's then their safety would be easier to ensure. This is something the Portland FO actually got right while Seattle's got wrong and I hope to see a major change next time Portland visits Seattle.