The Thorns faced off against the Utah Royals for the first time, ending in a 1-1 draw on a lovely Tobin Heath chip. This was the first matchup of what may develop into a rivalry given the long history between the coaches, the former FCKC team, and the Thorns. For the Riveters, most of the fun was before the actual kickoff. This was the first away day of the season within driving distance.
Away Day Adventures
Several Riveters motored to Salt Lake City, including capo Alex and friends who took Mark Parsons along for the ride. Several stops were made for scenic photos. You can see the full collection on the #DrivingMarPar hashtag on Twitter.
In an excellent display of team play, the Utah Royals’ Court supporters and Rose City Riveters arranged a joint tailgate/meetup event. At the last moment, an oafish defender of the Court attempted a clumsy challenge. Fortunately, the Riveters’ away travel team was nimble enough to avoid the challenge and switch play to the other side of the field. A successful tailgate was still had, sans most of the Court.
The matter ended with this serenade.
The next day’s Salt Lake Tribune featured the match recap teaser atop page one.
The article referenced the sudden disinvitation of the Riveters to the tailgate and the social media uproar that ensued. This was perhaps not the type of coverage that the Royals wish for, but as the old saw goes, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. You can find the juicy details at the Oregonian or Salt Lake Tribune sites, and on Facebook in the Riveting or NWSL Supporters groups.
I counted 48 Riveters in the corner section which included some Portland fans who migrated there as the match progressed. The stadium was less than half full, so the adjacent section was left empty as a “buffer”. The buffer effect was nullified by our vociferous support. The Riveters had three drums (and 48 voices) and managed to drown out the larger Court with their two drums. This was partly due to us being placed under the roof, which amplified our noise, versus out in the open for the Court. I met several Court members (who were universally friendly, it should be said) and they commented that they could hear us better than they could hear themselves.
Rio Tinto Stadium is in a suburban area with freeways and malls, yet offers a beautiful view of the Wasatch mountains nearby. The facility is quite nice although I detected no evidence of tater tots.
Hailey Kilgore was nominated for a Tony Award for Lead Actress in a Musical for her role as Ti Moune in Once On This Island. The award ceremony is June 10 starting at 5:00 pm on CBS.
Among her many Oregon roles, Hailey graced the stage at Providence Park as a capo for the Riveters. She also sang the anthem many times for the Thorns. Now she’s moved to an even bigger stage. Win or not, this is a huge accomplishment for one of our own!
As mentioned, the Royals drew a smaller crowd than their opener – 8,446. This is still a respectable number and should only increase, especially if the team starts winning. Elsewhere, Orlando drew 5,058 which is better than last week but still down 24% over last year. The Spirit had 3,448 fans for their match – they are up 14% over 2017 and recently announced that they will play one match at the brand-new Audi Field in downtown DC. It happens to be against the Thorns August 25th. Houston initially did not report their attendance for North Carolina’s visit, but later announced it at a generous 3,591. They are down 6% versus 2017 which is maybe not too surprising for a winless team that has scored only one goal in five matches.
Overall, the league attendance is up 22% year-to-date versus 2017. While this is down 5% from last week’s figure, it is still considerable progress year-over-year.
The Houston-North Carolina game was Lifetime’s Match of the Week. The broadcast drew 156,000 viewers, less than last week but up from a few weeks earlier. In a departure from usual practices, the GO90 webcast of the Utah-Portland match used commentary audio from the local TV station’s feed rather than their own professional studio announcers. The result was a somewhat homer-ish and loud production without a knowledgeable WoSo presence or a female voice. The video direction was decently done, though.
Our first real rivalry match is the Lifetime Match of the Week on Saturday as the Seattle Reign come to town. Kickoff is at 12:30, gates will open at 11:00 am and the lines for coffee are likely to be long. Besides being Seattle, this game has extra spice with Allie Long’s return in enemy colors. Megan Rapinoe missed last week’s match with a sore hamstring; no word yet if she will take the field in Portland. The Thorns will still be without AD Franch, Hayley Raso, or Emily Menges (who is back in training, so there’s that).
Girls Inc. is the beneficiary of the Riveters’ matchday drive this week. Please bring school supplies like pencils, construction paper, and glue sticks to the Fanladen before the match to help struggling girls do well in school.
Onward Rose City!