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Hammered Rivets: Downs and ups

After the Thorns match we take a brief look at happenings off the pitch.

The Thorns visited Seattle and suffered a 1-0 loss on a late goal by Jodie Taylor. Despite the result, it was an epic day for the Riveters.

More than four-hundred Portland fans attended the match at Memorial Stadium, the most we’ve ever mustered for an away game. There were three busses of Riveters who attended the Timbers and Thorns doubleheader, another bus for only the Thorns match, a large contingent of folks who traveled on their own, plus a fair number of TACO (Timbers Army Covert Operations) members who support Portland while enduring life in Seattle.

The bus ride up featured a pickup match between the “green shirts” and “not-green shirts” at the Scatter Creek rest area, won by the “not-green” team 7-6. Once in Seattle, we witnessed the Timbers beating the Sounders at CenturyLink, followed by a short but high-spirited bus ride over to Memorial where we met up with the other travelers.

Memorial Stadium is an interesting experience. The staff are very friendly, security is cursory, you can come and go as you wish. There is now a variety of tasty concessions with reasonable prices, by stadium standards. On the flip side, the bathrooms are dicey, the beer garden is totally inadequate for the demand, and the pitch is hard on knees and eyes alike. Unlike the last few visits, the Riveters were placed in the upper level behind the Thorns bench. This area features stairs with steps of uneven height and no railings, plus a laughable ADA area. Like prior visits, we are not allowed drums and profanity is very strictly prohibited. This did not dampen our spirits, nor lower our noise level.

This past weekend, the Utah Royals came to town for their last visit of the regular season. The result was a very refreshing 4-0 drubbing. After Lindsey Horan scored the second goal, the Riveters tried a new chant. “We Love Lindsey” to the classic I Want Candy by the Strangeloves. It went pretty well for the first time out. I imagine by the end of the season it will be very well rehearsed.

Kris Lattimore

No sooner had we launched into “Two Goals Beyond” than Ana Maria scored the third goal. The chant’s number was updated on the fly and the party atmosphere went up another notch.

Midge Purce suffered a gruesome injury to her ankle. Photos exist, but I will not subject you to them. Search at your own risk. There is no doubt that the disciplinary committee will review the incident. Any extra punishment to the Royals’ Diana Matheson will have to be announced quickly, as the Utahns have another match on Wednesday. After the final whistle, Midge accompanied the Riveters to the rose ceremony on crutches.

Kris Lattimore

She left on Christine Sinclair’s back.

The Numbers

Seattle’s attendance for the Thorns match was surprisingly small despite having 400+ visiting fans. There were 4,781 at Memorial. This was their second-highest gate for the season and about 800 more than their average. But it seems like this should have been their best turnout of the year – the Reign is in second place, it was a big rivalry match, the weather was fine. Perhaps the rigors of a two-match day, combined with the earlier loss, discouraged some Sounders fans from coming?

The Orlando Pride have solved their problem with low attendance numbers. They simply did not report it at their latest match. NWSL later gave it as 4,621, which makes Orlando’s gate down 39% from 2017. League-wide, attendance remains at up 13% over 2017 to date.

Historically, the league has better attendance toward the end of the season. In 2017, the weekly average attendance for the first half of the season was 49,603. For the last half, it was 52,056 – about 5% more. If that holds true for 2018, then we can project total league attendance in 2018 of about 650,000. This works out to 6% more than last year. Utah is the wild card – if they close out strong, the numbers could be better.

Incidentally, Providence Park drew 17,930 for the Utah match on a Friday evening. This is the second-highest gate of the season, a few less than the prior mid-week Sky Blue match. To date, Portland’s attendance is off 2.5% from last year. For the Thorns to match last year’s total attendance, we will need to see an average of 20,353 (a sellout is 21,144) at the remaining four home matches. So, I’m saying there’s a chance.

The game-of-the-week broadcast on June 30 was Orlando hosting the Courage, on Lifetime. For July 7, it was the Orlando-Washington contest on ESPNews. Neither broadcast cracked the top 150 for the day, so no ratings are available. Coming in at #88 and #93 on ESPN was a cornhole championship. It’s sad that (a) there is such a thing as a cornhole championship; and (b) that 470,000 people decided it was worth an hour of their attention; and (c) that real sports get pushed to minor channels without promotional support, in preference to such fare. [Ed. note: My neighbors play cornhole a lot during the summer. I can always tell because of the repeated THWACK! THWACK! THWACK! I’m forced to listen to, sometimes for hours on end. I have a feeling they’re the sort to have watched the cornhole championship.]

On the online front, the league has announced that starting August 1, all remaining non-televised matches will be available on for free and without geographic restriction. This is to compensate for the shuttering of GO90. Production will remain with Vista Worldlink. The league’s announcement said that Verizon has been a good partner and they hope to continue the relationship some other way in the future. Of course, ESPN+ will be another option to consider for 2019, but for now the streaming is coming in-house.

Up Next

Our next home game is Sunday, July 15 at 8:00 pm versus the eminently beatable Houston Dash. Gates will open at 6:30; the game will be shown on GO90. It’s expected to be hot, even that late, so bring your water bottle.

Onward Rose City!