The Thorns did it again, beating Seattle for the second week in a row. The final score was 2-1. And now Portland will host the championship final. This is the first time since June 5, 1977—when the Blazers won Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Memorial Coliseum—that a major Portland team will contend for a national championship in Portland.
In keeping with the bonfire theme from last week’s regular-season closer, the Riveters hoisted a display of a gigantic match over a black field. Then a panel depicting a pair of sinister black welder’s goggles was raised. The lenses reflected the burning match, a red and black scarf covering the wearer’s face. The overall effect was intimidating, and the crowd responded.
If you’re curious about the scale of tifo, that match was 10 feet wide and 49 feet long. Or about the same dimensions as two of these nose-to-tail:
The banner gnomes had a few last-minute additions to the stadium walls.
After the match, emotions were running high.
This is my capo. This is real emotion. This team MEANS SOMETHING to people. This @ThornsFC team is magic. DUSTY IN HERE. #BAONPDX pic.twitter.com/X2hO9XRfcJ— Ray Terrill (@Rayterrill) September 15, 2018
There were hugs throughout the stands and on the pitch. Mallory Weber rolled Hayley Raso around the field in a wheelchair. She was welcomed at the North End with her chant and a rose crown. AD Franch also got a rose crown as the fans’ Woman of the Match, which she managed to catch with her head out of midair. Perhaps someone forgot to tell her that keepers are allowed to use their hands.
The semifinal was surprisingly poorly attended, considering the stakes. Sick of Seattle? Apparently the feeling was mutual, as I counted 28 people in a photo of the Queen’s Court in section 223. The 14,179 Thorns fans was the lowest turnout for a home match since September 7, 2016. However, the Championship Final game on the 22nd was sold out on Sunday. On Monday, more seats were released but will surely get snapped up fast.
The Portland-Seattle match was broadcast on Lifetime. Once again, the broadcast ratings failed to register in the top 150 airings for the day. Lifetime has one more chance with the Championship Final this Saturday. Between the collapse of GO90 and the poor TV ratings, 2018 has been a bad year for NWSL media even while physical attendance is strongly improved. Changes are needed in 2019.
This week is filled with events surrounding the final. There will be a work party to renovate the game room at the Boys and Girls Club in Hillsboro. There is a big pre-match party planned at Kelly’s Olympian downtown on Friday night. Several bands will play and there is a special raffle. Proceeds benefit Street Soccer USA. And finally, on Saturday morning, there will be supporters group pickup soccer at Wallace Park in NW Portland from 8:30–10:30. All of these events are open to all women’s soccer enthusiasts regardless of who you root for.
The Riveters are working on the last tifo for 2018 all day and into the evening Thursday. If you can make it out, especially during the day, please sign up.
We will see you, and sing with you, and scream with you, and either celebrate or commiserate with you, on Saturday at 1:30 pm.
Onward Rose City!