Skip to content

Morgan scores, Thorns win, but Portland’s crowd steals the show

Apr 21, 2013, 11:04 PM EDT

IMG_2847

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland Thorns FC came good on their home debut, dominating Cascadia neighbors Seattle Reign FC during a 2-1 win Saturday afternoon. Goals from Marian Dougherty and Alex Morgan gave the home team their first NWSL victory, but amid the post-match reflections the same, transcending theme kept emerging: The atmosphere made the match.

An NWSL record 16,479 people came out to what’s normally the Portland Timbers’ home field, and while record attendance in a two-week old league deserves a skeptical context, broader descriptions prove even more laudatory of the Portland’s support.

Saturday’s crowd out-drew any match from the three years of Women’s Professional Soccer, the professional league that preceded the NWSL. You have to go back to the Women’s United Soccer Association to find a women’s professional match that drew more people, and while a handful of crowds in WUSA bested the Thorns’ support, it’s been 10 years since that league played its final game.

“This was awesome,” was Thorns head coach Cindy Parlow Cone’s reaction after her first professional victory. A veteran of 158 caps during her time with the U.S. Women’s National Team, Parlow Cone has perspective on big games, experience that came in handy while trying to describe Sunday’s environment.

“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 was an unbelievable atmosphere.”

Packed into seats normally occupied by the Timbers’ Army, the Rose City Riveters were able to replicate most of the environment that makes JELD-WEN Field one of the more notable destinations in MLS. The crowd was noticeably different – a bit smaller, and more skewed toward a family demographic that’s stronger in the women’s game – but outdrawing the combined attendance for the league’s four opening weekend matches, Portland still created a landmark event.

“Over the past few weeks we’ve heard about the number of tickets being sold, but I don’t think any of us expected that,” Thorns captain Christine Sinclair said after the match. “It was just incredible.”

The numbers alone were impressive, but for the few international stars on the field – U.S. internationals Alex Morgan and Rachel Buehler, in particular – they’re numbers they’d see multiple times each year playing for their national team. What made Sunday different was the type (and depth) of supporter culture that’s been hard to come by in the women’s game.

“It was a great Portland vibe,” was how Morgan described it. “We weren’t sure what to expect, but right from when we went out (for) warmups until game time, you hear the fans loud. I think every team that comes to Portland will not want to play us because they will be intimidated by the atmosphere.”

Sinclair echoed the sentiment. If the Rose City Riveters can replicate Sunday’s performance, Thorns FC will have a distinct home field advantage.

“This is going to be the only city that gets this type of crowd,” Sinclair explained. “When you haven’t been here before, it can be intimidating. Hopefully you can punish teams in the first half before they get used to it.”

On Sunday, Thorns FC took their first lead of the season, a late first half goal that did the punishing Sinclair described. With momentum coming out of halftime, Portland put the game away with an early second half goal.

If that becomes a formula for success, the value of Portland’s crowd will transcend these opening day headlines. It will become something that matters on the field.

Latest Posts
  1. Southampton close in on $17.6 million signing of Virgil van Dijk

    Sep 1, 2015, 8:02 AM EDT

    Celtic v Malmo FF - UEFA Champions League: Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg Getty Images

    PST understands that Dutch center back is close to signing for Saints.

  2. Big Spenders: Which Premier League clubs must go all-in on transfer deadline day?

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:48 PM EDT

    Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC Arsene Wenger, Arsenal FC

    Three Premier League sides have some serious work to do on transfer deadline day. Who needs what?

  3. Top 5 reasons we’ll all miss Harry Redknapp on transfer deadline day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Harry Redknapp, wheeler-dealer Getty Images

    Harry Redknapp was the ultimate star of transfer deadline day. Tuesday will be a sad, empty day without Harry around.

  4. Done Deals: Recapping Man United (and others’) busy day — De Gea drama; Chicharito out; $56 million for Martial

    Aug 31, 2015, 7:39 PM EDT

    Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC Javier "Chicaharito" Hernandez & David de Gea, Manchester United FC

    Manchester United were the world’s busiest football club on Monday. They, along with others, made headlines ahead of the transfer deadline.

  5. NO DEAL: David de Gea’s transfer to Real Madrid falls through as Man United paperwork arrives too late

    Aug 31, 2015, 6:53 PM EDT

    150831_deGea Getty Images

    Manchester United failed to submit the necessary paperwork before Spain’s transfer deadline, and De Gea will not move to Real Madrid.

  6. MLS Player of the Week — Week 26: New York Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips

    Aug 31, 2015, 4:05 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls Getty Images

    Two goals, one assist in a 3-0 victory over your club’s most hated rivals — more than enough to win POTW honors.

  7. MLS Team of the Week — Stars of Week 26

    Aug 31, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bradley, Toronto FC Michael Bradley, Toronto FC

    Two Bradleys, two from Crew SC and two from the Dynamo — the latest MLS Team of the Week.

  8. Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Mahrez to Arsenal, Witsel to Spurs

    Aug 31, 2015, 2:11 PM EDT

    Witsel Getty Images

    Yes, rumors know no season, but the transfer mill will churn out a lot less gossip after Tuesday’s end of the summer transfer season.

  9. Report: De Gea moving to Madrid as Costa Rican hero Navas heads to Old Trafford

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:42 PM EDT

    David de Gea won Manchester United's Player of the Year award in what was likely a landslide. Getty Images

    Manchester United and Real Madrid have swapped goalkeepers, with the Premier League side landing a load of dough, too.

  10. VIDEO: Premier League Team of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 1:23 PM EDT

    Manchester City v Everton - Premier League Getty Images

    The UEFA Champions League clubs don’t find themselves well-represented in the Premier League Team of the Week after a weekend of shocks around Britain.

  11. Fireworks as transfer deadline passes in Germany: Draxler to Wolfsburg, Januzaj to Dortmund

    Aug 31, 2015, 12:32 PM EDT

    Draxler AP

    We’re still waiting to see whether Javier Hernandez seals his move to Bayer Leverkusen. “Chicharito” has been spotted around Bayer HQ.

  12. VIDEO: Premier League Player of the Week — Round 4

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:23 AM EDT

    Swansea City's Bafetimbi Gomis, left, celebrates scoring his side's second goal beside Manchester United's Luke Shaw during the English Premier League soccer match between Swansea City and Manchester United at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales, Sunday, Aug. 30, 2015.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham) AP

    The Black Panther is doing more than simply prowling; He is finishing his chances with style.

  13. Miami FC confirms AC Milan, Lazio legend Alessandro Nesta as first manager

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT

    Defender Alessandro Nesta slips on his new jersey after signing with the Montreal Impact soccer team, Friday, July 6, 2012, in Montreal. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson) AP

    The 2006 World Cup champion will organize Miami FC for co-owner Paolo Maldini during the club’s first season in the NASL.

  14. Premier League Playback: It’s time to change the Transfer Window rules

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:51 AM EDT

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 23:  John Stones of Everton applauds the fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park on August 23, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an in-depth look back at the PL weekend.

  15. Morning news: Jelavic medical for West Ham, ball in Borini’s court after Liverpool accepts bid

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:35 AM EDT

    Jelavic Getty Images

    It looks like we’re headed for a bonkers Transfer Deadline Day on Tuesday, and a trio of Premier League teams might be doing some under-the-radar business on Monday.

  16. Draxler, Pogba, Januzaj headline 10 deals to monitor as we near Transfer Deadline Day

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:33 AM EDT

    Queens Park Rangers v Burnley - Premier League Getty Images

    With the transfer deadline approaching its Tuesday conclusion, deals and rumored deals are hitting the headlines at a head-spinning rate.

  17. Mexico’s Chicharito departs Manchester United; Will he reclaim his form in the Bundesliga?

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Manchester United's Javier Hernandez keeps the ball from Newcastle's Cheik Ismael Tiote during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday Dec. 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Jon Super) AP

    This Little Pea went to market, reportedly finding a new home in the Bundesliga (And did he really ask for $135k per goal from West Ham?).

  18. Manchester United to add new $56 million striker as Monaco’s Martial leaves France duty

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:10 AM EDT

    VALENCIA, SPAIN - AUGUST 19: Anthony Martial of Monaco looks on during the UEFA Champions League Qualifying Round Play Off First Leg match between Valencia CF and AS Monaco at Mestalla Stadium on August 19, 2015 in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The French federation says Martial was given permission to leave camp by Didier Deschamps, and that he’ll sign a contract with United.

  19. MLS Snapshot: New York Red Bulls 3-0 DC United

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Bradley Wright-Phillips, New York Red Bulls AP

    A complete performance from the Red Bulls, who will finish the season unbeaten against their Atlantic Cup rivals.

Featured video

MOTD: United's offensive struggles