Providence Park was rocking all night! A crowd of 16,736 was on hand and it was Pride Night. The stands were filled with color. The early goal conceded did not dampen spirits as the fans sang and danced until the final whistle.
Governor Kate Brown, wearing an old-school Thorns jersey, oversaw the coin toss. One wag on social media speculated that her accidental poke in the eye to the center referee blurred his vision for the night.
The Riveters unveiled a three-part overhead tifo, comic book style, illustrating a rose growing back from being pruned. The banners behind read “Cut us down and we grow back. Stronger.” The season started with a celebration of the Thorns’ winning the shield. But as we all know too well, the shield-winning season ended prematurely. This display hints at the desire to recover from that wound and win the title.
While it was loud in the north end all evening, the volume during the two penalty kicks was dialed to eleven as the entire stadium joined in. Both kicks were taken in the north end goal and both times the crowd’s wall of noise may have affected the outcome. Sky Blue’s leading scorer missed the net, something she essentially never does. On the second occasion, the New Jersey goalkeeper may have been over-amped and gave up a soft rebound that our captain converted for a goal.
The go90.com color analyst, a British guy, expressed some surprise that the crowd remained until the end. Paraphrasing, he said, “In England, everyone would leave if the score got to 3-0 in the 88th.” He got that part right, but the broadcast was otherwise pedestrian. Go90 did not show any of the pregame festivities, yet the announcers talked extensively about the environment. They butchered many names: Angerer came out a garbled “Angrair”, Raso was “Rasseau”, AD alternated between Franch and Frawnch. The replay of the offside call on Horan’s waved-off goal was frozen by the VWL producer at the wrong moment, when Horan received it rather than when Henry kicked it. Incidentally, the live webcasts are no longer offered unrestricted on nwslsoccer.com since go90.com has fixed their technical issues. Now hopefully they will turn their attention to the production values.
The Riveters’ merch crew produced a couple special items for this match and the Pride Parade the day following. Aren’t they pretty?
The shirts sold out in an hour, but more are on the way. Speaking of the parade, the Riveters were well represented as we marched with the Timbers Army, bubble wands held high. Several Thorns were in the streetside crowd including Christine Sinclair, Nadine Angerer and Meghan Klingenberg. When the marchers noticed them, there was a group squee and general rush to the curb to say hello and give hugs.
A very unfortunate event occurred after the match ended. While the Thorns were arriving at the north end for the rose ceremony, Sky Blue sent their bench players out to run sprints. They chose to run directly to the north end goal, instead of crossing the field from their bench. The players then taunted the Riveters with butt-waggling and raised arms. Mind you, this was while the young women with Girls, Inc. were giving Christine her rose.
After one sprint, the coaches sent them out to do it again, and the second time they came all the way to the goalposts. Of course, the Riveters didn’t appreciate this and let them know. This display was incredibly tacky on two levels: (1) the players doing the taunting didn’t do the winning; and (2) the coaches should know better. It was, however, consistent with the chippy attitude displayed on the pitch, notably by O’Hara. This is something the Thorns would never do and Sky Blue’s supporters and management should be ashamed.
A little story from my younger days: I once helped coach a tween-aged girls’ softball team and for the first time ever, we got to the playoffs. It was a two-game format and in the first game we faced our nemesis, who started their second-string pitcher. We won the game and thought we were God’s gift to balls and bats. We arrived for the second game, full of pepper and taunts and even a mocking song. But we had to face their ace and we lost. It was a humbling experience, especially for us rookie coaches who should have known better, but didn’t.
I predict a similar fate for Sky Blue. Professionals don’t act like they just won for the first time. And smart people don’t poke the beehive, especially when they hope they’ll be back looking for honey again.
At least we’re now done with Sky Blue, hopefully until 2018. Next up is Washington Spirit away and, after that, it’s time to get on the bus for Seattle July 1. There are still a few seats left. For this trip at least, the juice bus was cancelled for lack of interest. If you want to go, you’ll have to suffer with free beer or cider. If you’ve never gone with the Riveters, I highly recommend it. There are still some sponsored (that means free) tickets for anyone with tight finances. Go to http://rosecityriveters.org/seattle-away-bus-tickets-and-more/ for tickets and details.
Onward Rose City!
Match report: Still All Even
Who did what? Providence Park Power Ratings
By Richard Hamje