Thorns FC!

Soccer City USA

Soccer City USA

Thorns FC! (clap, clap) Thorns FC! (clap, clap)

We became just a little more “Portland” this weekend. Attended our first professional soccer match at Providence Park, joining in the positive vibes as the Portland Thorns Football Club defeated the Western New York Flash 1-0, on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The Portland Timbers, the men’s team, has a rabid fan base known as the Timbers Army. The Thorns, who play in the National Women’s Soccer League, have the Rose City Riveters. Both are grassroots groups embodying the spirit of Portland — feisty and fun.

The Rose City Riveters radiate good vibes from the north end of the grandstand at Providence Park.

The Rose City Riveters radiate good vibes from the north end of the grandstand at Providence Park.

The Riveters sit (well, mostly stand) and cheer in a section at the north end of the stadium, decked out in Thorns scarves and T-shirts, waving flags and singing songs, all led by a trio of energetic citizen cheerleaders. It’s fun to watch, even from a few sections away, and the vibe is contagious.

Lori and I agreed it was a wholesome, totally inclusive atmosphere with young families, teenagers, Boomers, hipsters, plenty of same-sex couples and lots of young girls in soccer T-shirts. A real slice of Portland.

Both the Timbers and Thorns are very popular, and it felt like we were initiated into the “club” that supports both teams. Of course, it wouldn’t be Portland without some concessionaire choices that reflect the city’s love of food. Lori had a charcuterie box from Olympic Provisions and I went for the grilled cheese special of the day — carne asada with pepper jack cheese and grilled onions on Dave’s Killer Bread. (Somehow, I passed on the mac ‘n’ cheese hot dog.)

Great seats, great action.

Great seats, great action.

The game itself was low-scoring but still full of action, with the game’s only goal scored on a header by Allie Long.

How cool to see what the seeds of Title IX planted so many years ago have brought us in the way of skilled, dedicated women athletes who no doubt have grown up playing the sport.

The Thorns’ roster is sprinkled with players from around the globe — United States, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, even Equatorial Guinea — and includes at least five who’ve represented their national team in the Olympics.

They are quick, agile, nimble-footed, tough and good sports, too. After 90 minutes-plus of a hard-fought game, the two teams came together at midfield to exchange what appeared to be genuine hugs and handshakes.

Souvenirs.

Souvenirs.

The only glitch came in getting there. We were on the bus headed to the game when I realized I’d left the tickets at home. We got off, I dashed through the Lloyd Center mall near our home, snatched the tickets and caught another bus, knowing Lori would re-board where I’d left her off. We transferred to the light rail and it dropped us off right at the stadium. We missed the national anthem, but got to our seats just in time for the 4 p.m. kickoff.

After the game, we caught the train half a block from the stadium, packed in amongst hundreds of other happy fans. Later, savoring cool drinks in the early evening, we marveled at how lucky we are to live in a neighborhood with such easy access to downtown and our city’s major sports venues. No pre-game parking hassles and no post-game traffic snarls. Just a quick hop onto the train, a single bus transfer and we’re let off a few blocks from home. Easy.

The Thorns play a 20-game schedule from April to September, followed by the league playoffs. They were league champions two years ago. Maybe this year will bring them — and the Rose City Riveters — another championship.

Crowd photograph: Shaley Howard, PQ Monthly,

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