A Ramble on Portland


One of theses things is not like the others. Can you guess which one?

15,418 in Portland
14,843 in Houston
13,667 in New York
9,928 in Colorado
9,082 in San Jose

OK so that was a trick question. Shame on me, I know. But disregard the four-digit number at the bottom and contemplate the five-digit number at the top because that is a Second Division side outdrawing half of the First Division sides this weekend. No matter which way you slice it (I prefer julienned) that is pretty f-ing special. It's like seeing Lupe Fiasco play the Garden while Weezy plays the state fair.

For years the Timbers have been one of the USL's better-drawing sides but now that they've got the scent of "promotion" about them, 2010 might be the year where they run the USL/NASL/AARP/Whatever-The-2nd-Division-Is-Called League attendance table. They'll have a tough fight with Montreal for the crown, but with the certainty about their MLS bid on their side they may have an edge.

Not that it's anywhere close to being the same thing, but before I moved to the East Coast I lived in London for a bit and was lucky enough to frequent The Cottage the year Fulham won promotion. That season, their final one outside of the Premiership to date, they won their first 11 matches IIRC with the likes of Eddie Lewis, Luis Boa Morte, Louis Saha, Marcus Heinemann and Chris Coleman suiting for the side. To say that the promise of playing at the top brought a new energy to the place, not only on the pitch but in the stands as well, is an understatement. At the beginning of the season 16 quid could get anyone into Craven Cottage without worry; but after the their Edson Buddle-esque start and a series of dominant performances that saw them start to run away with the league by Boxing Day, tickets were suddenly as scarce as a Landin goal. Hell, they even made the back pages of the London dailies a few times, a space normally reserved' for Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs et al.

Y'all know I have my allegiances but I honestly cannot wait for Portland and Vancouver to come in next year and make a Sounder sandwich in America's Upper 90 (I am coining that term for the region now before Who Are Ya? goes an makes a T-Shirt of it). Sh*t is going to be fantastic. The only question is will this beef be juicier than the I-95 rivalry between NY, Philly & D.C.? The west coast teams have hated each other longer but the east coast is home to America's most abrasive citizens so the banter/verbal abuse has the potential to be unmeasurable through current scientific means. I guess we'll get an answer next year.


Blake said...

"The only question is will this beef be juicier than the I-95 rivalry between NY, Philly & D.C.?"


It'll be the best in the league, until Toronto-Montreal becomes a reality.

AVURlacher said...

I've been following your postings for quite some time now. I'm Sounders 'til I die, and you could not have hit this any better.

PDX is most likely the best kept secret in the soccer nation. They call Portland soccer city U.S.A. and I only wish I could disagree. I've worked with them for a couple years now, always wearing an SSFC T-shirt under my dress shirt, and their support is inspirational. A bit rude at times, but that seems to be sought for the most part.

The Northwest is going to turn MLS on it's ear in 2011! Guarantee it. Both PDX and VWC will compete in their first year (Vancover being the better side). The rivalries (Cascadia Cup is back!!!), talent, passion, sellouts, will be something that American soccer has yet to witness in full.

These NW dreby's will be what vaults the MLS past NHL, and NBA as a legit major American sport.

Seattle Sounders here we go!!


Justin said...

Bro it's not going to be close. The Sounders - PDX pre-season friendly @ Starfire Sports complex in suburban Seattle drew more than RBNY regular season game at their precious new stadium. It's one thing to be rude. It's another for all of America to see 36,000+ screaming fans, rude or not.

ERic said...

Plus, there was already an incident of one team's supporter dragging another team's supporter around by his scarf.

Not the sort of behavior you'd expect out of the Upper 90(TM).

Rory said...

Portland will level out with over 10k in average attendance, possibly around 12-13k. Last years was just shy of that mark. This Thursday will be telling because they go up against a playoff home game with the Blazers. Still expect around 10k.

ericJ said...

Nice attendance Portland. I am a sounders fan but I am excited for PDX and VAN to get into the league. This rivalry > anything else in the league by a far far margin as far as I can tell. I am not one for blind hate of the opposite side, but the fact that others are will make great theater at times. Good on ya PDX, keep that attendance high!

Finnegan said...

Long time Timbers Army here. Was around when 20 of us lonely souls stood in a 80% empty stadium in 2001.

We had a vision once - to fill section 107 with supporters. That happened about 2005. Then we filled 106 and 108 n 2007. Then things just took off. Saturday night the entire North End was standing. Sections 102-111. Easily 3K, probably 4K singing and chanting.

Gave this old fart serious goose bumps.

I'm really not sure how much MLS is playing into it right now. We have been building like this for awhile. AND the MLS campaign has barely hit yet. I think we wind up in the 12K average range.

The commentator above is right. Thursday night will be telling. Going up against a home Blazers playoff game is about as tough as it gets.

Rory said...

Well Finn, I too was there back in 2001. Standing behind a few crazy guys banging drums. Didn't make it back to a game until last season (I lived in many places not named Oregon or America at times). It sure did start small and I'm proud to see it become this large.

Rory said...

Sorry. Those weren't drums. those were buckets! My things have certainly changed.