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.