Celebrating a title in style: The Thorns end a difficult season with a joyful rally
The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie M. Peterson, Nov. 7, 2022
One more NWSL championship post before we all move on to the USWNT’s final games of the year.
I was able to go to Tuesday night’s victory rally for the Thorns as a Portlander and a fan of women’s soccer. I (mostly) left my AP side at home, but I also wanted to say thank you to some of the players for their help and cooperation this season.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley all addressed a nice-sized sized crowd, considering the weather and the fact that it was a school night.
I can tell you one thing: Everyone needed the celebration. Yes, the Yates report is still hanging over the club, and yes, there are still calls for Merritt Paulson to sell the team.
But for the evening we were able to put that aside and all revel in the dropped F-bombs from Megan Klingenberg, Christine’s Sinclair’s shout-out to Santa for a shot and Olivia Moultrie’s proclamation that her her lawsuit was totally worth it.
In case you missed it, here’s Sinclair:
Again, Klingenberg is a treasure:
Below you’ll see some of the comments off the stage from Becky Sauerbrunn.
Thought I’d also touch on attendance, since the 2022 season is in the books. Good news! It was another season of growth. The league averaged 7,894 per game, up from 5,528 last season. I’m encouraged, although I will say that last season we were coming out of a pandemic, and this season Angel City’s launch boosted the overall numbers.
Angel City averaged an amazing 19,105 fans this season. Worth cheering for! Better than 14 Major League Soccer teams and eight Major League baseball teams (other pro men’s teams are still in season, so it will be interesting to look at hockey and the NBA).
Portland, despite the calls for a boycott, averaged 15,543 fans, up from 14,391. Racing Louisville was the only team that dropped, from 6,610 in 2021 to 6,048. The wave were at 8,729, but I’m guessing the games ad Torero Stadium (Sorry fast Eddie!) kept that low. BTW, here’s the source for the data.
Fixe at The IX: Becky Sauerbrunn!
Question: Is there a word you can think of that sums up this team?
Sauerbrunn: I can send up the team in one word and I would probably say resilient because I think we’ve had some ups and downs this year and I think a lot of things that we’re still processing and going through right now as a group, but when it came to getting the job done on the field, I thought we did a pretty good job of that.
Question: Anything you want to tell the fans?
Sauerbrunn: Oh, just a huge thank you. I mean, I have not played my entire career here in Portland like Christine Sinclair. And so I know what it’s like to play against this team and to play again these fans and it was always one of those things on the schedule that you would circle the game at Portland because this is a really like a once in a lifetime type of environment that they create here. So thank you. Thank you fans.
Question: Is there anything about this season that maybe my fans didn’t see? Apart from the championship, was there a moment that kind of gets to the resilience of this team or that stood out to you?
Sauerbrunn: I mean, I think there are a lot of things that happen inside the locker room, a lot of very heartfelt, emotional and heavy conversations that we’ve had this year and last year that you know, no one else is really a part of, not even the coaching staff or the fans or even partners, loved ones and things like that. So we had a lot of things. We had a lot to process this year. There’s a lot of things that we’re still processing, but I would say that the candidness and the honesty that we found with each other in the locker room, I think actually bonded us even more. And I think that actually really came through this season on how we finished up the season. I think like it was said in the in the rally that we could have gone downhill we could have chained with everything that had happened, but instead we rallied and that’s a testament to the strength of this group.
Question, Along those lines, do you feel like you almost rallied in the face of adversity? In spite of it?
Sauerbrunn: I don’t know how to answer that. I haven’t really reconciled all my feelings with everything. And I think what we really wanted to do, and Klingenberg can attest to this more than anybody, is that we wanted to find joy on the field. In the face of adversity, I mean, it’s harder to find that joy. So we really concentrated on that. And every moment that we had of joy, we try to replicate it the next day and just keep growing and growing and building and building that and I think we found that joy.
Question: I know you’ve got friendlies coming up and obviously the World Cup next summer, but how much work are you going to be doing in the offseason on goalscoring? (Laughs).
Sauerbrunn: That’ll be primarily what I’m working on, because I just have to have all my celebrations down and I’ll practice those as well. But honestly, like I do practice scoring just because why not? I mean, you never know where you’re going to be certain place so yeah, I’d say like 85% of my offseason will be about scoring more goals (more laughter).
Question: Are you gonna catch Sinc soon?
Sauerbrunn: Maybe in the next lifetime!