SEATTLE, Wash. – This past weekend saw a unique confluence of Portland-Seattle soccer rivalries.
On Saturday, in NWSL action, Thorns FC beat Seattle Reign FC 2-1 on the strength of a Hayley Raso brace. Then on Sunday, powered by a Diego Valeri penalty kick goal, the Timbers earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC.
For some very dedicated fans of both teams, however, the weekend meant a rare chance to attend two away games by two Portland teams. A solid gathering of fans bused up Saturday for the Thorns, stayed overnight and then watched the Timbers on Sunday. There were stories about karaoke evenings, epic dinners, and gameday rallies for both teams.
For Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters friends Tyler McDonnell and Maria Cruz, the act of traveling north to Seattle to support their Rose City teams is all part of a greater sense of camaraderie and adventure.
Rose City Riveters/Timbers Army supporters Maria Cruz (left) and Tyler McDonnell (right) join with friends at CenturyLink Field (Photo: Kayla Knapp / Portland Timbers)
“Three hours on a bus up north is a total blast when you have everybody joking around, singing songs, everybody brings food, everybody brings different drinks,” said McDonnell. “Just yesterday, we had speakers playing “Africa” by Toto, multiple times, because . . . of course.
“As we get up [to Seattle], we see the skyline and we start chanting and we start singing. It’s a fun experience that it doesn’t feel like a trip away. It doesn’t feel like travel. It feels more like pregame.”
A pregame feeling was probably handy for McDonnell who said he got roped into capo’ing the Thorns game.
“I ended up missing most of it because I was facing the crowd,” he laughed.
For Cruz, who has done multiple Seattle away trips for the Timbers, as well as trips to Vancouver and as far away as Toronto, the weekend was her first for a Thorns away match. Part of what she says she loves about traveling to support her clubs is the people.
“Being able to travel and meet all these other supporters from other parts of the country,” she explained. “[There’s] that bond. That camaraderie. Getting to know those people and then when they visit Portland, recognizing them…It’s just really fun.”
Along with connecting with Timbers and Thorns fans in other cities, away day travel also brings with it opportunities to connect with supporters from the host city teams as well.
“Whenever I’m in Vancouver or Seattle or when I went to Toronto, we met up with a ton of fans of the opposing team,” said Cruz. “It was super interesting to get to talk to them about how they view our team and how they view their team and their chances to win the cup.”
And while the Portland-Seattle rivalry runs deep, that didn’t stop The Royal Guard, the Reign’s supporters group, from inviting the Riveters to a protest march on Saturday night after the game.
“They contacted us ahead of time and were like, ‘Look, I know we’re rivals, but this is for solidarity and to show that we all support the same causes for equality and to end racism,’” said McDonnell “It was really great that they reached out.”
All in all, the 180 combined minutes of Portland-Seattle rivalry soccer this weekend meant a great deal to those who journeyed to watch it all.
“It’s an experience for us not just as people, but as fans of the team to go and enjoy each other’s company and really get into the spirit of beating Seattle the right way,” said McDonnell.