PORTLAND, Ore. — There was a sense of normalcy in downtown Portland Friday night.
"It's been a rough year-and-a-half and this is what we need right now," said Thorns fan Taylor Ferris. "I'm jazzed."
For the first time in a long time, fans trickled into Providence Park for a Thorns match.
"Super excited," said Thorns fan Tony Preciso. "It's been a long time, over a year. Super excited. Should be a lot of fun."
It was fun and odd.
Instead of standing together, fans stood and sat apart. This was one of the many safety protocols the club put in place because of COVID-19.
"It's going to be different but we'll be back and it'll be good," said Thorns fan Fina Preciso.
Fans are also required to wear masks. There is plenty of hand sanitizer around the stadium. And food and drink orders are cashless.
"I think it's good," said Thorns fan Jeremy Hammrich. "I feel safe."
That is more important than anything else, even more important than the energy the fans brought to the match. It did not go unnoticed.
"Without them it felt like our 12th person on the field wasn't there and it felt like the 12th person was back tonight," said Thorns player Meghan Klingenberg. "It was amazing. We loved it."
The only thing better would be a win. The Thorns delivered and defeated Kansas City 2-1.