Lumen Field: Seattle Reign vs. Utah Royals

Lumen Field: Seattle Reign vs. Utah Royals

It's a bit ironic that our final fourteenth stadium visit is one that's just a few hours drive from our home. We've considered coming up to Seattle many times in the past to see the Portland Thorns take on the Reign, but we never could quite line up our schedules with the 3-4 hour drive north.

Also? The bitter rivalry between the Portland Thorns and Seattle Reign is quite real. I felt a nervousness in the pit of my stomach when entering the stadium and seeing all these happy faces wearing Seattle Reign logos. I know the people wearing them are great and this is all in my head but their logo is like seeing a ship flying a pirate battle flag entering a calm bay that makes me feel tense and uneasy each time I see it.

It was a hottest day on record for Seattle, and an early afternoon start to the match. But the worst part of the experience was the stadium corralled everyone into the sunny side of the pitch so we'd show up as the crowd on TV in the background of play, while the shaded half of the stadium where we could safely enjoy the game was blocked off and heavily guarded by staff. I understand the games should look good and crowded on TV, but cameras love to have the sun at their back, which means several stadiums with lower attendance don't let you sit on the shady side of the stadium because that's where the TV cameras shoot from, and if everyone sat behind the cameras in the shade, the sunny side would look empty on TV.

So the NWSL risks heat exhaustion for thousands of attendees for better looking TV backdrops. They gave everyone a chamois cloth you could dip into water to help cool you off with a giant Seattle Reign logo on it, but sitting in any kind of shade would have so much better. Late in the game, shadows began to stretch to the open parts of the stadium and everyone flocked to what little shade was there.

I really like the scrappy new upstart Utah team so it was fun to see them go up by one early in the second half, but they played sloppy throughout and with so many shots on their goal and amazing saves it eventually ended in a tie when one got through.

What's next

This being our last stadium means it's time to get heads down and finish our write-ups, complete back-and-forth rounds with our editor, and start laying out the ebook. So far about half the book is drafted, a quarter of it has been professionally edited, but there's still a bunch of work to push it all over the finish line left to do.

I'm concentrating on writing over the next few weeks, spending long days in a library cubicle with noise cancelling headphones going through pages of post-game notes and photos while finishing off the bulk of the text. Our goal is to have it done by next month, ideally having the book available before the Summer break ends around August 25th.

We spent a day in fourteen different stadiums in fourteen cities all around the country in just ten weeks since we began the project. A big thanks to everyone reading along and helping support the project, it's been a fun journey and I've loved getting to realize a small dream of experiencing matches at every stadium in the league. But I'm also glad the intense travel schedule is behind us since it sapped our energy to swelter in 95ºF/35ºC stadiums for the past four or five games while running between airports and hotels trying to make it to the next venue.

I can't wait to share the experience and everything we've learned along the way. If you ever want to fly to a NWSL match at a new-to-you stadium, I guarantee our guide will make sure you have the best time possible as we'll share the mistakes we made along the way while pointing out the best places to stay and the fun things to do in each city along with the best places to sit in every stadium. It will become the guidebook I wished I had when I went to NWSL championship matches in places I've never been.