The NWSL preseason is about a month away now. While the team holds tryouts and returning players start to get in shape, there's another group that's also warming up in the wings, the supporters group. Supporter groups are one of the aspects of the NWSL that aren’t always thought about much as they are growing. The best example in NWSL might be the Rose City Riveters, who back Portland Thorns FC. Sky Blue FC does have their own group that was established in 2015, and they are appropriately named Cloud 9. Once a Metro sat down with one of the leaders of Cloud 9, Jennifer Muller, to talk about the group's formation, how 2016 looks to be shaping up, and what it's like to support a NWSL team.
One of the first things on the agenda was the relationship between Cloud 9 and Sky Blue FC. "We have a very good relationship with Sky Blue" said Jennifer. "Last year was our first as an official club, and they were very supportive. This year, even more so. They know that a strong supporters club is important and they want to help our numbers grow. So, while we are an independent group, we work very closely with the club."
The club aren’t the only ones supporting Cloud 9, the players have been big proponents of Cloud 9. "It's been great. Many of them follow us on Twitter and will tag us from time to time. [Natasha] Kai has been amazing in that regard since the day she was announced. No one wants to play in front of a silent crowd. Even though our numbers are small at times, they appreciate the support." Jennifer told OaM.
It wasn't surprising to hear about Natasha Kai, a former Sky Blue player who is returning after a few years off, being brought up before she even played her first NWSL game. When OaM asked Jennifer if she was glad to have the Hawaiian forward back her answer came quickly. "Definitely! I'm so glad she's back. Not only for the sake of those of us who are fans of hers, but also for those who never had a chance to see her play. I think they're going to love the energy she brings. She's just flat out fun to watch. I think that's something this team needed."
A supporters club is only able to really work if the club and players work with it and thankfully that is the case on game days at Yurcak Field. The team has dedicated sections one and nine of the stands as supporters sections. In fitting with the Cloud 9 name, section nine was designated for home supporters while away supporters use section one. If you go to a game and hear some drums, don't worry, you aren't crazy, the group is allowed to bring the instruments into the stadium to add to their support.
Cloud 9 is looking to expand their reach in 2015. The group is hoping to host a road trip to at least one of the Washington Spirit games if possible. Road trips are a perfect chance to help the team by showing their support in their attendance and making it easier for fans to make the trip. Jennifer also added that the group hoped to make a pitch to their counterparts in MLS supporter groups to join them for some home games. They have also been putting the off season to use as they work on new chants for games.
On game day, anyone can join the members of Cloud 9 in Section 9 to support Sky Blue FC, but being a member ($20 fee) does get you a Cloud 9 scarf and ticket discounts. While 2016 memberships are not currently on sale, they are planned to be up very soon. You can follow Cloud 9 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; and find out more about the group through their website.