Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington are separated by the massive Columbia River, which serves as the state line, but the two have a shared history and shared love of soccer. Founded in 2014, just before entering into the regional soccer league EPLWA, Vancouver Victory have built up a fanatical base of support and even won their league in just their first five years of existence. The club is housed at the Harmony Sports Complex, where they play their games and share training facilities with the Washington Timbers youth academy. Sean Janson, Executive Director of the Washington Timbers, also serves as General Manager of the Victory and was gracious enough to answer my questions about who they are and where they’re headed.
Starting from the start; when, why, and by whom was the Vancouver Victory founded?
Vancouver Victory FC were Founded in 2014 by Barrett Goddard. To provide Vancouver, Washington our own team to root for.
What League do you play in? Do you have a rival or a club you really look forward to playing against? Are there club's outside of your league who you'd like to play a friendly with?
We play in the Evergreen Premier League Washington. Don't really have a rival club but always look forward to playing FC Mulhouse (NPSL. Portland, Oregon) and Lane United (USL League 2. Eugene, Oregon) in friendlies.
Running a soccer club can be turbulent, in the best of times, how do you continue to operate in this market with big clubs like the Timbers and Sounders? How important are matchdays and merchandise to the operational budget?
Matchdays are very important to the budget but most importantly is our partnership with Muchas Gracias Mexican Food. Their sponsorship is really what allows us to provide this team to our community. We feel like Timbers and Sounders increase interest in the sport and therefore the Victory benefits from their presence.
Are you connected to a youth program? A women’s program? Are there funnels for young boys and girls to go from youth sides into the first teams?
Yes, the Washington Timbers FC now owns and runs the Vancouver Victory. Our interest in the team is primarily to provide our alumni who are off playing in college somewhere a place to play when they come for the summer. We certainly enjoy providing our community a quality team to follow but that's not the primary reason we're doing it. We also have a women's team, the Washington Timbers Women's 1st team, who play in the NW Premier League. Both teams serve as teams for our youth to aspire to.
A big part of soccer culture in the Pacific Northwest is Supporters Groups; you do have one, how important are they to the matchday experience? Do they travel with the team from time-to-time?
Yes, VNC are great supporters of the team. I initially met these guys when they started supporting Clark College. They do make the occasional away game and their presence at home games really makes for a great atmosphere.
The Vancouver/Portland soccer market is huge, are there any aspirations to take the Victory up a notch, to a NPSL, UPSL or NISA level of play? What would it take to accomplish that?
There's always talk of taking that next step but as GM of the team and Executive Director of the youth club I'm very hesitant at this time. We are fulfilling our mission of providing opportunities to athletes, I would need to see how a change in league would further fulfill that mission to warrant the extra cost and work. We are planning a major upgrade to our home, Harmony Sports Complex over the next couple years which will completely transform the parking area and the entrance and exit of the facility. Once this is done, we will start to look at other improvements that may better position us to make a leap of this sort. In the mean time we will try and win as many EPLWA trophies as possible.