Fans flocked to welcome home the world champions in the National Womens Soccer League this week. The tough part will be keeping them coming
Wednesdays match had been over for 20 minutes when hundreds of girls, holding posters and T-shirts and patiently standing at a rail that separated the bleachers from the pitch, spotted their favorite player and began to shout as one: Car-li! Car-li! Car-li! Car-li!
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Carli Lloyd, the 37-year-old captain of Sky Blue FC and a veteran of four Womens World Cups, would sign autographs and pose for selfies, because that is what she always does. There was a big difference, though: Lloyds team had just played before a loud and rare sellout crowd.
Sky Blue FC had expected a big crowd for the first home game since Lloyd returned from the Womens World Cup in France. But the grandstand at Yurcak Field, a soccer ground on the campus of Rutgers University, was filled with 5,003 fans, three times the size of an average turnout at home.
The biggest thing is just kind of making everybody aware that we do have a league, Lloyd said after the 1-0 loss to the Washington Spirit in the eight-team National Womens Soccer League. There are a lot of people who have no idea that there is a National Womens Soccer League, a womens soccer league. There are some kids I had interactions with who had no idea that theres a league. Thats a problem. We need to make sure everyone is aware.