XI WoSo Moments of 2016: Pride set NWSL attendance record

Dan Lauletta December 19, 2016 56
The new NWSL single-game attendance record belongs to the Orlando Pride, who hosted 23,403 fans on April 23rd at the Citrus Bowl.

The new NWSL single-game attendance record belongs to the Orlando Pride, who hosted 23,403 fans on April 23rd at the Citrus Bowl.

The Orlando Pride played their debut match April 17 in Portland. They lost that match 2-1 but six days later—April 23, 2016—they trumped their more seasoned NWSL sisters when 23,403 came to the Citrus Bowl (the venue changed names to Camping World Stadium the following week) for the club’s home opener. The crowd set an NWSL single game record previously held by the Thorns.

“It’s exciting.  It’s good for the city,” Gordon Human told The Equalizer while tailgating before the game with his seventh-grade daughter.

Human was one of thousands of fans who arrived early and set up shop in one of the surrounding parking lots. Some were lined up in their cars before the parking gates opened. Once inside the record crowd put on a boisterous performance matched only by the Pride’s three-goal outburst in a 3-1 victory over the Houston Dash. One year after Orlando City SC took Major League Soccer by storm, the Pride were doing the same to NWSL.

The massive crowd, which established a record in part because the Thorns are capped by the 21,144 capacity at Providence Park, proved to be more of an anomaly than a new standard. Shortly after the press release went out declaring the new record, Pride owner Phil Rawlins suggested the team would settle in somewhere around 13,000 for the rest of the season. But none of their remaining matches cracked five figures.

The Pride still managed to finish 2016 with an average attendance of 8,785. That is less than the smallest Thorns crowd across four full seasons but still stands as the highest single season average for any team besides the Thorns. The average extracting the opening day record still beats out any other NWSL team average for any of the four seasons.

Next season will see the Pride move into their new downtown stadium which should offer a fresh barometer on attendance. There will be enough seats to one day eclipse their single game record. But for as long as the Orlando Pride play soccer, the night of April 23, 2016 will remain a special one for the team and the league.

Coming Tuesday — the second of our XI WoSo Moments of 2016

  • guest

    Alex giveth, and Alex taketh away. Sort of like her equalizer/missed PK situation in the QF.

    • Steglitz49

      Alexandra the Great put her shoulder to the NWSL wheel from the day go, unlike some of her colleagues who swanned off, including one who could not be bothered to play in a semi-final for the Championship and another sat out a whole season.

      Alex may be forgiven for wanting to master the art of the French kitchen. Whatever better place than the gastronomical capital of France.

      Blessed be Alex’s name, lauded and magnified, ever one bodypaint stunt, WoSo without end.

  • Som Termanni

    > The average extracting the opening day record still beats out any other NWSL team average for any of the four seasons.

    7,161. The previous non-Portland highest average was Houston in 2015, at 6,413, or 748 fewer per game than Orlando.

    Orlando’s median, including the opener, was 7,195. The 2015 Dash’s median was 6,114.

    Orlando not only failed to reach 10,000 after the opener, they never reached 9,000, reached 8,000 only once in their second home match, and failed to reach 7,000 three times. In one match, they drew only 5,870, or less than 10 percent of Camping World Stadium’s capacity.

    The fact that this was the second-strongest showing of any team in league history, even without the opener, is a blight on the league more than a credit to Orlando. By the team’s own metrics, 7,000/game is a disappointment. By any other team but Portland’s metrics, 7,000/game would be >10% growth; for Sky Blue, it would be nearly 325% growth.

    How can the NWSL field teams that are only marginally more successful than independents with a fraction of the resources? Apparently, the answer is continued MLS affiliation without equivalent investment from SUM.

    If increased NWSL attendance is required for better player wages (as Gulati has explicitly stated), and Orlando is drawing just more than half on average of what ownership expected to draw, the league needs to realize that the teams really do need help from the league, not the other way around, even if some of these teams have several times more money than the league or USSF at their disposal.

    • Steglitz49

      Thank you for this exegesis. Mr Micawber’s principle still applies.

      If it costs $4m to run a WoSo team and you are to rely on receipts at home games alone, then if you clear $20 per woman, man and child that attends, you need 16,700 per home game if there are 12 games per year. At $40 profit per person, you get away with 8,400.

      Any shortfall must be made up by either sponsorship or sugar/daddies. go find them!

    • USMNTfan4life

      Orlando’s attendance will continue to fall. WoSo is not financially realistic in terms of being successful. If MLS makes more money, and they can compete with the Euro-based teams for talent, then the leftover monies can be used to for NWSL teams.

      The Dash cannot sell out the lower bowl with WWC MVP Carli Lloyd. I think the NWSL team for LAFC may draw 10,000 for a bit, but I think that will fall too. I have seen a few games on Youtube, and it looks so sad when no one shows up for games, even a game with Orlando (Lloyd v Morgan). That should tell people something.

      WoSo is not going to be financially successful until MLS has enough funds to achieve its own goals, and help out the NWSL.

      • Steglitz49

        Thank you. The questions not asked include:
        — How is it possible to get so many spectators to the opening match and then not sustain it? Instead a marked fall-off.
        — The NWSL Championship match in Portland in 2015 drew less than Portland averaged that seaosn. Less, not more. What does that mean? The Final in Houston in 2016 drew even less. Why?
        — If WoSo must live off MLS-hand outs and crumbs, is it really WoSo?

        Another way to look at it is that in the 2016 SBC the matches were double headers to disguise the fact that hardly anyone showed up for the matches not involving the US. That may sy more about pro-WoSo in the US than the fans might like to hear.
        — Thank goodness for the USWNT. Even playing tomato-cans, ticket prices can be high and the money used to line the pockets of the WNT players and some crumbs thrown to the NWSL crew.

        • USMNTfan4life

          What is the “2016 SBC?” Is that the SheBelieves Cup?

          • Steglitz49

            Yes. It was a friendly tournament between the US, England, France and Germany. The US won all its matches.

      • mockmook

        How is being subsidized by the MLS a financial success?

  • guest

    Meanwhile in New Jersey, CL10 is officially committed to bieng a forward. Her goal is to become “the best striker in the world” by 2019.

    • Steglitz49

      Meanwhile, Pernille Harder has signed with the Shewolves, as had been expected for a while.

      Rumors have it that Stina Blackstenius will go to PSG.

      Watch this space.

      • Guest

        isn’t there some swedish soccer site you can troll on?

        • Steglitz49

          Please register yourself so we can follow your comments.

          Pernille Harder is Danish btw.

      • A_Dog_Without_A_Clutch

        PSG doesn’t need her.


        Truth be told- PSG was VERY lucky.

        Fun Fact: Luck be indeed a lady and her name be Irene Paredes.

        • DNG

          I would say that OL is still the superior team. They outplayed PSG and were unlucky on a number of occasions not to score. sometimes that’s what happens. The reason it hasn’t happened to OL often is because there are so few teams anywhere that can even frustrate them.

          I think PSG could use some upgrades. Adding Amandine for 3 months would be a good addition. They could also use some more width.

          • Steglitz49

            I doubt that Patrice Lair is into having guest appearances for 3 months. I suspect he would rather sign young players on 1+1 year contracts.

            Lair would be a fool not to sign Blackstenius. He also could trawl the NCAA college seniors or look for players in French-speaking Africa.

          • DNG

            I suspect you’re right about Lair preferring to develop players. I think he’d make an exception for Henry considering he’s spoken to this already. He wants her even for 3 months.

          • Steglitz49


            I guess if all sorts of WoSo players can swan off to Australia for half the year to frolick in the sun, Amandine could no doubt help Patrice out at PSG for a few months before the NWSL starts again.

            I presume Amandine will play for France in Euro-17.

        • Steglitz49

          Welcome back, Dog. Why don’t you fix that clutch so your stick-shift runs on the roads again?

          We discussed the PSG-Lyon match in one of the other comment strings. I was the one who reported the final score but others helped out too.

          I agree with DNG’s analysis. If PSG is to consistently go somewhere, they must upgrade and preferably with younger players. Some of those could be foreign.

    • Nild

      Where did you read this?

    • Reality

      Lloyd has been “committed” to being a pseudo-forward ever since at least OG2015 and has leveraged her performance in that final to successfully lobby Ellis to support her by making her Captain and allowing her free rein to roam at will on the pitch to shoot at the net regardless of how that affects the team play or player development or effective strategy.

      Perhaps there should be a award for the “Most Self-Centered Captain in USWNT History”.

      • Steglitz49

        Once the order of the 3 is revealed at that knees-up in Zurich, it will be interesting to see who voted for whom.

        Seeing that Carli’s is the only one whose name does not start with an M, maybe that is an omen. Oth Melanie Behringer has not won it before, so it could be that she is infront.

        • Tom F

          It’s hard to believe Behringer will be voted best player in the world, she’s a slow midfielder even by German standards. She’s got an excellent in free kicks and gets to all the pk’s. Neid definitely deserves coach of the year. She won this year’s big prize even though she had one of poorest CB pairs in recent memory Bartuziak & Krahn. Even though I didn’t like her chess game mentality along with her slower, short pasing game at times, she’s a better choice than John Herdman who brings a more physically brutal.style to woso

          • Steglitz49

            This year it will be extra interesting to see how the votes were cast.

            I suspect that Carli will get the popular vote seeing that 315m Americans is over 100m more than 200m Brazilians who in turn are 120 m more than the Germans. As for Sweden’s 9.5m — forget it!

            It would be a scandal if Carli won it. If Marta were to win POTY again, one could not complain. Melanie may have been hampered by there being two other Germans in the running.

            As for COTY, your point that Neid is likely to get it is well taken. I suspect that Pia may get the nod simple on account of how the team turned itself around. As for herdman, your points are again well taken, but Canada did perform very well and might well have beaten Sweden.

      • anon

        yeah but this sounds like she is no longer a “pseudoforward” or “kind of midfielder”… she is officially playing forward. which makes sense since she can now just pull a Wambach and hover near the box… midfielder is more physically demanding. that aside, i don’t really have a problem with someone else playing attacking mid, to be honest.

        • DNG

          I believe she has called herself a false 9 which is a forward. A false 9 typically occupies the space that a central attacking midfielder would though so I’m not sure they would be able to play a CAM at the same time.

        • Reality

          I don’t have a problem either with someone else besides Lloyd playing attacking mid or for that matter, someone else beside her playing forward. Lloyd should not be starting every game nor playing 90″ in every game. We don’t need a repetition of the Wambach “problem”.

          • DNG

            At this point Lloyd should be a sub. If she’s not okay with that role she should be removed.

          • Reality

            If that ever happens, I hope someone captures her reaction on video.

          • guest

            Now that Morgan is out of the picture for a good part of 2017 she is probably salivating at the opportunity to start at forward.

          • DNG

            The team should use this opportunity to try out new forwards. Forwards even different from Williams,Horan and Press, and not placate Lloyd.

          • Guest

            Horan has never been used as a forward to my knowledge.

          • DNG

            She’s played underneath the striker a couple times but not as a 9 in the last year. That doesn’t mean I don’t think she should be tried as a 9.

    • Guest

      I don’t understand why she still seems to have power over Jill and why she is still a lock for 90 (even Morgan isn’t starting every game these days). It would be slightly more understandable if she repeated her WC final in the OG but our offense clearly didn’t work well in Rio… why keep with the same?

  • Bruce

    PSG-Lyon game is up…


    • Reality
    • Tom F

      the field looks fine, but I wonder why they played it in such a small stadium? You would think they would get a big crowd for this. At their first Shampions League(from last year) I believe 25K showed up in Lyon

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      • Steglitz49

        In Paris the choice is the small stadium or the Parc de Princes, which is far to big at almost 50,000.

  • Tom F

    here’s highlights between the game Spain’s two best teams nice to see them get pretty crowd at this one. Even though Barcelona is the most star studded, they take a back seat in this one. Barca recently added Vicky Losada to their strong attacking line which already feature’s Brazil’s Andressa Alves along with home grown talent Hemoso & Alex Putellas among others.

    • Reality

      How do you think FC Barcelona will do in the CL quarterfinals in March against Rosengard?

      • Tom F

        One problem is that the Spanish League is way too big for it’s own good with 16 teams teams in it, Plus some of Span’s best players like Vero aren’t in it, plus very few internationals have joined. So Barca might not be able to prepare for the much stronger teams like their going to face in the CL. Haven’t watch Rosengard play, but they only ended up in 2nd place in the Swedish League, loosing by an amazing 10 points to the less stacked Limpoking(Spell check).
        The CL battle should be once again between the two French & German giants(OL, PSG, BM & the Wolfsburg). That Wolfsburg signed Pernille Harder is amazing, She just might be the best player in Europe right now, It also depends if the Wolfies can get the often injured Carole Graham Hansen back in shape, then they’ll have the 2nd most talented in Europe as well on their squad.
        But give credit to Vero(PSG) right now, as she’s smms to be taking PSG to new heights right now(that was OL’s first league game loss in 3 years)

        • Steglitz49

          Most of Sweden’s best players play abroad. When they get older, they return home. The same goes for Brazil, Norway and Denmark and Canada. The Australians have the benefit of the non-overlapping seasons. Thus, Spain is not an exception but the rule in WoSo.

          I don’t know why Spain has 16 teams in their ladies league but they do.

          The Spanish ladies cup (called the Queen’s Cup) share with the Swedish cup the distinction of being the second oldest domestic cup for ladies club teams. Those were first contested in 1981. The oldest is the FA women’s Cup from 1971.

          • Lodovico Settembrini

            The first matches of the German women’s cup (DFB Pokal) were played in 1980

          • Steglitz49

            Thanks for the help. Thus, we have at least three women’s cups from the beginning of the 1980s.

            The dates I quoted are those of the finals, which is 1981 for the German cup too.

        • Reality

          Your point in reference to Spain about the relationship between diluted domestic leagues and international competition is a good one. Teams like FC Barcelona do not have a high level of competition in-country which disadvantages them against other countries with stronger leagues and more developed resources.

          I’d like to see competition here in the U.S. between our USWNT and teams from the NWSL. I think both parties would benefit from the experience and it might be a boon for attendance.

          I know that Boquete has been active in advocating for woman’s soccer in Spain and elsewhere. She has been a key player on every team she has ever been on with her skills, her great heart and her leadership. I know she will do well for PSG in the CL. FC Barcelona would have really benefited if she was with them instead.

          I agree that the CL final will come down to the usual cast of characters, but it would be refreshing to see FC Barcelona do well.

      • Steglitz49

        The Swedish league does not crank up again till after the QFs in the Champions League. Indeed, they will just have statred when the SFs roll around.

    • Steglitz49

      There are 3 teams in the Spanish League which consistently do well: Atletico, Barca and Bilbao (Athtletic club). Bilbao has the best attendances. In the past, Espanyol has also done well.

      In Euro-13 Spain played well but in WC-15 they were a sorry excuse for a soccer team. The only EU team not to get out of their group.

  • DNG
  • Arcie Tillydee

    Stadium expansion on the way here in Portland. We’ll be having that record back, thanks. =P

    Well, assuming the league makes it…the expansion won’t be done for a couple-three years or more.

    • DNG

      That’s great news for Portland regardless but of course I hope the NWSL lasts a long time.

      • Arcie Tillydee

        It’s mostly to benefit the Timbers, who have a waiting list for season tickets that’s over 10,000 (!!), but the Thorns have sold out a handful of matches, too. It would be nice to have every game a sellout, like the boys, but that’s a ways off.

        I’m pretty hopeful about the NWSL’s future. The elephant in the room, of course, is the early retirement of too many players in their professional prime, but I suspect that’s an inevitable downside of the low salary strategy that has been sadly necessary to actually get to the point of a fifth season on the horizon. I’m hoping there’s some “give” in that strategy going forward, since more teams are looking to be at least a little bit profitable. Necessary though it may be, those early retirements can be heartbreaking.