PPL Park was buzzing on Sunday night for the U.S. women’s national team’s 4-1 victory over China. The majestic setting along the Delaware River, nearly under the Commodore Barry Bridge, was enhanced by a rather vibrant (read: less screeching than usual) sellout crowd of 18,573 fans.
That sellout is significant for several reasons, including the potential for history which has been set-up for the fans in Sandy, Utah, who will converge upon Rio Tinto Stadium on June 30 when the U.S. plays Canada in its Olympic send-off match.
As of May 14, 9,600 tickets had been sold for that June 30 match. I’m waiting on an official update to that number, but Rio Tinto, the home of MLS’ Real Salt Lake, has a listed capacity of 20,000.
The U.S. women’s national team has never sold-out three-straight domestic matches. They have twice played before back-to-back sellout crowds, once in 1997 and once in 1999. So, a sellout in Utah on June 30 would be a historical first for the American women, whose rise in popularity following the 2011 World Cup has been very much tangible.
In fairness, the last two back-t0-back domestic sellouts for the U.S. women were subsequent games. But the second run of back-to-back sellouts was also part of the wildly successful 1999 World Cup:
1) May 2, 1997 in Milwaukee, Wis., 5,530 v. South Korea and May 4, 1997 in St. Charles, Ill., 4,147 v. South Korea
2) June 19, 1999 in East Rutherford, N.J., 79,972 v. Denmark and June 24, 1999 in Chicago, 65,080 v. Nigeria
The U.S. women sold-out FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas on Feb. 11 with 20,677 fans. They then played six-straight matches abroad before returning to a sellout crowd at PPL Park on Sunday. So what say you, Utah? The challenge has been issued. If 17,212 people can show up for a third round U.S. Open Cup match between Real Salt Lake and second division Minnesota Stars FC, surely the star-studded red, white and blue women headed to the Olympics can draw 20,000….right?
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