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As NWSL enters ambitious era, Courage try to establish foothold in North Carolina

Even though the Courage are one of the NWSL’s most successful teams on the pitch, they still struggle to consistently draw fans to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary

Photo Copyright Rob Kinnan for USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Courage franchise is one of the most successful in National Women’s Soccer League history. Since the team’s official arrival in the market in 2017 — fresh off a 2016 championship as the Western New York Flash — North Carolina has won the NWSL Shield three times, the NWSL Championship twice, and the Challenge Cup once. The Courage have made the playoffs in all but one season, and they’re a force to be reckoned with in 2023, sitting atop the table over halfway through the season.

Despite their on-field successes, the Courage’s existence in the Triangle region of North Carolina isn’t quite common knowledge. The team ranks 11th of 12 in the league in average attendance this year, a tangible sign of its challenges. Over the past year, Courage officials have made changes to the gameday experience to attract more fans to WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, just outside of Raleigh. Those remain a work in progress.

Looming over the individual changes is the overarching question faced by not only the Courage, but several NWSL teams in the league’s new, ambitious era: How will they keep up?

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