Portland Thorns FC set an NWSL single-game attendance record Sunday, welcoming over 25,000 fans to a match that provided another example of surging interest in the league.
There has been a noticeable boost in fan interest in the NWSL since the conclusion of this summer’s World Cup, and the latest example came at Portland’s Providence Park. For their match on Sunday against the North Carolina Courage, the Thorns drew a sellout crowd of 25,218–setting a new single-game NWSL attendance record.
That total far surpasses the previous league record–23,403 fans, which was set by the Orlando Pride in April 2016–and made for a memorable match at Providence Park, as the crowd fostered an energetic atmosphere during the Thorns’ 2-1 win. More from The Oregonian/OregonLive:
Portland secured its first sellout Sunday since the reopening of an expanded Providence Park in June, setting an NWSL single-game attendance record with 25,218 tickets sold. Only one stand-alone women’s club soccer game in the United States has drawn more fans. A total of 34,148 fans attended a match between the Bay Area CyberRays and the Washington Freedom in 2001. The game was the inaugural match of the WUSA, the first iteration of a women’s top-flight pro soccer league in the U.S. Another WUSA game in 2001 drew 30,271 fans, but that match was part of a double-header with D.C. United in MLS.
“They helped us win this game,” said [Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna] Franch about the fan support Sunday. “We didn’t start the way we wanted to, but we found a way to win and that was because of the help of our fans.”
In recent weeks, there have been other signs of a post-World Cup uptick in fan support for the NWSL, from the Chicago Red Stars setting a franchise single-game attendance record last month to Sky Blue FC announcing last week that it is moving its August 18 match against Reign FC to Red Bull Arena to accommodate high ticket demand.
Still, it is fitting in many respects that the new NWSL single-game attendance record be set in Portland. The Thorns have consistently ranked at the top of the league in attendance over the past several years, and matches have continued to draw strong numbers since the recent completion of a Providence Park expansion project that added over 4,000 seats.
Portland also represents a good example of the growth of American soccer as a whole. Consistent sellouts for MLS’s Portland Timbers drove the need for Providence Park’s recent expansion, and that club has seen continued sellouts since the project was completed earlier this year.
There have been plenty of signs of optimism for the NWSL in recent weeks, and Sunday’s match in Portland provides the latest example of what could be a bright future for the league. It also represents another mark in favor of Portland, a burgeoning soccer market that is key to the sport’s growth going forward.
Image courtesy Portland Thorns.