Thursday, September 21, 2017

The United States Women's National Team's Fourth Appearance in Cincinnati

If FC Cincinnati hasn't been enough of a statement that soccer has arrived in the Queen City, then perhaps Tuesday night was. Previously in 2004 and 2008, the US Women’s National Team played to modest crowds downtown at Paul Brown Stadium. Even before those matches, they played to a mere 1,100 at Galbreath Field in 1993, a venue that was hardly a soccer facility and eventually abandoned. On September 19, 2017, they played in a stadium that's already known its fair share of large scale soccer events in just under two years. However, that night’s crowd was rallied around an incredible team and the nation it represents rather than the local club for a night. In their fourth appearance in Cincinnati, the USWNT was cheered on by 30,000+ fans.

It was a great night, the kind where you walk away with a $30 scarf because you’re caught up in the moment and can’t resist the souvenir after watching a 5-0 win over New Zealand. It was interesting to see Nippert decked out in the “One Nation, One Team” branding, while the crowd sported a mix of FC Cincinnati shirts and Red, White, and Blue garb.

Like at the international friendly earlier this year, I took the night to snap some photos and just watch a match as opposed to holding a megaphone in the supporter’s section. I always enjoy photographing Nippert Stadium. It’s an historic and interesting venue with some unique features. However, with all these 25,000+ crowds this season, it shows the stadium’s disadvantages. From the portable toilets to the narrow corridors to the throngs of people hopping in standing sections because someone else was in their seats. US Soccer’s logistics were a source of continued criticism, but Nippert’s always an interesting environment with large crowds anyways. I think it’s time soccer was given a dedicated home in the region. Assuming it can be done fairly.

All in all, the night was another reminder of why Cincinnati is continually on the radar of the soccer community. It’s a city that’s come a long way from modified high school stadiums and small crowds showing up for a national team.

And I don’t think this is the last big Cincinnati soccer story we’ll all be witnessing.

Far from it.

- Cincinnati native Rose Lavelle got the start.

- Tifo painted by Cincinnati supporters group members in support of Rose Lavelle. Well done by all of the locals who took the time to put this together.

- Rose Lavelle receives a standing ovation at the half.

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