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NWSL breaks opening-week attendance record

Over 90,000 fans attended the six National Women’s Soccer League games last weekend and helped the league break its opening-week record.

San Diego Wave FC vs Chicago Red Stars
San Diego Wave FCCortesía San Diego Wave FC

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) season kicked off last weekend with the Portland Thorns looking to defend their title and the top-flight American division eager to avail on the momentum ahead of the forthcoming Women’s World Cup.

Portland Thorns FC celebrate
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Portland Thorns FC celebrate Soobum ImGetty

Commissioner Jessica Berman expects 25%-30% of the league’s players to travel to the Women’s World Cup which starts on 20 July through to 20 August in in Australia and New Zealand.

“There will be promotion and messaging around making sure that both domestically and internationally for the players - who we know have very strong followings, who are going to be competing on an international stage at the Women’s World Cup,” Berman told reporters.

The timing is ideal for the league, which is looking to move forward after damning revelations of widespread abuse and misconduct that cast a shadow over its 10th anniversary season last year.

 Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Thorns FC
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Portland, Oregon, USA; Portland Thorns FC Troy WayrynenUSA TODAY Sports

It marked a dark chapter for a league that’s has been on an otherwise positive curve, attracting thousands of new fans since the USWNT secured their fourth World Cup title in 2019.

Opening weekend bonanza

Over 90,000 fans attended a National Women’s Soccer League game during the opening weekend, and helped the league shatter its opening-week record with an average of just over 15,000 spectators for the six games beating he previous yardstick of 10,150 set last season.

The two new Southern California teams (San Diego Wave and Angel City FC) have been instrumental in boosting a new stronger 12 team league with 30,854 fans in San Diego for the 3-2 win over Chicago Red Stars at the Snapdragon Stadium.

Angel City’s home defeat to Gotham FC was watched by a capacity crowd at BMO field as 22,000 packed into the stands in Los Angeles.

NWSL: 2023 season, matchday 1 attendances

  • Washington Spirit-OL Reign: attendance: 11,281
  • Angel City FC-Gotham FC: 22,000
  • Portland Thorns-Orlando Pride: 15,204
  • San Diego Wave-Chicago Red Stars: 30,850
  • North Carolina Courage-Kansas City: 4,948
  • Houston Dash-Racing Louisville: 5,722