The hottest ticket in Colorado this week was the friendly match between the United States women's national soccer team and Australia Wednesday night. The game itself was sold out, and the crowd was very enthusiastic and loud in their support of the American women's team in the middle of their post-Olympic gold medal tour. Thankfully the Americans rewarded their fans with a 6-2 victory. They also thanked their coach, Pia Sundhage, with yet another victory on this final night before she left the team.
Flurry of American Goals
Everyone expected a lot of scoring in this game to send off departing head coach Pia Sundhage in style. In the first half, there were a number of quality scoring chances that just barely missed. At one point late in the first half, the Americans actually were losing 2-1 before Alex Morgan converted a goal in the 43rd minute. Any worry that the United States might falter in this game was put to rest in the second half as four different players scored to put the game far out of reach. In the end, the featured players on offense were Alex Morgan (two goals, two assists), Abby Wambach (one goal), and Megan Rapinoe (who came into the game in the second half and got two quick assists).
Raucous Sellout Crowd Present
This was my first soccer game at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City. The stadium is a soccer-specific venue and was the perfect place to have the team visit on this post-Olympic gold medal tour. A sold-out crowd of 18,589 was incredibly loud and enthusiastic the entire game. They showered their verbal praise upon Morgan, Wambach, and Hope Solo during introductions and really never stopped until long after the game was over.
What was most surprising to me was the number of children that were present. I spoke with one parent who commented on how excited her children were to see their Olympic heroes that night. The stadium was filled with multiple youth soccer teams wearing their own uniforms. It was also gratifying to see so many younger boys there as well cheering on their favorites. It was definitely a fun, family-friendly atmosphere.
Emotional Goodbye To Coach Sundhage
Anyone who was present Wednesday night knew that this was Sundhage's last game. She was interviewed before and after the game about how she felt about this amazing team that she had coached for the past five years. During the game, when the first goal was scored, the American players raced over to the sidelines to celebrate by playing air guitar in front of a laughing Sundhage. Her players showed their love again after the game by serenading Sundhage with a sweet version of "You Are My Sunshine" while the coach ran a victory lap around the field to thank the fans up close.
This women's soccer game was one of the best in-person sporting experiences that I've ever had. It was a special night for this women's national soccer team, but it was even more special for the fans to be able to give back to a group of players and a coach that they clearly loved so much. For people who may think that soccer isn't that relevant as a sport in America, last night's public display of adoration and fanaticism would clearly refute that.
Julie is a featured sports contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She's followed the women's national soccer team for a decade and was very happy to get to see them in person for the first time Wednesday night in Colorado.
- Sports & Recreation
- Pia Sundhage
- Alex Morgan