By Paul Kennedy
Thursday will be a big test for how well, or not so well, the new National Women's Soccer League draws in the Pacific Northwest.
Both Portland and Seattle will be at home for games against Sky Blue FC and Washington, respectively.
The Thorns drew 16,479 for their lone home match -- more than double any other crowd this season. A crowd of 10,000 or more on Thursday would demonstrate the strength of the Portland market.
Reign FC attracted a small crowd of 2,618 for its home opener. A crowd below 2,000 would confirm the disappointing start to the first season of women's pro soccer in Seattle.
The lone midweek game to date -- Sky Blue FC-Chicago -- drew just 688 fans at Yurcak Field. The crowd dropped Sky Blue FC's season average to 1,586 fans a game, last in the NWSL.
Sky Blue FC, the only WPS holdover playing in the same venue, is averaging less than half what it did in its first two seasons in the NWSL when it drew 3,651 and 3,320 fans a game. By 2011, average attendance dipped to 2,138.
WAMBACH FEATURED ON SEC 'STORIED' SERIES. U.S. women's national team star Abby Wambach, who started her soccer career at the University of Florida, will be featured in a new ESPN Films’ SEC “Storied” series, Abby Head On, which will air Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
The film chronicles Wambach’s career from winning a national title at Florida to her rise as a U.S. women’s national team star only four goals away from breaking Mia Hamm’s all-time international scoring record.
The film is co-directed by Peabody and Emmy award-winners Erin Leyden and Gentry Kirby and narrated by Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Florida football player Jack Youngblood.
ARSENAL WILL TOP CHARTS. Arsenal, one of the first major clubs to sign with Nike when it entered the soccer market in a big way in the early 1990s, will switch to Puma, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
The five-year deal will be reportedly worth $46 a year, making it the most lucrative deal in the EPL, ahead of the deals Liverpool has with Warrior and Manchester United's long-term deal with Nike. It will bring in more than two and a half times the money per year that Arsenal's Nike deal did.
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