Two years ago, no one would have said that. But after the success of the USL's FC Cincinnati with four 30,000-plus crowds this season, the U.S. women's national team
should play before its largest crowd since 2015 when it hosts New Zealand Tuesday night at Nippert Stadium.
A crowd of more than 30,000 is expected for the USA's second friendly against the All Whites. It won, 3-1, on Friday night in Colorado.
"This has become, you know, a city that's now known for its soccer, and good players are coming out of here," U.S. coach Jill Ellis said on Monday. "There's obviously a youth organization here, but I just think that the pride and the sense. I've seen some of these [USL] games on television. It's crazy. They're awesome. It's great atmosphere, and that's what you can want as a coach, to have great atmosphere, so hoping to see that tomorrow."
Largest USWNT home crowds (2012-17):
44,028 USA-Costa Rica (8-0) Aug. 2015 in Pittsburgh
35,817 USA-New Zealand (4-0) April 2015 in St. Louis
35,735 USA-Haiti (8-0) Sept. 2015 in Birmingham, Ala.
34,538 USA-Haiti (5-0) Sept. 2015 in Detroit
32,950 USA-China (0-1) Dec. 2015 in New Orleans
32,869 USA-Brazil (3-1) Oct. 2015 in Orlando
That support is a huge change from the first time the USA played in southwest Ohio. It drew only 1,100 for a friendly against Canada in 1993 in suburban Kings Mills.
Local hero. The USA returned to Cincinnati in 2004 to play New Zealand at Paul Brown Stadium. Among those in the crowd of 18,808 for the farewell tour of stars Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett was 9-year-old Rose Lavelle.
Lavelle, who said watching that game in 2004 was an inspiration for her, has broken into the national team with her first six caps, all starts, in 2017. The Cincinnati United Premier product attended Wisconsin and was taken by the Boston Breakers with the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft.
A hamstring injury set Lavelle back this summer and she is only now returning to the national team. She did not dress against New Zealand on Friday but might play on Tuesday.