NWSL Hopes World Cup Drives More Interest To League, Teams
Players for the NWSL Utah Royals hope interest in the Women's World Cup "will lead to more interest in their squad and the NWSL in general," according to Ryan McDonald of the DESERET NEWS. All 23 members of the U.S. team play in the NWSL and are "expected to return to it after the conclusion of the World Cup." That includes three Royals players -- D Kelley O'Hara, F Christen Press and D Becky Sauerbrunn. All told, 58 NWSL players -- about 25% of the entire league -- "were named to World Cup rosters and will be trickling back" to the league over the coming weeks. Royals F Amy Rodriguez, who played in two World Cups for the U.S., said, "I hope that there is a trickle-down effect with the NWSL and I hope people come out and watch because it is an exciting game and we've got some excellent players in this league." McDonald notes the Royals are averaging a reported 6,561 distributed tickets "for its two most recent home games," continuing a downward trend at the box office following "strong attendance numbers" during its inaugural season in '18. Both Royals MF Mandy Laddish and coach Laura Harvey "feel that efforts could be better from a marketing and support standpoint as players transition back into the league from the World Cup." Laddish also called upon U.S. Soccer to "help more in that regard than it did" following the previous World Cup in '15 (DESERET NEWS, 6/28).
GETTING NWSL OVER THE HUMP: Former USWNT member Mia Hamm said everyone in the soccer community needs to continue to "figure out ways to connect with the community and say, ‘Listen, hand in hand we build this game together.’" Hamm said all the major groups involved with the NWSL -- team ownership, league personnel and players -- are committed to making it the "best league in the world.” Hamm: “More exposure will help in sports in general. Television drives everything, and the NWSL and soccer are no different. She added having the World Cup and Olympics in back-to-back years “helps that happen." She said, "You just continue to build on that momentum, and the players want to see this happen” (“SI Now,” SI.com, 6/24).