Fans in Dallas have made the U.S. Women’s National Team feel welcome.
They’ve sold out FC Dallas Stadium for Saturday’s 3 p.m. match vs. New Zealand, the first domestic match for the team post-World Cup.
And on a sunny Friday afternoon, more than 3,000 fans attended an open practice inside the stadium.
“It’s humbling,” USWNT star Abby Wambach said. “The fact fans show up just for practice is amazing.”
The crowd was a mix of young girls and boys with parents in tow and even some teenage guys who weren’t afraid to yell out how hot the USWNT players are.
“They skipped school, didn’t they,” USWNT goalie Hope Solo said, laughing about the large numbers of kids in the crowd.
It was a feel-good afternoon for both players and fans.
Fans got an up close look at the squad as it made its final preparations for Saturday. The practice included fitness work and various position-specific drills.
Players got a taste of the support awaiting them for Saturday. Before they came onto the field for practice, they were informed about the sellout.
“It’s awesome,” USWNT forward Alex Morgan said. “It wasn’t like this [pre-World Cup]. The games weren’t quite sold out.”
U.S. Soccer officials say Saturday’s game will be the highest-attended USWNT game on U.S. soil since 1999.
All three players said the team’s World Cup run, which ended with a second place finish to Japan, is undeniably fueling interest in the squad from fans and media alike.
But they believe the spotlight following the team is deserved.
“We’ll take all the attention we can get,” Wambach said.
Even with all of the recent success, including qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, the players haven’t forgotten to remain loyal to the fans.
After practice all of the USWNT members spread out across the east side of FC Dallas Stadium to meet fans, take pictures and sign autographs.
It was a dream come true when Solo came over to fifth graders Ellie Williams and Payton Salz and signed both of their Solo jerseys.
“It was everything we wanted,” Salz said. “She’s just awesome.”
Williams and Payton said they’re both soccer players who aspire to be on the USWNT.
They’ll both be at Saturday’s game and can’t wait to see their heroes in action.
“I’ve always wanted to come see them play soccer,” Williams said. “Who wouldn’t?”