London, England (August 8, 2012)-Even two days after the incredible come from behind win by the U.S. women in the semifinal match against Canada, the city is still buzzing about the game that propelled the U.S. Women’s National Team into the gold medal match.
A rematch against World Cup champions Japan would normally be enough for diehard soccer fans to get excited. But the drama that was produced by the U.S. squad as they defeated the Canadian’s 4-3, is luring in fair weather soccer fans that all of a sudden are doing all that they can to get a seat to what is becoming the hottest ticket in town.
So far over 83,000 tickets have been sold to the game at Wembley (I currently have my ticket safely hidden) and it will be a record crowd for a women’s soccer match in the UK. Only another 5,000 tickets need to be sold for Wembley to sell out, which at this point looks highly likely. And after the heart-stopping semifinal on Monday, now the feel here in London is that you have to be there tomorrow night.
It couldn’t be a better scenario not only for American soccer but also for the British ladies that saw record numbers attend their games this Olympics. No longer just a game “their blokes” play, football as it is properly called here is now becoming something appreciated by both genders.
As for the implication of tomorrow night’s game, both teams are looking to make a statement with a victory. The Japanese have a lot on the line trying to prove that last summer wasn’t a fluke win over the U.S. and that they are in fact the best team in the world. For the U.S redemption from last summer begins with a gold medal around their necks.
And for the thousands expected to watch them adorned in red and white striped jerseys, this is a chance for women’s soccer to garner the same type of attention that it received last summer after the World Cup. The future for women’s professional soccer in the U.S.A. is particularly murky and though Coach Pia Sundhage could probably do without the dramatics-Monday night certainly brought a ton of much needed eyeballs to the sport.
Last night I spoke with a couple of German guys at a local pub. They were looking to sell their men’s gold medal match beach volleyball tickets so they can hopefully scoop up tickets to see the ladies play. They watched the semifinal game on TV and want to see that Alex Morgan girl play in person. When they asked if I had ever heard of her- I just smiled, tipped my glass and said: “Welcome to the party”.