San Diego to break NWSL attendance record

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    Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

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      Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.

The San Diego Wave has sold in excess of 27,000 tickets for its Sept. 17 match against Angel City FC, enough to break the National Women’s Soccer League’s all-time attendance record for a standalone game.

The Wave and U.S. international forward Alex Morgan revealed the attendance numbers in an exclusive interview with ESPN. The numbers were also confirmed by the team.

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The attendance for the match, the opening game to be held at Snapdragon Stadium on the new Mission Valley campus of San Diego State University, will break the previous record for a standalone game of 25,218, set back in 2019 in a match at Providence Park between the Portland Thorns and the North Carolina Courage.

The goal now is to achieve a sellout, which would be over 32,000.

“I think it’s a testament to women’s soccer in the U.S. and the NWSL, and the San Diego Wave and what we’re building here,” Morgan told ESPN.

“To see this number today, right now, and just knowing that we’re gonna get a sellout, it’s just an incredible feeling because this club set its mind on breaking the single-match attendance in league history. They’ve done that now, but now the goals don’t stop for this club and I’m just really proud to be a part of that.”

The Wave has enjoyed an impressive expansion campaign, currently sitting second in the league table, level on points with the first-place Portland Thorns and the third-place Houston Dash. Morgan has played a significant role in the team’s success, leading the league with 12 goals.

“Honestly, it’s really hard to exceed my expectations, but this club and this team [have] done that, and I’m very happy to be part of it,” Morgan said.

“I also just feel really settled; settled in at home, personally, and I think that’s contributed to my success on the field. So I think overall, it’s just been a dream start for the club. But it’s now, can we sustain that and secure a spot in the playoffs and make sure that we continue on this upward trend?”

Chemistry can be an issue for expansion sides given that players who are unfamiliar with one another are grouped together for the first time. But Morgan lauded the work the team did during the NWSL Challenge Cup. Particular praise went to the efforts of president Jill Ellis, GM Molly Downtain and manager Casey Stoney, as well as those of the support staff in getting the team successful from the start.

“It’s a huge testament to the work that everyone does behind the scenes, making sure that players do feel fit, rested, recovered and ready for each game on the weekend, sometimes a three-game week,” Morgan said.

“So it’s really been a lot of moving pieces put together in such an accelerated timeline because we’re in our first season and a lot of these clubs are in their 10th. And so it’s really impressive how fast we’ve been able to put things together.”

That includes what will take place Sept. 17. Morgan said she’s visited Snapdragon Stadium and has been impressed with what she’s seen, calling it “beautiful.” But more importantly, after starting their inaugural season at the smaller Torero Stadium at the University of San Diego, the new venue will double as the team’s home.

“Not often in my lengthy career have I been able to open a brand new stadium, and know that’s home to the San Diego Wave, that’s home to a women’s soccer team where week in and week out, fans show up and have fan festivities around it,” Morgan said. “We’re doing a lot to bring fans out on that first game, and I think it’s gonna continue to bring fans back.”

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