Last night the United States Women’s National Team started off the 2015 World Cup with a 3-1 win over Australia. It was an exciting game against a scrappy Aussie side that showed that the US couldn’t take the group stage easily. All the fans in Marquette were excited for it.
All 60 of them, spread out across seven bars and restaurants.
The men’s World Cup draw last year was huge for the city’s bar and restaurant scene with multiple establishments having standing room only. However this year, multiple groups didn’t even know the game was on. The 906 Sports Bar N Grill had the game on for the first half but nobody was watching so they put on game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals. Stucko’s was empty all day and didn’t grow a crowd like they have for past World Cups. Buffalo Wild Wings which had a big showing for the women’s World Cup in 2011 had a respectable dinner rush but the crowd slightly favored the hockey game to the soccer game.
The Doghouse had the largest crowd for game 1, with about 20-25 people. The crowd started slow and then after the first two goals grew as more and more fans stopped watching college baseball and paid attention to soccer. Doghouse and a couple at Third Base were also the only place to have people dress up or wear American gear, which was common at Stucko’s, Doghouse and Buffalo Wild Wings last year.
The US-Australian game had a lot of interesting story lines, like the criminal problems around star goaltender Hope Solo, the potential “trap game” before the intriguing Swedish squad or the numerous situations surrounding FIFA’s organization like the expansion to 24 teams or that this is the first World Cup to be played completely on artificial turf.
So why didn’t the fans come out?
Some said that the men’s side in the group of death created more hype but the Lightning-Blackhawks had all the hype directed at hockey. Others said that Friday’s game should have more turnout due to which day of the week it is where places like the Wild Rover and Ore Dock would be open. A couple though said that casual soccer fans just wont watch the women’s game.
Those trends of gender gap are something soccer has dealt with for a while. PBS’s Vanessa Dennis broke down the technology trends of sports apps from Fox and ESPN that buried their women’s soccer updates under piles of menus and buttons. FIFA doesn’t have any app or postings for the women’s side. Recently resigned FIFA president Sepp Blatter made comments saying that women’s soccer would be more popular if the women wore tighter shorts, made sexist comments in FIFA congress and recommended an Australian representative for a leadership position because she was “good and good looking”.
Despite the overall trends that show a real problem with how women’s soccer is viewed, Marquette has shown more support than usual for the sport. Marquette has a women’s adult soccer league, a NCAA D2 women’s team which are unusual for a city this size. Marquette soccer fans also made an impact in their viewing parties last year — both socially and economically at the bars and restaurants. It just didn’t happen again on Monday night.
Megan Rapinoe drew first blood with a lucky bounce that spun into the net at the 12-minute mark but an aggressive Australian side was able to capitalize when Lisa De Vanna went weak side to tie it up. Christen Press scored the game winner at the 61st minute and Rapinoe added another to make it 3-1. Both Rapinoe and Lauren Holiday received yellow cards in the match.
The US will face Sweden on Friday, June 12, at 9 p.m. on FOX. Sweden tied with Nigeria 3-3 yesterday.