For the OL Reign, it’s already been a successful season on the field and in the stands.
During its first year back in Seattle, the club clinched the No. 1 seed in the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs. A 3-0 stomping over the Orlando Pride at Lumen Field gave the franchise a Shield for the third time after a seven-year drought and a new standalone attendance record of 10,746 fans. It was the third time this season alone that the club saw an unparalleled number of spectators, fulfilling the promise that a larger stage would draw bigger crowds.
Now Jess Fishlock, Megan Rapinoe, and the rest of the squad will likely play in front of their largest home crowd yet when they take on the Kansas City Current at Lumen Field on Sunday in the NWSL semifinals. More than 18,000 tickets have been sold for the 4:30pm match, per Reign blog Ride of the Valkyries. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.
The Reign have been here before—just last year, actually. But the team has yet to win a title in its decade of existence.
The matchup between the Reign and Current is the nightcap of an NWSL doubleheader. The San Diego Wave FC and the Portland Thorns FC will battle for the other slot in the finals.
For the NWSL, it’s been a rocky year. A damning report of abuse across the league recently led to the resignation of the Thorns’ CEO.
At the same time, more people are watching the Reign and other clubs than ever before. The Wave, newly fronted by lefty forward Alex Morgan, shattered its attendance record with a sellout of 32,000 fans when they beat Angel City FC on September 17. The Current broke a club attendance mark back in August. And the quarterfinals matches last week took down two attendance records in a single day.
This surge in support for women’s soccer follows calls from Rapinoe and others on the U.S. Women’s National Team for equal pay, which led to a $24 million settlement with the U.S. Soccer Federation earlier this year. Fans, meanwhile, have been calling for equal treatment and more opportunities to support and watch women’s sports in places like sports bars.
Reign die-hards and bandwagoners alike can rally behind their squad at 5pm on Friday at Pike Place Market. But more importantly, they can show up on Sunday.