Washington, D.C., has played host to many championship games in recent years, but this time was different. This would be the first time the city held a championship without a local team playing.
Despite the lack of a home team to root for, D.C. soccer fans were everywhere. Washington Spirit and D.C. United fans collectively planned bar crawls and pregame parties to welcome the Kansas City Current and Portland Thorns fans.
If you didn’t know any better, you would think the Spirit were in the final by the number of jerseys they had floating around bars and at the game. Fans from the respective visiting teams could be seen teaching local fans their chants and exchanging scarves.
Before the game began, the NWSL hosted a Fan Fest outside Audi Field. The pregame Fan Fest was filled with soccer skills challenges and carnival-like tents set up, with music blasting and lines started forming for everything available. With a balloon artist, face-painting, and the NWSL merchandise tents being the most popular. You could feel the excitement from the crowd, you could see the anticipation on everyone’s faces.
Billie Jean Enterprises x NWSL
The NWSL partnered with the Billie Jean King Enterprises for an event titled #ScoreMoreForTitleIX, a summit held at the National Spy Museum on Friday morning. The event was to honor iconic women in sports, promote the importance of inclusivity, and find new ways to nurture and help develop young girls and women across all sports.
There was a special focus on creating safe spaces for young girls to feel seen and heard as they mature and encounter physical and emotional changes and efforts to ensure athletes at the collegiate and professional levels have the access to the resources they deserve.
NWSL Championship Game
Fireworks were set off, and cheers and chants filled Audi Field as the starting lineups for the Kansas City Current and Portland Thorns were announced. Thorns fans could be heard and seen everywhere; their chants were short but loud and never stopped. The Current’s distinct teal couldn’t be missed in the crowd, and while they didn’t have as much to cheer for once the game was underway, nonetheless, they persisted.
The 2022 NWSL Championship proved if you make women’s sports accessible, if you give them the platform they deserve, fans will travel to support the teams and athletes they love.
After shutting out Kansas City and winning their third NWSL Championship, the Portland Thorns and their fans celebrated. Many fans stayed to watch the award ceremony under a cascade of confetti. It all felt bittersweet. The players undoubtedly deserved their win and accolades, but for the fans, it would be months before we’d get to see these players on the field again.
What’s Next for D.C. Soccer?
D.C. soccer fans showed up to cheer on two teams that aren’t even geographically close to the city. Why? Because it was worth showing up for.
What does this mean for the city? It’s simple. Invest in your fans. Invest in your players. Invest in women’s sports. The fans will notice and show up.
For many fans, as long as it’s soccer, they’ll show up and watch, but for others, they would do anything to see more women’s sports, more women’s soccer in this city.
If you give fans something to be proud of, even with losses, you’ll create a fan base that’s passionate and eager to show up and get loud.