They were opponents on the field, but once they got off it, the players in the initial WPS game joined together to rejoice that the league is finally here.
Despite the newness, there were some familiar faces. Stars from women's national teams and the failed WUSA stocked the rosters. One face back in action is Abby Wambach, who broke her leg eight months ago in U.S. national team action. She spearheaded the Washington attack, and afterwards spoke about her fitness.
“I'm 100%,” she told reporters in a mixed zone. “Although, I missed a couple sitters, so I'll back it off to 95%.
“I knew I was going to have fun. I hadn't played soccer in a real game environment for eight and a half months, so I wouldn't have cared if there were three people in the stands.”
As it turned out, there were quite a bit more than three fans. An official tally of 14,832 squeezed into the Home Depot Center and formed a raucous, if high-pitched, crowd. The noise and the occasion even got to LA's experienced midfielder Shannon Boxx.
“I was a little nervous,” she admitted. “I've been playing on the national team, but I don't think I get as nervous as I got today. It's history in the making, and I'm a part of it. That's kind of nice.”
It was the same for Sol rookie Allison Falk, but she explained how she put away the jitters and helped contribute to her team's victory, even notching the league's first-ever goal.
“I was a little nervous, definitely,” she said. “Probably one of the bigger crowds I've played for, but you've just got to get out there and play. I think once the first couple minutes were under my belt, it was great. I was very focused on the game, and it was just another game that you get out there and play.”
It may be new, and it may be nerve-racking for the players, but it's not difficult to understand. Boxx broke it down: “It's just a fun great environment, it's not very expensive, and you see great women playing the sport. 14,000 people, and they all had a great time today.”
Zac Lee Rigg, Goal.com