The quarterfinals of the WWC are starting this weekend and the US will play Brazil on Sunday at 11:30. The match will air on ESPN, Galavasion and ESPN3.com. Ian Darke will do the play by play for US audiences. The tournament has not made a significant impression on the US sports psyche. Although the games have been televised and promoted, this US team has not captured the imagination of the American public. A US loss to Brazil would likely devastate televion ratings for the final rounds and deflate any lift WPS might generate from the tournament.
One of the stars of the US team has been Ali Krieger. We had a chance to meet with Krieger and other members of the US team when the Americans hosted Sweden last year. Here is some of that conversation.
We spoke with recently first time capped Sarah Huffman and defender Ali Krieger following practice. Both are “Nike athletes” with Huffman playing for the Washington Freedom of the WPS and Krieger playing for Frankfurt in the Women’s Bundesliga. Both player spoke glowingly about the travel accommodations provided by the USSF with Huffman indicating that the accommodations are “the best that it could be” and Krieger indicating that USSF travel is “more luxurious…they take good care of us”. Both described the differences between club/college travel and USSF travel with the most notable difference being the willingness of the USSF to travel to a location earlier than the day before a match. Because both athletes are sponsored by Nike, there is little transition when to the National Team because of the USSF’s Nike sponsorship. Other players may have to make a change, but are allowed to keep their cleats.
We also asked whether the players are cognizant of media coverage, marketing and attendance at their matches. Krieger indicate that Womens’ Soccer gets “way more advertising” in Germany…”billboards and things are always up around the cities, so I think there is more coverage there”. She continued, “I think it is a huge deal, because the more people that come out and get interested in the game they are going to tell their friends and family to come out and enjoy the game. There are different age groups that you have to target and I don’t know if we are targeting every one of them. We need more advertising and commercials to get different age groups out…right now we are targeting the younger age groups and their parents…In Germany you have older guys and their dogs coming to the game as well.” Krieger also stated that the ready availability of WPS matches on television is a distinct difference from Frankfurt and Germany, where the games are typically available online.
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