US Women Come to Hartford

For the second time in 2010, the United States National Team will play host to European competition in East Hartford, Connecticut.  Last time, it was the Men hosting the Czechs, today it is the Women hosting Sweden.  It will be the second game of a two game series against the Swedes (the teams played to a 1-1 draw earlier in the week) and will be televised on FSC at 7:30.  After the team trained no Friday, we got a chance to speak with a couple of players about some business issues.

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.

We were actually surprised at the limited number of media in attendance, especially with local product Kristine Lilly such a headliner.  However, it may be that the local media is suffering soccer fatigue after the tune up match,  World Cup and Thierry Henry.  The field was in great shape (a thought echoed by the players), and advertising for the game was not yet up in the stadium.  It was horrendously hot on the field and the practice was fairly quick. Although the stadium typically hosts UCONN football, the only reference to the Huskies were some bowl banners at the top of the stadium.  After the practice, USSF p.r. staff was exceptionally helpful in arranging player interviews and providing logistics for the rest of the scheduled events.Thanks to Ali Krieger,  Sarah Huffman and the USSF.  The game against Sweden is tonight at 7:30 on FSC.  We will offer some post game business thoughts as well. 

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One Response

  1. Good game, poor attendance. Only 5400 in attendance. Very disappointing, especially after the attendance for the men’s game. Hopefully it doesn’t deter the federation from coming back to “The Rent”.

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