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Attendance Skyrockets In Women's Soccer After World Cup

LOS ANGELES (AP/ — The Portland Thorns played the rival Seattle Reign on Wednesday night before a National Women's Soccer League record crowd of 21,144.

It was the first sellout at Providence Park for the Thorns. Portland also held the previous NWSL attendance record of 19,123, set Aug. 3, 2014, for a match against the Houston Dash.

The Reign won 1-0 on Kim Little's goal in the 57th minute.

The Thorns lead the league in attendance by a wide margin, averaging 13,769 fans a game this season. Wednesday night's match will mark the fourth time the crowd has gone over 16,000 at the downtown stadium, which is also home to Major League Soccer's Portland Timbers.

The record for a professional women's soccer match in the United States was set in 2001, when 34,148 watched the Washington Freedom beat the Bay Area CyberRays 1-0 at RFK Stadium. Mia Hamm starred for the Freedom, and Brandi Chastain led the CyberRays.

The NWSL has benefited from the U.S. women's national team victory at this year's Women's World Cup. The Americans beat Japan 5-2 in the final for the team's third overall World Cup title.

Members of the U.S. team — and other national teams — are spread across the NWSL. The Thorns' roster includes forward Alex Morgan and midfielder Tobin Heath. Other World Cup players in Portland include Canada's Christine Sinclair and Germany's Nadine Angerer.

The attendance at Wednesday's game was historic in many ways, as the average attendance for these professional women's soccer games is just over 4,500.

The Portland Thorns do enjoy the 2nd biggest stadium in the NWSL, trailing only the Boston Breakers facility which seats over 30,000 fans. However, some stadiums only host a meager 3,000 fans.

With the expanding popularity of the NSWL, it looks like that teams may have to find a new place to play, or expand their current stadiums seating capacity.

The 21,114 people that attended Wednesday's game in Portland is higher than the home average attendance of two MLB teams: The Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. This is a major step forward for women's soccer, and with continued support the league will only continue to grow.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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