By Cameron Lee
October 4, 2019
The evening felt like an Olympic event. The largest crowd to watch a USWNT match in Charlotte, the night started off with Ali Krieger being honored before the match for her 100th cap, the 38th player in USWNT history to play 100 or more matches.
Fireworks and celebratory banners spanned the field at Bank of America Stadium as the majority of U.S. fans in attendance started the chants early and often. Korea Republic, currently the 20th ranked team in the world, strutted on the pitch escorted by young soccer tykes alongside the USWNT squad.
There’s no confusing which player demanded the most attention on this festive night, Megan Rapinoe, who missed the first three matches of the USWNT Victory Tour, played in her first match since her monumental performance at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The FIFA Women’s Best Player of 2019 contributed two assists off a free kick and sharp corner. The first was delivered to Allie Long who knocked in a low ball inside the post for her second goal of 2019 and eighth of her International career. The second came when Rapinoe snapped a cross into the six-yard box where Pugh struck a header into the back of the net.
The evening had a celabratory feel as USWNT head coach Jill Ellis earned her 106th career win, moving past the late great Tony DiCicco for the most victories in program history.
With a rowdy crowd of 30,071 in attendance in the first true test for David Tepper and the Panthers camp to host a soccer match in the same week as a football game; it was a strong presentation for a city clamoring for an MLS team.