By Glenn Crooks
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A young boy, perhaps 10 years old, was seated beneath me during our WFAN broadcast of Friday’s ticker-tape parade in lower Manhattan celebrating the U.S. Women’s National Team.
I was struck by his method of support — he had donned a No. 9 jersey with the name “Morgan” between his shoulder blades. Here is a young male who supports and perhaps even idolizes a female player like Alex Morgan.
The USWNT won their record third World Cup championship last Sunday before more than 53,000 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, plus an American soccer-record 26 million television viewers across the country.
The legacy of the ‘15ers, as publicly labeled by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati at the City Hall ceremony, may be the inspiration they have provided to both the young women AND men who play the game in our country.
While girls between the ages of 8 and 20 were predominant in the hordes, it was the little boys wearing their Women’s national team jerseys that provided my favorite vision.
The representation on the male side of the game was significant at City Hall. The sporting directors of both the New York Red Bulls (Ali Curtis) and New York City FC (Claudio Reyna) sat on the dais along with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber.
Garber spoke to the thousands in front of City Hall and established a link between the success of the women’s side and its impact of American soccer globally.
“We continue to prove to the rest of the world that we are a soccer nation,” said one of only two commissioners in the 20-year history of MLS.
MLS was a key sponsor of the ticker-tape parade, which cost the city millions, while NYCFC and the Red Bulls had floats that preceded America’s 23 World Cup champions.
NYC provided spaces for its supporters, specifically from Light Rail (youth supporters), Blue Ladies and Cityzens.
RBNY took a different approach. Youth players from its elite development program were allocated spots on the float along with a Special Olympics goalkeeper, Anna Rose.
Although the attendance along the Canyon of Heroes may have been impacted by the normal “get away day” that Fridays present in the summer, thousands of supporters lined the streets of Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall. Golden Ball winner and jersey girl Carli Lloyd was in the lead float along with teammate Megan Rapinoe and head coach Jill Ellis. Also on board were New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Cherlaine McCray, an ardent supporter of the women’s game.
“On behalf of the 8.5 million residents of New York City, we congratulate you,” said the mayor. “What was clearly evident – the power of women, the strength of women.”
It was a strong and powerful pilot named Amelia Earhart followed by figure skating gold medalist Carol Heiss Jenkins and now the USWNT – the only women ever to be honored with the fortune to smile and wave up the Canyon of Heroes.
“It’s about time, isn’t it?” questioned de Blasio, who was not even born when Jenkins was feted in 1960.
It was a profound vision of those powerful women, again ranked No. 1 in the world, sharing the stage with the men who aspire to achieve those same lofty goals.
— Debate has begun on the disparity of the purse offered the women as compared to the men. The USWNT earned $2 million for winning the World Cup. In contrast, the 2014 men’s World Cup titlists, Germany, collected $35 million. The total purse for the women’s event was $15 million, while the men topped $530 million. Teams that advanced to the knockout stage of the men’s World Cup divided shares from an $8 million pot.
China was awarded $1 million for winning the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
— Jarrod Moses, head of United Entertainment Group, told the New York Post that Lloyd, the Player of the Match over the last four games of the World Cup, could total between $15 million and $18 million in endorsements over the next two years.
— With its logo on a loop along with USWNT photos on the jumbo screens at City Hall, NYCFC is expecting a sellout at Yankee Stadium for the long-awaited debut of England international Frank Lampard. Of course, supporters had figured that he’d have five or six goals by now and a few assists. However, after we all learned that NYC had not actually signed Lampard to a contract. Manchester City elected to secure his midfield prowess through the end of the English Premier League season.
While supporters squawked, and many season tickets were refunded, the attendance figures at Yankee Stadium rank among the best in MLS. NYC has averaged 28,000-plus, trailing only Seattle and its expansion mates, Orlando City. After Lampard scores his first goal, which may take a while now that the team has said Lampard will miss his expected debut on Sunday against Toronto FC due to a calf strain suffered in training, the skeptical supporters will have a sudden case of amnesia.
— Coupled with the Lampard unveiling was the formal announcement the Andrea Pirlo had signed with NYCFC as its third and final Designated Player. Pirlo, who will earn an estimated $8 million, was spotted on the streets of the city and at a Yankee home game nearly a month ago. He and Lampard sat together in a suite and were pictured side by side on the large screen at the Stadium during the Red Bulls’ 3-1 victory over NYCFC. Inadvertently, Pirlo’s bio was released on the team’s web page last week and then quickly deleted. This was not the best-kept secret.
— Pirlo could begin training on July 21 and make his competitive entrance on July 26 at home against Kaka and Orlando City. My projected NYCFC lineup with Pirlo and other recent signings is as follows: Josh Saunders in goal; from left to right in the back: Jose Angel Tasende (Angelino), Chris Wingert, Shay Facey and Andoni Iraola; Pirlo and Andrew Jacobson are the holding midfielders with Mix Diskerud, Lampard and Tommy McNamara attacking and David Villa the single striker.
That could be a very good side.
Follow Glenn on Twitter at @GlennCrooks