[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he Washington Spirit’s final home match against Sky Blue FC proved to be meaningful for two reasons: a win would clinch a spot in the National Women’s Soccer League playoffs for the Spirit and it was Spirit midfielder Lori Lindsey’s last game after announcing her retirement in an “Open Love Letter to Soccer” earlier in the week.
Sky Blue’s Monica Ocampo volleyed a shot past Spirit goalkeeper Chantel Jones in the 27th minute for the lone goal of the match as the Spirit fell, 1-0, to the visitors. The Spirit would still make the playoffs, however, after the Chicago Red Stars drew with the Western New York Flash to send them through after claiming the head-to-head series against Chicago.
Photojournalist Caroline Charruyer was there to capture it all. Visiting from Europe, Charruyer shared her observations on some of the differences she’s noticed between European leagues and the NWSL:
There were a couple of things different between Europe and NWSL. The main one being the audience. The NWSL audience is mainly made of children or teenagers who do not seem very interested in the game and are just waiting for the final whistle to get an autograph. In France and Germany, there are some families but the main core audience are adults who are there to support their regional team regardless of the number of national team players. The “golf clapping” at the SBFC [Sky Blue FC] game I saw in April was quite depressing. I feel like a team like Portland has the kind of support a team in Europe would. It makes the game more entertaining.
The next difference might be a bit more personal. When I watch a game, I get very passionate about it, which often leads to standing up, yelling, and sometimes swearing. I was quite astonished when the field announcer reminded everyone to behave. Although I can understand it because there are so many kids, I find it hard to implement. I don’t think I could have done the entire U.S. Women’s National Team versus Canadian Women’s National Team semifinal game at the 2012 Olympics without behaving a bit out of bounds, much like the rest of the stadium. The kids who were present were not phased by it at all. I guess this is mainly a problem within the women’s game. I’m sure crowds at NFL games behave a wee more rowdy.
In terms of play, the players are more physical. I found that they went 1v1 a lot less than in Europe. It kind of felt like they were afraid of touching the other players for fear of getting a yellow card (I cannot blame them for that considering the refereeing this season). For a photographer, that makes the game a tad boring to shoot at times. Between Olympique Lyonnais and Paris Saint-Germain, there might not be any goals but they fight to win, and the results in pictures is usually great because they challenge each other a lot, kind of like when the USWNT and the Swedish Women’s National Team meet.