From near and far, Albuquerque’s soccer community will be thoroughly invested in Sunday’s Women’s World Cup final in France.
Watch parties will abound around the city this morning as the United States, the top-ranked team in the world, meets the Netherlands in Lyon, France, at 9 a.m.
The largest of those parties can be found at Civic Plaza downtown, where the game will be shown on a big screen, with concession stands and food vendors part of the festivities, and some seating available as well, although fans should probably think about bringing their own seats.
This could rate as one of the most important days in the history of soccer in this country, what with the U.S. men also in a major tournament final today, the Gold Cup in Chicago (7 p.m.) opposite longtime nemesis Mexico.
But the men today — some members of the women’s team have blasted the decision to contest the Gold Cup final on the same day as the women’s World Cup final — take a back seat to the doings in Europe.
“In soccer,” said local soccer fan Billy Anthony, one of many fans in the city who’ll be at a watch party today, “the World Cup is king. When it comes down to it, I hope the men win, but this is the World Cup.”
In Lyon, Heather Dyche, the head coach of the University of New Mexico women’s soccer team, has a front-row seat for the final.
Dyche is working with FIFA and U.S. Soccer on game analytics and scouting. Currently, she said, she is the only American on FIFA’s educational staff.
Dyche made herself available late Saturday night (France time) for a short text interview with the Journal.
“It’s an enormous honor to be here and represent my state, university and country at the highest level,” Dyche said. “I’m very proud to represent the USWNT’s standard of excellent and equal rights. It’s a huge honor.”
Dyche has been on the U.S. soccer staff for a decade, and this is her second World Cup, having also worked the 2015 event in Canada. She also was at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the U.S. women crashed out in the quarterfinals.
Albuquerque Academy boys soccer coach Laney Kolek and La Cueva High athletic director LeeAnn Moores both spent time in France watching the U.S. women in action last month.