9,415.

On August 18th, 2019, Sky Blue FC hosted Reign FC in what will go down in history as the first of many home games at their new stadium, Red Bull Arena. A record-shattering crowd packed the stands on this summer afternoon, and their presence during pre-game made it feel like a win far before the first whistle was even blown.

A team that spent 90% of their previous home games at a field that didn’t have showers, held only around 5000 people, and lacked any connection to public transportation, was finally playing in a stadium that could offer the world-class soccer experience that they very much deserved.

The match was tight. A playoff-intensity vibe of 9000+ screaming fans carried throughout the entire duration of play. And in the 36th minute, all that raw emotion erupted when rookie Kenie Wright put a perfectly placed ball into the box for Elizabeth Eddy, who finished with a clever touch over the outstretched reach of opposing goalie, Casey Murphy.

This goal was much more than just a number on a scoreboard. It was the start of a new era, a sign that the future of this team was changing for the better. And despite Reign FC’s quick response — a goal punched in by Jodie Taylor just 2 minutes later — in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter. The game ended in a 1–1 draw, but the fact that this game was even played is a win for the future of the sport.

Sky Blue’s new stadium is a monumental step in the right direction — one that should have come much earlier. However, things are finally trending upwards for this club. And when the 2020 NWSL season resumes, they will finally have a place to call home.