Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 9/6/2015 (990 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Investors Group Field could have been the 51st U.S. state with the influx of American soccer fans it hosted Monday night.
The first two matches held in Winnipeg during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup pitted Nigeria against Sweden and the USA against Australia.
Nigeria and Sweden settled for a 3-3 draw, while USA beat Australia 3-1. Both games were sold-out.
The elite soccer matchups drew fans from far and wide, many of them from the U.S.
Maybe the largest single group of fans called themselves the American Outlaws and stormed up the stadium steps 200 strong. The Outlaws rallied in Winnipeg, but hail from 170 smaller chapters across the U.S., said St. Louis chapter president Ryan Smith.
Their mission is to support their national men's and women's soccer squads at all major events, which included the men's World Cup in Brazil last year, where they chartered two planes to fly in all their fans.
"I went to Brazil and it was fun. But obviously, being so close to Canada, a lot of people were willing to make this trip. And it'll be fun with our women's team being so dominant," Smith said.
But there was one important person missing from their sprawling Outlaw crew Monday.
"My wife was supposed to come with me, but her passport didn't come in time. So I left her," Smith joked. (She will fly to Winnipeg once her new passport comes in, hopefully this week, he added afterward.)
Many little ones were on hand to watch the Women's World Cup, including Alexander Herrera, 8, who could not believe his luck Monday: he got to miss school to see World Cup soccer.
"Awesome!" was the Winnipeg boy's reaction as he and his mom, Della, arrived at the stadium.
"I'm excited to see my favourite teams win, Nigeria and USA," he said.
Fans began arriving two hours early and a festival atmosphere prevailed outside the stadium.
Michael Schmidt, Robert Miller, John Miller and Dan Eriksson of Cleveland endured a five-hour wait at the Emerson border crossing.
"At this level of soccer, the players are so competitive and so skilled, it's just a great game. We really like the women's style of game because it has so much finesse," Schmidt said as Eriksson showed his Team Sweden shirt under his USA Soccer sweatshirt, combined with his U.S.-flag shorts.
David Weber and his soccer-playing daughters Isabela, 12 and Guiliana, 9, drove to Winnipeg from Omaha, Neb.
"We're all big soccer fans," Weber said. "We were talking on the way here and I told the girls that I hope they remember this for the rest of their lives. I know I will."
Isabela said she is inspired by the world-class players. "To get to that level, I think I'd have to work really hard," she said.
A local girls soccer team, FC Northwest, managed to nab tickets together. The 13- and 14-year-olds were decked out in Team Canada gear, but were cheering on Team Australia for the night.
"We got to meet them at the airport. They were really nice," said Kayla Crawford, who hobbled to her seat on crutches — she broke her foot playing soccer.
Team Nigeria had the most musically inclined fans. They brought their own live band to the stands and played continuously, regardless of the score.
"When it comes to soccer... the most important thing is entertainment," said Temi Fatunmbi, a Nigeria fan from Winnipeg. "This is the best thing to happen to Winnipeg in a long time."
Officials from the Canada Border Services Agency said "officers are seeing a significant increase in traffic at the border due to U.S. travellers attending FIFA Women's World Cup matches hosted in Winnipeg."
"Overall, there was an approximately 40 per cent increase at Emerson and its nearby border crossings last weekend. This past Saturday and Sunday, officers at Emerson processed about 10,650 travellers in 3,980 cars," a spokesman said Monday.
Winnipeg Airports Authority manager of communications Breanne Talbot said Richardson International Airport has been a bustling and exciting place for more than a week.
"It started when the players were arriving and now with the fans. It's been a flurry of activity," she said.
For international soccer fans such as Lachy France and Mary Darr from Australia and Germany, respectively, the controlled chaos was familiar. The long-distance friends make a point of attending as many World Cup matches together as they can.
They said from what they saw Monday, the World Cup fever here rivals that of European and Australian venues.