If you don't like women's soccer, you're a sexist, and not even a real soccer fan.

Yes, that's probably how I'd start this post if I were trolling for controversy. Nick Green's headline referencing his Daily News column was much more mature.

The question, as Bud Dickman would put it, is "How come the women's team can't not draw no fans no more?" Green lists several possible reasons, none of which seem to satisfy.

First, he's way, way off about the outstanding personalities - anyone who's exchanged ten words with Abby Wambach could vouch for that. Wambach's an intimidating presence...but so was Hamm, who could never be described as a sex symbol. Not with that competitive stare piercing your brain like diamond bullets.

The Hope Solo debacle probably contributed to why we're not seeing quite as much personality as we used to. Wambach and Solo excepted, the team seems to be a charming bunch, quick to smile and laugh...but speaking unedited to the press brought about swift and vicious retribution not merely from coach and teammates. You can't really say the USWNT is under a totalitarian dictatorship - I don't think Stalin ever produced a video as adorably goofball as Tobin Heath's walkabout.* It's entirely possible that the USSF sees lack of personality as a feature, not a bug.

Nick's commenters took aim at the USSF for publicizing these games about as well as Fox did with "Arrested Development," but I don't know how much more juice was in the pomegranate. The USWNT has scheduled post-tournament garbage letdown games - excuse me, Victory Tours - pretty much annually now, and if "Achieve Your Gold" is anything to go by, they're running out of steam in names as well as interest.

Part of the problem is also Los Angeles, a city of fickle pickles. Take Mia, Juile and Joy's farewell game:

Green implies that was good attendance. It was most certainly not. More than ten thousand empty seats to see the last game of the most famous women's soccer player ever? (Although it was on a Wednesday night, come to think of it. What kind of chuckleheads schedule the retirement of a legend on a Wednesday night?) That game should have been in Cary, or Washington...or Oregon.

The big difference between the 90's and today, apart from the deplorable lack of Crystal Pepsi, is Nike's unwillingess to push the USWNT as singlemindedly. The Olympics and Women's World Cup were in the United States in the same cycle, which helped a great deal. It wasn't simply that the ads were all over the place, it's that those ads showed the team with, Christ preserve us, personality. In 1999, Tisha Freaking Venturini had extended speaking roles in ads. In 2007, it was Rainn Wilson phoning it in while the team stood around and looked stupid (fair warning for the Brazil game, in retrospect).

Women's Professional Soccer might help...but the WUSA didn't do a hell of a lot to make anyone famous. (With the possible exceptions of Wambach, Boxx, Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra.) I don't think the tail is going to wag the dog again until the US hosts the Women's World Cup, at least (preferably in the same cycle as a US city gets the Summer Olympics again, although we might not be enough of a repressive dictatorship). That's looking like 2019 at the earliest, unless Canada hosts in 2015 and Nike gloms onto to that.

*Oh, right. Congratulations to Soccer By Ives, the best soccer blog in the United States. In Galarcep's honor, I present this heartfelt tribute video:

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