The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) won the World Cup on July 7, 2019, defeating The Netherlands in France 2-0. The Ticker Tape parade in NYC on July 10th kicked off the celebrations. Fans now have a chance to celebrate the team’s accomplishments across the country with the Victory Tour.
USWNT bowled over Ireland in a 3-0 win in their first international friendly of the tour, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl was the site of the 1999 World Cup win. A bronze statue commemorating the moment and Brandi Chastain’s iconic celebration situated at the edge of Lot H near the stadium’s entrance.
The match kicked off with fireworks, introducing the 2019 World Champions, then honoring all previous World Cup wins in ‘91, ‘99, ‘15, and ‘19 by having a player from each year presented.
Mallory Pugh felt a muscle strain during warm ups and was replaced by Tobin Heath in the starting XI. Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe were unavailable due to injuries.
1-Alyssa Naeher (18-Ashlyn Harris, 46); 5-Kelly O’Hara (14-Emily Sonnett, 46), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 19-Crystal Dunn; 8-Julie Ertz, 3-Samantha Mewis (20-Allie Long, 60), 9-Lindsey Horan; 23-Christen Press (16-Rose Lavelle, 62) 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (11-Ali Krieger, 56), 17-Tobin Heath (22-Jessica McDonald, 46)
Substitutes not used: 21-Adrianna Franch, 12-Tierna Davidson, 6-Morgan Brian, 2-Mallory Pugh
Heath scored in the 16th minute, finally making the shot that Crystal Dunn and Carli Lloyd had been aiming for with an assist from Christen Press.
In the 22nd minute Ireland got a close chance as IRE 9 pushes off a run on Abby Dahlkemper, but the shot was wide.
The ball came off the feet of a few players, but found Horan and she scored in the 30th minute.
Lloyd finally got her turn in the 42nd minute, shooting the third goal of the evening, with an assist from O’Hara.
All six subs were used.
To Ireland’s credit, besides being pit against World Champions, their struggles come from structural transitions. They currently have an interim coach. But, it seems it’s usually the case for them. Their keeper is good and they had a few good runs.
So, the takeaways from this first match are growing the sport in the USA and for women.
The 37,040 in attendance at a stadium with 91,000 doesn’t reflect USWNT’s success, but the support is coming along. Change and growth happen slowly. Now, the women’s games are more accessible to watch on ESPN for the rest of the 2019 season.
I had the opportunity of interviewing some players post-match and here’s what they had to say about the effects of winning the World Cup and growing the game.
Christen Press on FIFA’s expansion of the World Cup to 32 teams:
“Absolutely [the expansion] is good for the sport. [It’s] necessary. We need to keep growing. We need more federations to be giving opportunity and resources to women’s teams, so the level can continue to increase and the game can blossom as it deserves.”
Alyssa Naeher was asked about the momentum and notoriety that came with winning the World Cup and on the Victory Tour going forward, and keeping the message USWNT has shared:
“Staying true to who we are. We’ve always been a team that comes in and works hard. We play for each other, we have each other’s backs, we love to play the game. Hopefully you can see us having a good time on the field….the fans enjoy it and have fun and they want to keep coming back. Just growing that awareness and continuing to grow the game. It starts here and trickles down into the club level as well, and how [we can] get fans to come out to the NWSL games…[In the The Victory Tour, USWNT have games] once a month, but we’re playing every weekend in different markets around the country….[it’s] brought some awareness of different players through the world cup and realizing you can see everyone play [in their club].”
Besides buying merchandise and calling for equal pay, fans can continue to support women’s soccer and contribute by playing their kids in local leagues, and get out to support local teams and an NWSL team. Attend those games, too, if possible. Look up podcasts and other blogs that cover NWSL to stay in the loop.
If you’re not a fan coming out to the stadiums to watch USWNT play, their Victory Tour is also being broadcasted.
Here’s the Victory Tour schedule featuring all 23 players of the World Cup Championship team:
Aug. 29 v Portugal at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, 7PM ET
Sept. 3 v Portugal at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota, 7PM CT.
Oct. 3 v Korea Republic at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, 8PM ET.
Oct. 6 v Korea Republic at Soldier Field in Chicago, 1pm CT.
The Aug. 29 and Oct. 3 matches will be on FS1 and Univision Networks. The Oct. 6 match will be on ESPN. The Sept. 3 match will air on ESPN2.
The ending of this tour will also mark the end of Jill Ellis’s tenure as USWNT head coach. We’ll have to wait and see what adventures that will bring.