US Women’s Soccer Team Revels in World Cup Victory

By VOA News

Lisa Bryant contributed to this report from Paris.

The heavily favored United States team defeated Netherlands 2-0 in the women’s World Cup soccer final in Lyon, France, on Sunday to secure its fourth title and win back-to-back tournaments for the first time.

The Americans defeated four other European teams — Sweden, Spain, France and England — on their way to the final, and dominated Sunday in defeating the reigning European champion Dutch.

U.S. star Megan Rapinoe scored the opening goal for the U.S. side on a penalty kick in the 61st minute, and teammate Rose Lavelle added a goal in the 69th minute to seal the victory.

Rapinoe’s goal gave her a total of six for the tournament, tying her with U.S. co-captain Alex Morgan and England’s Ellen White.  A tie-breaker gave Rapinoe the Golden Boot award as the World Cup’s top scorer, and she also took home the Golden Ball award as the tournament’s top player.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has invited the World Cup champions for a ticker tape parade on Wednesday. 

From Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter, «Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!»

Earlier in the month-long tournament, however, Trump had traded taunts with Rapinoe, after she said that in protest of Trump’s presidency there was no way she would visit the White House even if he invited them for a post-tournament celebration.

When asked by reporters Sunday if he would be extending an invitation to the team, Trump said, «We will look at that, certainly.»

Football analysts say the United States women’s national team went into the match as favorites because of their greater depth and experience than the Dutch.

The U.S. also won the world title in 1991, 1999 and 2015, along with Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012. Germany is the only other country to win multiple women’s World Cups, in 2003 and 2007. 

United States' team celebrates with the trophy after winning the Women's World Cup final soccer match between US and The Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, outside Lyon, France, Sunday, July 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
The U.S. team celebrates with the trophy after winning the Women’s World Cup final soccer match between US and the Netherlands, at the Stade de Lyon, in Decines, outside Lyon, France, July 7, 2019.

Former U.S. soccer star Julie Foudy explained before the match what was at stake for the Americans.

«They’ve done all the hard stuff. Weathering the storm that was the Spanish game. Beating the hosts in Paris. Knocking out a very good English team. But they … must bring it home to secure their legacy, especially against a team that doesn’t have the same depth of talent and which is playing on less rest.»

Even as its success in the tournament earns it unprecedented acclaim at home, the U.S. women’s team is suing the country’s soccer federation for equal pay with members of country’s much less successful men’s national team. The pay disparity is pronounced, with female soccer players’ base salary roughly $30,000 less a year than their male counterparts. The players agreed to submit to arbitration following the end of the tournament.

The soccer federation awarded the men’s team a $5.4 million bonus after it lost in the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup, while handing the women’s team $1.7 million when it won in 2015.

American fans cheer watching the Women's soccer World Cup final in Paris, France, July 7, 2019. (L. Bryant/VOA)
American fans cheer watching the Women’s soccer World Cup final on an outdoor jumbotron in Paris, France, July 7, 2019. (L. Bryant/VOA)

The women’s team fans supported players’ demands. Jesse Kovacs, 23, who was celebrating the World Cup victory in Paris Sunday, told VOA, «They deserve way more than they get already, in comparison to the men’s team and everything else. Hopefully this provides even more reasoning to give them equal if not more — because they are more successful than the men’s team. And it’s not even close.» 

The U.S. men’s team, which did not qualify for the men’s World Cup in 2018, lost Sunday to Mexico 1-0 in the final match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.