Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. Women’s National Team celebrated the country’s fourth World Cup on July 10 by parading down the Canyon of Heroes in New York City.
The team went into the tournament as the favorites, but faced amplified competition from European countries that have devoted more money and resources to the women’s game.
The U.S. scored a total of 18 goals and shutout out each of their three opponents in the group stage, including a controversial 13-0 win vs. Thailand. The United States then beat a much-improved Spain in the Round of 16 teams, 2-1.
France, the host-country, was seen by many experts to be America’s toughest opponent and the two giants played in the quarter-final instead of an anticipated final match. The Americans would prove to be too strong and pull out a 2-1 victory to have the right to play England in the semi finals.
England, under Manager Phil Neville, gave the United States perhaps its toughest test. Sporting one of the game’s best players, Lucy Bronze, England was able to control the midfield and slip through passes to Ellen White. But the United States were clinical in front of net all tournament long and first half goals from left winger Christen Press and forward Alex Morgan put them into the finals vs. Netherlands.
The United States outplayed the Netherlands for most of the game and after a scoreless first half, Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner, left winger Megan Rapinoe scored from the penalty spot in the 61st minute. Central midfielder Rose LaVelle was the breakout star of the tournament and she added a stupendous goal with her left foot in the 69th minute to give the United States the cushion it needed to secure its fourth star.
Throughout the tournament and led by Rapinoe, the team was outspoken in calling for the equal rights of women and minorities. Rapinoe became somewhat of a lightning rod politically back home in the United States, while the team backed up their words by winning every game without much of a hiccup.
“This is my charge to everyone,” said co-captain Rapinoe in front of City Hall in NYC at the end of the parade. “We have to be better. We have to love more, hate less. We have to listen more, talk less. We have to know that this is everybody’s responsibility. Every single person that agrees and does not agree, it’s our responsibility to make this world a better place. I think this team does an incredible job of taking that on our shoulders and understanding the position and platform that we have.”