The United States beat the Netherlands in the 2019 Women’s World Cup on Sunday 2-0, following a month-long tournament that attracted more attention to the sport — and to social issues surrounding the women’s league — than ever before.
The 8th Women’s World Cup, which kicked off on June 7, culminated Sunday evening at Parc Olympique Lyonnais, in France, and resulted in a hard-fought fourth world championship for the US team.
From the outset of the tournament, the US team was favored to win. In their first match against Thailand, they won 13-0, scoring, as some have pointed out, more goals in one game than the men’s team has scored in every World Cup since 2006 combined.
So going into the final game today, Holland was the underdog, despite having won the UEFA European Women’s Championship two years ago. They staved off goal attempts until minute 61, when US team captain Megan Rapinoe sunk a penalty kick to the right of the box.
The purple-haired Rapinoe has drawn attention throughout the tournament for her outspoken political views, but also for her standout playing: this was her sixth goal of the Cup, tying her with teammate Alex Morgan for most goals in the tournament.
Eight minutes later, midfielder Rose Lavelle scored the second goal of the match — and ultimately, the Netherlands never caught up, failing to score a goal despite a number of attempts. When the final whistle blew, the US was crowned world champion for the second time in four years.
This was the Women’s Cup’s most popular tournament ever. The opening match, semi-finals and final match all sold out within 48 hours, and an estimated billion people tuned in for matches.
The US is a dominant team on the world stage, and The New York Times’ Rory Smith described an “American Invasion in Lyon,” where fans decked out in stars and stripes helped give the US players a sense of home-court advantage.
While President Trump has not tweeted congratulations to the team, plenty of other White House contenders have:
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) July 7, 2019
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 7, 2019
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) July 7, 2019
Congratulations, ladies! You make us so proud, on and off the field.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) July 7, 2019
— Seth Moulton (@sethmoulton) July 7, 2019
Congrats! Go USA! https://t.co/n3IDacjiZ9
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) July 7, 2019
YES YES YES YES!
To our 2019 World Cup Champion @USWNT: you have inspired the entire country — and New York City knows how to celebrate champions. We’ll see you Wednesday at 9:30 AM for the Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes. #OneNationOneTeam pic.twitter.com/bwCEoJYg3r
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) July 7, 2019
After the game ended, the New York Times described free-flowing tears as the US team “cemented their status as the gold standard in women’s soccer.”
“It’s surreal,” Rapinoe said at the game’s finish. “I don’t know how to feel. It’s ridiculous.”
More than just a soccer match
The World Cup drew extra attention this year not just for the excellence of the US team, but for the myriad social and political issues that their participation raised.
In late June, Megan Rapinoe, the team’s captain, snorted in response to a question about visiting the White House to celebrate if her team won the tournament.
“I’m not going to the fucking White House,” she told the reporter in a video published by Eight by Eight that soon went viral — and that attracted the ire of President Trump.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” he tweeted, before extending an invitation, win or lose, to the entire women’s team.
In response, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) invited Rapinoe and the rest of her team for a tour of the House of Representatives “anytime they’d like.” Rapinoe accepted the invitation.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) followed up, saying she’d bring a red velvet cake to the celebration, slyly mocking the fast food that President Trump served to the Clemson Tigers to celebrate their national college football championship in January. And Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) added an invitation of her own.
Rapinoe doubled down on her opposition to attending any kind of White House celebration following the release of the viral video, saying in a press conference: “I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way and fight for the same things we fight for.”