Photo Credits: Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images
The United States Women’s soccer team are once again the best in the world, dominating the Netherlands to win their record fourth World Cup with a final score of 2-0. Throughout the duration of the tournament, the U.S. women’s team endured criticism, and complaints claiming they are an arrogant team that needs to tone down their celebrations. The team put all of that aside and just kept winning. They went a perfect 7-0 in the tournament, and have not lost a World Cup game since 2011. The team will go down in the record books, not just for the conversations they sparked on the field but off the field as well.
Photo Credits: Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
On the field the team was magnificent, a well oiled machine that played the game nearly flawlessly. In the final game their amazing teamwork and precision was on display especially. In the first half, the U.S. offensive attack created more chances than the Netherlands. The American women kept on attacking but had nothing to show for it in the first half as the score was 0-0 at halftime. This was due to the exceptional play of the Netherlands’ defense and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal. The first half of the final game was the first time in the entire World Cup that the United States was held scoreless in the first half. The second half was set up to be an epic battle to see who would be crowned the world’s best. The Dutch team had improved throughout the tournament not allowing a goal in any of their knockout games. Both teams had also not allowed more than three goals the entire tournament. The breakthrough and game changing moment came for the United States in the 61st minute. Forward and heartthrob for men across America, Alex Morgan darted in front of the goal and was struck in the shoulder by the right foot of Dutch defender Stefanie van der Gragt. A penalty kick was awarded to the United States after a video review. U.S. Captain Megan Rapinoe coolly kicked the ball through the net to give the Americans a 1-0 lead. It was her third successful penalty kick, and her sixth overall goal of the World Cup. Rapinoe won the Golden Ball (MVP) and the Golden-Boot (Top Goal Scorer) awards and was by far the best player in the tournament. Eight minutes later, the U.S. added onto their lead when midfielder Rose Lavelle dribbled down the pitch, and with an amazing left foot strike from the top of the penalty box, kicked the ball to the bottom right corner of the net. Lavelle’s goal made it 2-0, and that would be all of the scoring the United States’ women would need.
The game was a perfect ending to a dominant tournament by the best soccer team in the world. The U.S. beat Thailand (13-0), Chile(3-0), and Sweden (2-0) in three statement wins in the opening round. They then triumphed through the heart of European soccer, powering through criticism and claims of excessive celebration with a trio of 2-1 victories over Spain, France, and England. The U.S. added a fourth star to their jersey, and now have a record four World Cups. The team got a hero’s welcome home at a ticker-tape parade in New York City. However, their impact off the field was the story during the tournament.
During the second half of the World Cup final, a chant broke amongst the American fans in the crowd. It was faint at first, but it grew until it became very prevalent. The fans were chanting “Equal Pay! Equal Pay! Equal Pay!” over and over again. Few teams in all of sports are expected to carry so much weight on their shoulders, and to represent all types of people as the United States Women’s Soccer team. They fight for equal pay, gay rights, and social injustices as well as being the faces and voices of corporations and customers. Perhaps no player stood for so much throughout the duration of the World Cup then United States Captain, Golden-Boot and Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe is a proudly gay athlete who uses the platform she has to fight for the rights of those she represents. Rapinoe was the target of criticism by President Donald Trump himself when he bashed her on Twitter for denying the possibility that her team would visit the White House if they win the Cup halfway through the tournament. On the podium after the win, Rapinoe talked to France’s President Emmanuel Macron for a long period of time, and accepted an invitation to meet with President of FIFA Gianni Infantino about investing more money into Women’s soccer and closing the wage gap.
The American women won because they felt like they needed to get their message across. In March, the team sued the United States Soccer Federation in a federal court accusing them of “engaging in workplace discrimination in pay, medical treatment, and working conditions based on gender.” Their strongest argument for equal pay was taking down everyone in their way and winning their fourth World Cup. They scored 26 goals, only allowing three absolutely dominating the world’s best. Minutes after the United States’ win, Nike released an inspiring advertisement portraying the Women’s soccer team as not only champions on the field but champions of equal rights. Rapinoe said before the game “It’s no secret that we are sort of the leaders in the women’s game in a lot of different issues: equality, pay quality, gender issues, and at large our team has been very open and willing to sort of get in any kind of equality fight.” As the final whistle blew, and Red, White, and Blue confetti shimmered down onto the field, the equal pay chants started. Once again, the victory, the team, the championship, the chants, and everything became a part of the message that the team is desperately trying to convey; that we are all equal and we should all be treated as such.