The U.S. Women’s National Team has successfully defended their world title, winning the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the fourth time in program history with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in Lyon, France.
The USWNT previously won the World Cup — which is held every four years — in 1991, 1999 and 2015, though Sunday’s final was a much more nervy affair than their 5-2 victory over Japan four years ago. Despite sustained pressure by the U.S., the Dutch defense and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal kept them off the scoreboard for the entire first half, marking the first time in this tournament that the U.S. failed to score in the first 15 minutes of the match.
But in the 60th minute, the U.S. was granted a penalty kick after replay review found that forward Alex Morgan was hit in the arm by the cleat of center back Stefanie van der Gragt. Captain Megan Rapinoe converted the shot to give the U.S. the lead, with Rose Lavelle following it up with a goal of her own eight minutes later. Rapinoe scored six goals in the tournament and, at the age of 34, became the oldest woman to score a goal in a World Cup final.
The USWNT’s road to victory faced few speed bumps, beginning with a dominating 13-0 victory over Thailand and followed up with shutouts over Chile, Sweden and Spain. In the quarterfinal, the U.S. faced host team and odds-on favorite France before a sold-out crowd in Paris, but an early goal by Rapinoe allowed the team to cruise to a 2-1 victory despite a late goal by Les Bleus.
Then, the U.S. defeated England 2-1 in the semifinal despite Rapinoe sitting the game out with a minor injury. Early mistakes by both teams led to a 1-1 score early in the game, but the U.S. pulled ahead with a 31st minute goal by Alex Morgan. England seemed to tie the game in the second half with a goal, but it was negated after replay found that the forward was offsides. U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher also became a hero to her teammates after she saved a potential game-tying penalty shot.
For the U.S., this victory comes as the women’s team has renewed its push for equal pay to what the men’s national team earns. The USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation in March, alleging inequality not just in pay but “at least equal playing, training, and travel conditions; equal promotion of their games; equal support and development for their games; and other terms and conditions of employment.” The two sides are set to meet for mediation in the coming weeks.
Rapinoe made headlines in June after video surface of her saying she would not go to “the f–ing White House” if the team won the World Cup. President Trump was swift to respond in a series of tweets.
“I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team,” the president wrote in part.
“I think that I’m particularly and uniquely and very deeply American,” Rapinoe told ESPN Wednesday. “If we want to talk about the ideals that we stand for, all the songs and the anthem and sort of what we were founded on, I think I’m extremely American.”
Trump did congratulate the team, tweeting Sunday afternoon, “Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!” Whether he will invite them to the White House — and if he does, if they accept — remains to be seen.