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AU student joins nation in celebrating Women’s World Cup victory

On July 5, the United States Women’s National Soccer Team completed a Women's World Cup run that saw them clinch a third Women’s World Cup title with a 5-2 win over Japan. The U.S. women dominated from start to finish, igniting passionate celebrations across the country.

Just one day before I began my two-day Eagle Summit session at AU, I arrived in Washington to watch the USWNT take on the Japanese in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final, a rematch of the World Cup Final that took place just four years ago. I arrived at Laughing Man Tavern, where several members of the American Outlaws, a DC fan group for the U.S. National Soccer Teams, planned to meet for the game.

Though the match would not kick off until 7 p.m., and the bar would not open until 5 p.m., the line to enter the tavern extended down the block by 4:30 p.m. I stood in line for nearly 50 minutes until I arrived at the door after chatting and joking with members of the American Outlaws and D.C. United’s supporters group, the Screaming Eagles. All were confident in a U.S. win. By the time I arrived at the door, however, I was told there was no more space in the tavern.

Dismayed, I walked a short distance to the Irish Channel Restaurant and Pub. Here I found a smaller, yet equally energized and confident contingent of U.S. fans, hyped up and ready to cheer on the U.S. women. As the game began, the crowd glued itself to the television screens all over the pub, and when the U.S. scored back-to-back goals less than six minutes into the match, the restaurant erupted in cheers and chants of “USA! USA! USA!”

U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd scored three goals in the first sixteen minutes to record the fastest hat-trick in Women’s World Cup history. She notched the first goal of the game at the three minute mark and continued her dominance throughout the game, serving as a key leader and a playmaker for the U.S. team. In between Lloyd’s second and third goals, U.S. midfielder Lauren Holiday found time to score as well, bringing the game to 4-0 in favor of the U.S. before the 20 minute mark.

Once the third and fourth goals were scored, the other fans and I started to relax and settle into our seats in anticipation of a U.S. victory. However, we still wanted more from our team. We wanted more goals, more deep runs, more tackles. And our USWNT delivered. After such a fast and furious flurry of scoring from our team, there were flashes of even gameplay and possession, but Japan couldn’t push back enough to overcome its huge goal deficit.

Japan’s Yuki Ogimi gave her team a fleeting chance to come back when she scored from point-blank range 27 minutes into the game on a play which saw the Japanese outmaneuver a disorganized and confused U.S. defense. After the half, U.S. defender Julie Johnston tipped the ball into her own net after a Japanese player headed the ball in the box off a corner kick. Johnston’s mistake resulted in Japan’s final goal of the night, however, and U.S. midfielder Tobin Heath solidified the U.S. victory when she notched the final goal of the game at the 54 minute mark.

Even after the Japanese goal and U.S. own goal, nobody in the pub seemed concerned about the chances of a U.S. victory. The USWNT proved to the crowd at the pub and those watching around the world that they indeed deserved to be champions. There would be no repeat for Japan, instead there would be a record third title for the U.S. The USWNT ended this year’s Women’s World Cup having won each of its seven games, scoring 14 goals and allowing just three goals total.

Carli Lloyd won the tournament’s Golden Ball award, an award presented to the athlete who distinguishes herself as the best player on the field during the tournament, according to the FIFA Technical Committee and members of the media. Lloyd also took home the Silver Boot, a distinction that represents her performance as the player who scored the second-highest amount of goals in the 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup.

U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo was awarded the Golden Glove for her saves during this year’s World Cup event.

But this World Cup victory was not all golden. During the game, some U.S. fans took to Twitter to post their comments about the match, and several tweets contained insensitive and racist comments including hashtags about Pearl Harbor and the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Even though American sports fans in general are very vocal and proud of their teams, these tweets and reactions prove that, as a country, the U.S. still has a long way to go in terms of respect for our global neighbors.

Sportsmanship, while a large part of any sport, plays a particularly key part in soccer because of the international nature of the sport and the role of fan groups in creating the atmosphere of a match. FIFA has recently taken a strong stance against racism, partly because of the amount of players who play professionally in nations other than their own and the continuing prevalence of racial discrimination against players of African descent.

However, FIFA’s actions haven’t solved the problem, and players still face unequal treatment from fans and other athletes. For example, Italian National Team fans continue to use racial slurs against superstar Mario Balotelli, who is of African descent, despite FIFA’s attempts to combat racism.

FIFA’s campaign generally consists of responding to incidents after they happen, and it sanctions or fines the teams and national federations who violate standards. Despite FIFA’s efforts, it has not been able to stop the incidents before they take place, and that is where the real problem lies.

The women of the 2015 World Cup USWNT played heroically and captured the hearts of Americans all over the country. As the sport continues to grow here in the United States, fans and athletes should be encouraged to remember the roots of the game and the passion displayed by each of the 23 individuals who together can now proudly call themselves World Champions.

So with that said, our U.S. Women deserved this win. In what was likely her final game as a U.S. international, superstar Abby Wambach finally captured her first World Cup title, and the rest of the team earned its first title in 16 years. From myself, and the rest of the United States of America: Congratulations USWNT.

sports@theeagleonline.com


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