It turns out that a ticker tape parade in New York City, the ceremonial first pitch at Major League Baseball games, an ESPY awards-show appearance, and a Taylor Swift concert were just warm-ups. The Summer of Love is all about the heat for the World Cup-winning US women’s national team.
“It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been completely wild that we’ve been given a platform to really elevate our game, get it into mainstream audiences and minds. But to tell you the truth, it’s completely is over,” defender Meghan Klingenberg said this week in an interview in her hometown of Pittsburgh.
As a guaranteed prize of a contract for winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup, the U.S. women’s national soccer team is set to embark on a 10-game victory tour beginning Sunday at Heinz Field (LIVE, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Go 1:30 p.m. ET) ). The opponent is Costa Rica, and Las Ticas will also be in service on August 19 in Chattanooga, where the American women make their next stop.
However, after a tough year of training and international matches that led up to the month-long 7-game Women’s World Cup tournament in Canada, it’s safe to say that for the American women, these Victory Tour games have been about sharing the love. There will be more. It’s all about international competition with soccer fans all over America.
“When I was growing up, I literally had a female athlete role model to look up to. Now, I think there are 23 — at least 23 in the country. I think it’s so important because not only am I younger Girls looking at us but I see young boys, we see older men in the parade. Grandma, Grandpa. I’ve seen every race, every gender. It’s unbelievable how much support and how many people we’ve seen,” Klingenberg said. Lives have been touched.
In other words, this Victory Tour is about communicating with fans and fanning the flames for the growth of soccer across America, as well as a farewell to legends Lauren Holliday and Shannon Boxx, both from the national team. Ready to retire.
All-time leading international goal-scorers Abby Wambach, 35, and Christy Rampone, 40, have said they would like to remain with the national team at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. However, with the Olympic roster set to 18 players, it could also mark the end of the line for captain Wambach and the Rampones — especially with former University of North Carolina star Crystal Dunn now on her way to the Washington Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League. for dominates the action.
The real task of getting the US women’s national team back into international fighting shape will kick into high gear in December, when four additional games are scheduled ahead of the 2016 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championships, which run from February 10 to 21 in Dallas. . and Houston. That’s where the US will look to build on its Olympic qualifying and gold-medal streak for the Rio Olympics.
For now, the Victory Tour is a celebration of what American women accomplished in Canada.
Sydney Leroux will miss post-World Cup surgery and Alex Morgan has also been pulled from her Portland Thorns team in the National Women’s Soccer League after knee surgery. However, goalkeeper Hope Solo made her post-World Cup debut for the Seattle Reign of the NWSL on Wednesday after suffering a knee injury. Clearly, the 33-year-old Solo wants to hit the ground running at the start of this Victory Tour.
US coach Jill Ellis will have the remaining 20 members of the World Cup roster lined up, including the acclaimed US backline of Becky Sauerbrunn, Julie Johnson, Ali Krieger and Klingenberg. The so-called “department of defense” was a key factor in the American’s World Cup run, highlighted by Klingenberg’s header to make a goal line save in a scoreless draw against Sweden in group play.
It was the first game the US women would play together since July 5, when Lloyd’s historic hat trick gave the US a 5–2 victory over Japan and sealed the Americans’ first Women’s World Cup win since 1999. America tuned in to watch the action at BC Place in Vancouver, where the final was played in front of over 53,000 spectators.
No one would be surprised if there’s a slight hangover effect for the team, and the flocks of U.S. women’s national team fans who flock to the games. Additional games are scheduled against Australia in Detroit (17 September) and Birmingham, Alabama (20 September); and against Brazil in Seattle (October 21) and Orlando, Florida (October 25).
Festivities at this point in the tour are part of the action, just like the matches. On prominent display will be the 2015 Women’s World Cup trophy, which will be on display Friday at Marketplace Square and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh. The trophy will be displayed at the Waterhouse Pavilion in Chattanooga on Monday before traveling to Hamilton Place Mall. The trophy will also be displayed on the field on game day.
The game sold more than 41,000 tickets in Pittsburgh, prompting a decision to hold an open training session Saturday at Heinz Field for US Soccer fans to watch for free. The game at Finley Field sold out almost immediately.