Overall, the U.S. outscored their opponents 26-3 and never trailed at any point. But let’s get to the player reactions.
“I don’t know if I’ve collected my thoughts just yet. I’m so emotionally exhausted,” said Alex Morgan, the co-captain who finished with six goals in this World Cup.
“The whole experience hasn’t really hit me yet,” Lavelle said. “It’s so surreal now.”
“It’s been a roller coaster. And I think any player that you ask has gone through their own individual ride where it was high, where they were low,” said defender Becky Sauerbrunn.
“You just kind of had to ride that roller coaster to make the team. And then to win this tournament is kind of a testament to all those paths and all those journeys.”
“I got really emotional because I didn’t know if I’d be here or not,” Kelley O’Hara said. “If you would have talked to me even two months ago, I wouldn’t have expected this — for myself especially.
Winning a World Cup is probably the hardest thing you can do in football. And maybe in life, I don’t know. And this is the hardest path we’ve had to take to win a major tournament.”
What is this “path” and “roller coaster” Sauerbrunn and O’Hara are talking about?
The U.S. was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics. That was a stunning, unexpected exit. So coach Jill Ellis completely rebuilt the team from top to bottom. Roster, tactics, everything.
“I knew after 2016 we had to deconstruct this and reconstruct it,” Ellis said. “That was the plan. We had to continue to evolve because the game was growing so fast.
“That was hard. But I think that was ultimately the right decision. To get to this point and see the validation in that and the trust in the players that came through that, it speaks for itself.
“The level overall around the world is growing exponentially every year. So yeah, this is incredibly difficult. The teams we had to come through were some of the best teams in the world. So in terms of the path and the level, this was pretty challenging.”
Near the end of the game, supporters in the U.S. part of the stadium (the tournament was played in France) were chanting “Equal pay! Equal pay!” a reference to the lawsuit 28 U.S. players filed against the country’s soccer federation in March alleging gender discrimination that affects their pay, training, travel, scheduling and medical treatment.
But I have to disagree. The women do not deserve to be paid equal to the men. After all, the women have won two consecutive World Cups. The men have never won zero. Sounds to me like the U.S. women should be paid more.
By the way, the U.S. men lost to Mexico, 1-0, in the Gold Cup final.