By Evan V. Symon
Fresh off the heels of winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team defeated Ireland 3-0 at the Rose Bowl Saturday night.
The game, the first of five ‘victory tour’ matches being held across the country, brought out nearly 40,000 fans. And players on the Women’s National Soccer Team from around Southern California couldn’t have been happier.
“It’s always great to be in LA and at the Rose Bowl here in Pasadena,” said forward Christen Press. “Everyone on the team is enjoying it. Even the players not from here.”
Press, who grew up in Palos Verdes, also played many of her youth games in the San Gabriel Valley. She personally saw the game as a homecoming. “I’m so happy to have a homecoming here in Los Angeles,” she told the Independent, “I didn’t think we’d be coming back so soon. It’s great. I got to see my family today. It’s not often you do that on road trips.”
Team co-captain Alex Morgan, from nearby Diamond Bar who also played several youth games in and around Pasadena, shared the same sentiment. “Playing in Los Angeles is always special,” said Morgan. “This is home. And to see this kind of support, I mean, I can’t believe it.”
Players not from the area were also happy to be playing in Pasadena.
“This is a stadium we all want to play in,” praised midfielder Rose Lavelle. “I’ve never been here before. It’s special. It’s where the [1999 Women’s team] won the World Cup. And having it be here in [Pasadena]? Everyone who lives here should take pride in that. The games played here are the ones we looked up to as kids. How many places can you say that about?”
“I’m blown away by how much support we have here,” Lavelle continued, “It’s been awesome.”
Co-captain Megan Rapinoe also chimed in, saying “The Rose Bowl is always great to play in. A lot of history here.”
“It means a lot to play here,” said Press, “This is where the ‘99 team won it. It’s an icon of Women’s Soccer.”
Fans and other players and coaches of the soccer world were also impressed by the game on Saturday. “I still remember being inspired by the 1999 team when I was 9 years old and wanting to go on to play for USA, and I’m sure that so many young girls are feeling the same after watching the 2019 World Cup.” said CalTech Women’s Soccer head coach Ellery Gould. “This US team has inspired a nation and each member of the team has empowered young women and girls to follow dreams, pursue new possibilities and take on leadership roles. Seeing the turnout at the Rose Bowl on Saturday was a testament to their incredible influence on the beautiful game. ”
Amidst the cheers and joy in being back, team members also noted how much support the women’s team was receiving nationwide, how many people are on their side over equal pay for players, and how hard team members played despite enormous pressure. Players also noted that, despite pressures, their victory is putting out a message of empowerment and bringing out fans in greater numbers than before.
“The victory meant a lot,” remarked Rapinoe. “I don’t know what more work we could do to get them to come. But look. They did.”
Even immediately after the game, players had nothing but praise for the fans of SoCal. After coming off the field to chants of ‘Equal Pay!’ Morgan said with a smile, “This is amazing. Where else can you find fans like this?”