PARIS, France — Having a tour guide while visiting a foreign country can be helpful. Lindsey Horan didn’t have that luxury when she moved to France to play professional soccer at the age of 18, but now seven years later, she’s helping her fellow United States women’s national team players navigate the country during the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
“She’s definitely guiding us around,” U.S. midfielder Samantha Mewis said during a news conference Thursday in Paris. “She gives us little French tips when we have questions.”
The U.S. is between its first and second group stage matches. The players celebrated a 13-0 victory over Thailand in Reims Tuesday and then took a bus the next morning to Paris, where they’re preparing for a Sunday matchup with Chile.
Paris brings back a lot of memories for Horan, now 25.
A Colorado native who declined an offer to play college soccer for North Carolina, Horan signed a professional contract overseas in 2012 and headed to club Paris Saint-Germain. She spoke no French when she arrived and said she had to “grow up quickly” to learn how to live in another country with no family or friends by her side. She slowly acclimated and learned the language. Now, she looks back fondly on her time in France.
Horan returned to the United States in 2016 to play for the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League.
“I had a lot of tough times. It was a rocky road the whole time. It was a roller coaster ride,” Horan said of playing for PSG. “It was a difficult time in the beginning, and then it got better. Then, ya know, things like not starting, not playing at your best are so much more difficult when you’re away from home. So, I think I went through a lot, but it prepared me for where I am today.”
And that’s back in France. On the biggest stage, helping her U.S. teammates get the most out of a place she once called home.
“Just being back here is incredible, like hearing French again,” Horan said. “Uh, so many memories of Paris. I can’t wait. Just being in the city, being in that atmosphere. Being along the Champs-Élysées, like taking my parents to the most touristy spots.
“It was a very memorable time. Paris will be so amazing.”
Horan’s parents watched and celebrated in the stands when she scored a goal in the 32nd minute against Thailand, and they walked alongside her to dinner on the team’s first night in Paris — unknowingly leading the way for an adrift teammate.
“My parents and I actually followed her and her parents to dinner last night, like 10 feet away because I have no idea where to go,” Mewis said laughing. “So we were just like little ducklings following behind her. She’s been really helpful with that.”
One million tickets
FIFA deleted a tweet Tuesday announcing one million tickets sold for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The next day, the sport’s governing body told The Associated Press one million tickets had not been sold, rather allocated, meaning the number includes those sold, provided for free and delegated to teams in the tournament, medical and technical staffs and others.
FIFA also backpedaled on the number of World Cup games sold out. FIFA president Gianni Infantino originally said 20 of 52 matches were sold out. The organization corrected that to 14 sold out matches.
The United States’ opening match of the World Cup against Thailand was expected to draw a sellout crowd Tuesday night in Reims. FIFA listed all of the reigning champions’ group stage matches as sold out.
But the attendance that appeared on the big screen in the stadium and blared through the speakers during the second half was 18,591. The capacity of Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims is more than 21,000.
Despite the non-sellout, U.S. coach Jill Ellis and players praised the atmosphere after the match. The fans were loud and heavily favored USA.
“I literally said this in the warm-up when I was looking around, ya know, it’s massive,” Ellis said of the home-crowd feeling. The crowd was amazing tonight. Good turnout. … I think overall the American fans have traveled well here, from what I understand, in terms of numbers. I think it’s massive. Players want to play in front of their parents and families and friends, but to play in front of a crowd that can get behind you, that is a part of the game, and I think it’s really important. So I’m excited to see the way fans turn out.”