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USWNT returns home, continues celebrating World Cup win

After night of partying with friends and family in France, Americans return home ahead of NYC parade Wednesday

United States women's soccer team member Megan Rapinoe holds the Women's World Cup trophy after arriving at Newark Liberty International Airport, Monday, July 8, 2019, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

LYON, France — The United States women’s national team is back home after more than a month abroad.

After winning the 2019 Women’s World Cup by beating Netherland 2-0 Sunday, the players celebrated in Lyon with family and friends before packing up Monday and catching a charter flight to New Jersey. 

“I don’t know what’s next, I guess just more partying,” U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn said the morning after the victory. “Friends and family, there was a huge party, good DJ, lots of dancing, lots of cheering, lots of taking pictures with the trophy, so all around just a really great evening.

“This is when we get to decompress a little bit and just enjoy the moment.”

U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said she expects the next couple of days, which includes a Ticker Tape parade for the team Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. ET in New York City along Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall, to be a whirlwind.

After the parade, the team will be honored by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who will present the players with the Keys to the City on the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Women’s World Cup final.

Naeher said she’s looking forward to getting back to where she lives in Chicago after all the festivities and rejoining her National Women’s Soccer League team, the Red Stars.

“I haven’t won an NWSL championship yet and it’s on my list of things that I want to accomplish,” Naeher said. “After we get through these next few days, let’s get back to Chicago and finish out the season.”

World Cup breakout star Rose Lavelle didn’t do interviews the morning after the final, but a small group of fans shouted out to her as she wheeled her luggage to the bus wearing her gold medal and championship shirt. 

They asked what she’s most looking forward to about getting home, and she smiled and said, “I want to get some Starbucks.”

Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner Megan Rapinoe said she was “on cloud nine” Monday.

“I woke up just like, ‘This is crazy,'” Rapinoe said. “When you have all your family and friends, obviously the whole crew, all the staff, everyone there in one place, that’s a pretty ridiculous party every time.

“France has been amazing. Thank you France for everything, but we can’t wait to get home. We’ve been on the road for so long, we’re thrilled to be heading back to New York.”

Lawsuit awaits

After all the celebrations, a lawsuit about gender discrimination still awaits the USWNT and U.S. Soccer. When asked how winning the World Cup again for the second consecutive time and fourth time overall will impact those negotiations, Rapine smirked and said, “Well, it’s not good for them is it? Obviously, it’s huge. I think we’ve been a little shy to say that, putting so much pressure on ourselves. I think we had a case no matter what, but this just sort of blows it out of the water. It’s like, is it even about that anymore or is just about doing the right thing?”

“I think the federation is in a unique position to ride this wave of good fortune, get on board and hopefully make things better for the future,” she added. 

TV ratings soar

The 2019 World Cup final between the U.S. and Netherlands outperformed the 2018 men’s World Cup final in television viewership by 22% on Fox, the rights holder for both tournaments. 

The women’s final delivered 14.271 million viewers and peaked at nearly 20 million viewers across Fox and its streaming services, making it the most-watched English-language soccer broadcast since the 2015 women’s World Cup final, which was played in Canada. 

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