The United States won its third Women's World Cup on July 5, dominating Japan 5-2 in the championship game, played in front of 53,341 fans in Vancouversetting off joyful reactions from the White House, to a viewing party in Lincoln Park, to the predominantly gay Lake View neighborhood on Chicago's North Side, where many red, white and blue-wearing fans packed DS Tequila Company for the late afternoon excitement.
The U.S. was out for revenge against Japan after a devastating loss in 2011, and they struck early and often. Carli Lloyd opened the scoring in the third minute and added another tally two minutes later. The U.S. sensation completed her hat trick in the 16th minutethe fastest three goals for a single player in any World Cup game. Lloyd was ultimately voted the Golden Ball as player of the tournament.
"The enthusiasm behind the women's road to the World Cup was stronger than I've ever seen before," said John Rutka, soccer commissioner for the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association ( CMSA ).
"The U.S. Women's Soccer Team [showed] their impeccable athleticism, teamwork and drive. [They] are more than champions; [they] are role-models for ALL athletes. Thank you for proving gender is not the defining characteristic of an inspiring performance," said Sami Grisafe, the former standout quarterback for the Chicago Force women's tackle football team.
President Obama, via Twitter, said, "What a win for Team USA! Great game @CarliLloyd! Your country is so proud of all of you. Come visit the White House with the World Cup soon."
This year's World Cup was certainly a proud event for the LGBT community. There were at least 17 out women15 players and two coaches. And the U.S. was certainly LGBT proud. The out U.S. contingent includes coach Jillian Ellis, Ali Krieger, Megan Rapinoe and Abby Wambachand Wambach hugged her wife, Sarah Huffman, minutes after the game ended, a scene shown on the ESPN telecast.
"The world's most publicly out soccer team was USA's pride and joy," Rutka said. "This World Cup powerhouse not only shows us a compelling journey to success, but continues to be a blooming beacon of light to soccer fans and all LGBT players worldwide. Soccer continues to be the leader in unity, inclusion, and respect and CMSA strongly aligns with these same values; we couldn't be more proud of these women."
Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com said, "We keep being told that by coming out an athlete risks 'distracting' her team. To see the U.S. women's national team win the World Cup with an out coach and several out players is such a powerful testament to the fortitude that coming out builds in an athlete."
Chicago-based sportswriter Christina Kahrl added, "I don't think there could be a better possible message about the ultimate irrelevance of sexuality when it comes to anyone's ability to compete and win at the highest levels of sports than this team delivering in this way with these awesome women."
John Dalton of Chicago spot DS Tequila Company reported a "great turnout" for the game, including one fan with an American flag shaved into her head. There were red, white and blue pomp oms on every table at the bar-restaurant. DS also had red, white and blue shots.
"The United States Women's National Team winning the World Cup is not only huge for our country and for women's sports, but also for all LGBT, especially athletes," said Eric Leushen, a former college football player who lives in Chicago. "Having the most publicly out team be crowned the best in the world sends a powerful message that you can be LGBT, honest about your sexuality and gender identity, and still compete and win at the highest level of sports. Coach Jillian Ellis and players such as Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe will forever be remembered as heroes within the LGBT Sports Movement."
CMSA president Michael Erwin added, "It was great to see the excitement and interest among CMSA members and Chicago in general around the Women's World Cup. Soccer is one of the most, if not the, most popular sport in the world and I encourage everyone to come out and play with CMSA. This year, U.S. Women's Soccer was a mix of very talented young and older players that came together to not only form a very solid team, but also showed a high level of class and sportsmanship that we all should strive to imitate in the sports we play."
The Chicago Red Stars will be honoring all eight of their World Cup participants, including their U.S. quartetJulie Johnston, Christen Press, Lori Chalupny and Shannon Boxxin the club's official "Welcome Back Game" against Boston Breakers on July 18. Single-game and season tickets for the 2015 Red Stars campaign may be purchased by calling 773-698-6001 or by visiting www.chicagoredstars.com .