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Rapinoe leads U.S. to 4th World Cup

The Associated Press

The United States’ Megan Rapinoe celebrates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Women’s World Cup final against the Netherlands at the Stade de Lyon in Decines, France, on Sunday.

The Associated PressLYON, France (AP) — Megan Rapinoe stood on the field, arms outstretched, striking her now trademark victory pose symbolizing the confidence of a U.S. team that celebrated and savored each triumph at the Women’s World Cup.

Rapinoe won the Golden Ball as top player and the Golden Boot as top scorer, and the United States backed up its sometimes brash dominance by winning while simultaneously making a strong statement for gender equity.

“We’ve done exactly what we set out to do, done exactly what we wanted to do, said what we feel,” Rapinoe said. “All of us, really. I know sometimes my voice is louder, but everybody is in this together. We’re such a proud and strong and defiant group of women.”

The U.S. won its record fourth Women’s World Cup title and second in a row, beating the Netherlands 2-0 Sunday night when Rapinoe converted a tiebreaking penalty kick in the second half and Rose Lavelle added a goal.

Rapinoe scored in the 61st minute after a video review determined Stefanie van der Gragt had fouled Alex Morgan with a kick to the shoulder while competing for a deflected pass in the penalty area.

Two days past her 34th birthday, Rapinoe slotted the ball past Sari van Veenendaal for her sixth goal of the tournament. She became the oldest player to score in a Women’s World Cup final.

“Getting to play at the highest level of the World Cup with the team we have is just ridiculous. But to be able to couple that with everything on the field and to back up all of those words with performances and to back up all of those performances with words, it’s just incredible,” Rapinoe said. “I feel like this team is in the midst of changing the world around us as we live, and it’s just an incredible feeling.”

Lavelle, at 24 the team’s up-and-coming star, added her third goal of the tournament on an 18-yard left-footed shot in the 69th after a solo run from the center circle.

“It’s been a long journey. It doesn’t seem real yet. I hasn’t hit me, it’s so surreal, to be part of this group and to play with these players,” Lavelle said.

The month-long journey isn’t over quite yet for players who captured the hearts of a nation. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio needed just a few seconds after the match to invite the team to a ticker-tape parade up the Canyon of Heroes in Manhattan on Wednesday.

Fans, many dressed in red, white and blue, chanted “Equal Pay!” at the final whistle, a reminder players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March claiming gender discrimination. The sides have agreed to mediate the lawsuit.

Rapinoe drew the ire of U.S. President Donald Trump during the tournament by saying she would refuse to visit the White House. Trump called out Rapinoe on Twitter, saying she should never “disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team.” He said he would invite the team win or lose.

But shortly after the title game Trump posted: “Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team on winning the World Cup! Great and exciting play. America is proud of you all!”

Rapinoe also called out FIFA on the eve of the championship, suggesting soccer’s governing body was not doing enough to grow the women’s game, pointing to unequal prize money and the scheduling of the final on the same day as the championships of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in Chicago and the Copa America final in Brazil.Speech

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