What better way to kick off a World Cup Victory Tour than with a 8-0 win over Costa Rica in front of a record crowd of 44,028 on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
That’s what the U.S. WNT did on Sunday, led by a hattrick form Christen Press, a brace by Heather O’Reilly and individual strikes by defenders Meghan Klingenberg, Whitney Engen and Julie Johnston.
The attendance marked the largest ever stand alone crowd to see a U.S. WNT match, although an asterisk may be appropriate. Why? Well just how many of the 90,000 plus that saw the the U.S. defeat China in the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final do you think came to the Rose Bowl to see the third place match between Brazil and Norway? Brazil won 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Three players that had personally disappointing performances at the 2015 World Cup led the way Sunday, perhaps Costa Rica paid the price for some bottled up frustrations from Press, O’Reilly and Engen.
Prior to Canada 2015, Press was chosen by many to be the breakout star of the World Cup, but it never happened. After starting the first two games, and even scoring in the opener versus Australia, Press saw her playing time dwindle.
Press, like O’Reilly and Engen, was an unused substitute in the World Cup semi final and final matches.
For Press, yesterday’s hattrick will have done little to make of up for Canada. Similarly O’Reilly’s two goals and Engen’s one, while surely enjoyable, came in a facile victory over an overmatched opponent.
Perhaps the most enjoyable moment of the day came when local product Meghan Klingenberg scored a goal and tipped her hat to local custom by waving a Pittsburgh Steelers “Terrible Towel.”
In contrast to Press, O’Reilly and Engen, Klingenberg and yesterday’s other U.S. goalscorer Julie Johnston, came into the Victory Tour having played starring roles as the U.S. WNT claimed its first World Cup Championship since 1999.
The two defenders were acknowledged today for their performances when they were named to the World Cup All Star Team as selected by the FIFA Technical Study Group.
This is not a best 11, rather FIFA picked a 23 player roster made up of three goalkeepers, seven defenders and 13 midfielders and forwards.
It is a worthy group, but it is difficult to imagine exactly what the Technical Study Group was studying that allowed them to leave Becky Sauerbrunn, the best defender at the World Cup, off of this team.
Three other members of the World Champion U.S. WNT were selected to the World Cup All Star Team, goalkeeper Hope Solo, midfielder Megan Rapinoe and attacker Carli Lloyd.
The Victory Tour continues Wednesday evening August 19 in Chattanooga, Tennessee when the the World Champions face Costa Rica once again. Finlay Stadium is already sold out with more than 20,000 fans expected to be on hand to say thank you to the World Champs. The game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on ESPN2 and WatchESPN.
Following that coach Jill Ellis and company are set for a pair of matches against Australia, at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, and Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama on Sept. 17 and 20, respectively.
The Victory Tour moves on with a pair of games against Brazil in October before taking a break in November and finishing with four matches in December. Dates and venues for the final games of the World Cup Victory Tour have yet to be announced.
2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup All-Star Squad:
Goalkeepers: Nadine Angerer (GER), Karen Bardsley (ENG), Hope Solo (USA)
Defenders: Saori Ariyoshi (JPN), Lucy Bronze (ENG), Kadeisha Buchanan (CAN), Steph Houghton (ENG), Julie Johnston (USA), Meghan Klingenberg (USA), Wendie Renard (FRA)
Midfielders and forwards: Ramona Bachmann (SUI), Lisa De Vanna (AUS), Amandine Henry (FRA), Elise Kellond-Knight (AUS), Eugénie Le Sommer (FRA), Carli Lloyd (USA), Anja Mittag (GER), Aya Miyama (JPN), Megan Rapinoe (USA), Mizuho Sakaguchi (JPN), Celia Sasic (GER), Elodie Thomis (FRA), Rumi Utsugi (JPN).