The party that started with champagne in France carried on Tuesday night at sold-out St. Paul’s Allianz Field, where the U.S. women’s national soccer team celebrated its World Cup victory with a 3-0 friendly victory over Portugal in front of 19,600 new friends.
The third night in its five-city “Victory Tour” began with pyrotechnics and a scoreboard video montage that remembered not only July’s World Cup conquest but four of them, dating to 1991 in China.
With all four trophies in the house, it included the crowd’s second-half “Equal Pay” chant for a team seeking equality with the U.S. men’s national team. It ended as all Minnesota United victories do in the stadium: With the playing of and singing with former English band Oasis’ 1995 hit “Wonderwall” in front of the stadium’s steep, standing fan section named after it.
“ ‘Wonderwall,’ is that the tradition?” U.S. midfielder Julie Ertz asked afterward. “I loved it. I sang along. That’s cool. Everyone knew it, so it was great.”
The tour began with 37,000-plus fans a month ago at the Rose Bowl and nearly 50,000 fans in Philadelphia last Thursday. It ends next month with games in Charlotte, N.C., and Chicago.
The middle game of the tour brought departing U.S. coach Jill Ellis her 105th victory, a 105-7-18 record that ties her with the late Tony DiCicco for the most in the program’s history.
It also featured two first-half goals from forward Carli Lloyd, who did just what she did — score twice and win — the last time the U.S. national team came to Minnesota for a 5-1 friendly victory over Switzerland at U.S. Bank Stadium three years ago.
The first was a shot into an open goal in the 22nd minute after her original shot was saved but pinballed all over the six-yard penalty box before it came back to her. The second was a penalty kick in the 32nd minute.
The two goals give her 117 goals in international play during a career that started in 2005. That’s 13 behind Kristine Lilly, who played 23 years, scored 130 career goals and is third for the USWNT behind only Amy Wambach’s 184 and Mia Hamm’s 158.
“That’s news to me,” Lloyd said. “It’s great to chase Lil. What an icon she is.”
The U.S. team played on with six players — including injured stars Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Rose Lavelle — from its winning World Cup team. Defenders Kelley O’Hara and Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris weren’t available, either, because of injury or other commitments.
Still, seven players who started the World Cup final against the Netherland were in Ellis’ starting 11 in front of spirited fans, many of whom paid at least $85 face value (and some much more) for tickets.
They cheered their heroes and saved an especially warm welcome for second-half substitute Kristen Hamilton, who was called up because of all the injuries and absences to the team’s forwards and made her U.S. national team debut.
“That was fantastic,” Ellis said. “I was loving it. I thought, ‘Is she from Minnesota?’ ”
For the record, Hamilton is from Littleton, Colo., and plays for the Women’s National Soccer League’s North Carolina Courage.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” said Hamilton, 27. “To be honest, I was in my zone and in the background I could hear all the noise. I was very surprised, but it was very cool, very awesome.”