Return to the ‘Canyon of Heroes’: Triumphant US Women’s Soccer Team Honored With Parade for Second Straight World Cup Win
NEW YORK — Welcome back, ladies.
For the second time in four years, the Canyon of Heroes belonged to the U.S. women’s soccer team as Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and their victorious teammates rolled through Lower Manhattan to celebrate their latest world championship.
Air horns echoed along Broadway and the crowd chanted “USA! USA!” when the team members, in sunglasses and matching black championship T-shirts, rolled past aboard floats. Ticker-tape wafted down from the skyscrapers above as the players waved to the adoring audience.
“It means the world to me because they’re my idols,” said 10-year-old spectator Molly Malovich, who came out from Allentown, N.J., with her mom Tracey. The elementary school student, a center midfielder on her soccer team, was inspired to dream that she too can one day play on a World Cup-winning team.
World Cup hero Rapinoe, who scored six goals, was the last player introduced at a City Hall rally to honor the team once the parade wrapped up. Holding the championship trophy in her right hand, she danced down to join her teammates as DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” blared in the background. All 23 players, along with coach Jill Ellis, received keys to the city from Mayor de Blasio.
“We all appreciate all that it takes to shut down the biggest, best city in the world for the biggest, best team in the world,” Rapinoe told the crowd. “Thank you, it means a lot to us.”
Once the whole team was introduced, the crowd began chanting “USA! Equal pay!” — invoking the squad’s battle to collect the same paychecks as the American men’s team.
Crowds began arriving long before the 9:30 a.m. kickoff on a sticky summer morning, with supporters lined up behind steel barricades the length of the parade route north to City Hall. A heavy police presence was visible and streets in the area were closed to traffic.
Ellis Colandrea, 6, staked out a good spot along the route with her dad Trevor. The aspiring soccer star held aloft a simple, hand-written message to the champions: “You make my future brighter.”
Spectator Kelsey Parisi, 29, said the women’s victory was a literal lifesaver for her. The Pennsylvania woman was struggling with depression when she headed to France to watch the Americans in the World Cup — catching every game through the 2-0 victory in the finals over the Netherlands.
“I was in the hospital six months for a suicide attempt,” Parisi said. “I’ve always loved this team but being able to follow them through this process is amazing. It meant more than soccer.”
Many in the crowd were young women wearing team jerseys, and they offered their admiration for both the players’ activism and athleticism.
“It’s inspiring for women of all ages,” said Nora Anderson, 19, a college student from Iowa.
Her friend Betsy Wallace, 18, agreed: “After watching them dominate, I truly feel I can do anything.”
The ticker-tape celebration came four years to the day after the 2015 parade honoring their World Cup victory.
High school soccer player Bella Ramirez, 15, wasn’t going to miss the parade despite a torn ACL that left her on crutches. She stopped first at the hotel where the team was staying, and actually met some of her U.S. team heroes shortly after arriving around 6 a.m.
“I saw Mallory Pugh and I started crying,” she said. “Alex Morgan signed my shirt. I though they would be too busy, but they were super sweet and humble. We just talked about soccer and my injury.”
The team made headlines both on and off the field in storming to their second straight title and fourth overall. The U.S. women fought for gender equality in the workplace with a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation alleging they are paid less than the less-successful men’s team.
Rapinoe also engaged in a war of words with President Trump over her declaration that visiting the White House would not be part of her victory lap.
While some along the parade route raised signs declaring “Pinoe for President,” supporters of President Trump trolled the crowd by waving signs and flags backing the incumbent.
“America Hater Megan Rapinoe,” read one sign held up amid the “One Nation One Team” posters distributed to the fans.
Rapinoe joked about the controversy at City Hall: “There’s no place I’d rather be — even in the presidential race. I’m busy, I’m sorry!”
©2019 New York Daily News
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