On Monday the U.S. women’s soccer team returned to New York area, where the now two-time defending World Cup champions will be honored with a ticker tape parade on Wednesday.
What remains unclear is whether or not the team will visit the White House. President Donald Trump previously invited the players ‘win or lose,’ but since Sunday’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands he has neglected to extend a formal invitation.
In fact, Trump appears to be walking back his initial invite.
When asked about a potential meeting on Sunday, Trump replied: ‘We haven’t really thought about it. We’ll look at that.’
Previously team members Megan Rapinoe and Ali Krieger both refused to visit the White House outright, while Forward Alex Morgan said it would be a team decision.
Prior to takeoff on Monday, Morgan was recorded caressing the World Cup trophy – the team’s fourth overall.
‘@alexmorgan13 is making sure the most recent member of the fam makes it home safe too,’ read a tweet from the U.S. women’s team Twitter account.
On Sunday, following America’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the World Cup final, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the parade on Twitter.
‘To our 2019 World Cup Champion @USWNT: you have inspired the entire country – and New York City knows how to celebrate champions.
‘We’ll see you Wednesday at 9:30 AM for the Ticker Tape Parade down the Canyon of Heroes. #OneNationOneTeam.’
The team also was honored with a parade in lower Manhattan in 2015 – the most recent sports team to be celebrated in New York.
New York has a long tradition of honoring athletes, war heroes, astronauts, and even Nelson Mandela along the stretch of Broadway known as the ‘Canyon of Heroes.’
The exact parade route has yet to be announced.
Earlier on Monday, captain Megan Rapinoe was seen smiling as she left the hotel in Lyon less than 24 hours after she scored the opening goal in the final and was named the player of the tournament.
Wearing pink sunglasses, Rapinoe and her teammates including Rose Lavelle and Alyssa Naeher wore T-shirts saying ‘World Champions 2019’ as they prepared to return home.
The T-shirts were decorated with four stars, marking the American team’s fourth World Cup triumph after 1991, 1999 and 2015.
Rapinoe, who was also seen boarding the team bus outside the hotel, has made both friends and enemies after vowing not to visit the White House if the team was invited by President Trump.
She also declined to sing the national anthem when the team lined up for the final against the Netherlands yesterday.
However, her achievements on the pitch were beyond dispute. At 34, Rapinoe was quite possibly playing in her last World Cup. And she not only captained her side to victory but won both the Golden Ball award for best player and the Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer.
She also broke the deadlock against the Dutch in yesterday’s final, scoring calmly from the penalty spot after a VAR decision had given the U.S. team a penalty kick.
Trump had earlier reacted angrily to Rapinoe’s criticism, saying she ‘should never disrespect our country’ and demanding that ‘she should win first before she talks’.
Yesterday Trump took a more measured tone, congratulating the team for winning the World Cup and saying: ‘America is proud of you all’.
His predecessor Barack Obama also praised the U.S. team’s efforts, calling them ‘an incredible team that’s always pushing themselves’.
Previously the U.S. women’s national team visited Obama’s White House after winning the 2015 World Cup.
Also pictured outside the hotel was 24-year-old Rose Lavelle, who scored America’s second goal in yesterday’s final and was one of the up-and-coming stars of the tournament.
Whether any of the team will visit the White House remains to be seen, but New York City mayor Bill de Blasio has invited them to a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan.
The Americans never trailed at the tournament and set records with 26 goals and a 12-game World Cup winning streak dating to 2015.
Jill Ellis became the first coach to lead a team to two Women’s World Cup titles, and the U.S. also joined Germany in 2003 and 2007 as the only repeat champions.
After yesterday’s game the players were seen jumping around the dressing room and spraying each other with bottles of champagne.
Videos taken by players and support staff show captain Megan Rapinoe being greeted with cheers and applause by her teammates.
Later, the medal-clad team emerged from the stadium to an ecstatic crowd singing Queen’s hit ‘We Are The Champions,’ each carrying a bottle of champagne and roaring sparkler.
As Rapinoe climbed on top of a table to spray fans and teammates with champagne, Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris could be heard yelling ‘You know we came to mother-f***ing party.’
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.
The Americans opened the tournament with a record 13-0 rout of lowly Thailand, triggering debate over whether the celebrations after each goal were excessive.
U.S. forward Alex Morgan responded in the next match by following a goal with a polite golf clap. Then she stirred it up again when she scored against England, celebrating with a tea sip.
There was also controversy before the match, as Lionesses coach Phil Neville discovered U.S. women’s team staffers scoping his team’s hotel.
A pair of US staffers visited the Fourvière Hotel, which is close to the old town, while England was out at a practice.
The England-born US coach Jill Ellis insisted it was a sign of good preparation rather than arrogance, because the Americans were considering using that hotel if they advanced to the final.
But Neville claimed it was bad etiquette to scout the hotel before winning the semi-final.