U.S. Women's Soccer Team Kicks Off Victory Tour In L.A.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now to a victory tour that kicked off today in Los Angeles. The U.S. women's soccer team is back from Canada, gold trophy in hand, after dominating Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday. NPR's Nathan Rott took in the scene at the LA rally.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Welcome, to the U.S. Women's National Team World Cup champions.
NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: Waving flags, red, white and blue face paint, Taylor Swift songs, USA chants and thousands of soccer jersey-wearing fans, some who had arrived as early as 7 in the morning to get a front row spot. And loud, loud cheers as each of the 23 women on the U.S. team were introduced to the gathered, including a hometown hero, Alex Morgan.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: Any Alex Morgan fans?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #1: She's a SoCal girl, and we want to bring her up here right now.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN #2: Go Alex. We love you Alex.
ROTT: Fifteen-year-old Alexia Maciel was one of the many screaming fans.
ALEXIA MACIEL: She's my favorite player and everything, and I just want to be like her when I grow up.
ROTT: You want to be just like Alex Morgan?
ROTT: Maciel plays soccer too. She's a forward.
ALEXIA: Same as Alex Morgan.
ROTT: Are you number 13 too?
ALEXIA: Yes. I'm lucky. I got number 13 this year. I was like, what the heck?
ROTT: Away from the crowd and farther from the screaming, a group of younger soccer players dressed in their West Coast football club uniforms are walking with their moms. Eight-year-old Maddie Heineki is their unofficial spokeswoman.
MADDIE HEINEKI: It's just cool to have your own country win. You just have all that spirit and it inspires you.
ROTT: Do you want to be a professional soccer player someday?
MADDIE: Yeah, I want to make it to the World Cup.
ROTT: Do you think you could score three goals in a game?
ROTT: You're not lacking for confidence.
MADDIE: I don't know.
ROTT: Kelley de la Fuente from Long Beach brought her daughter Giada de la Fuente to the rally to introduce her to some potential role models. She says that the assembled crowd and the fact that the final was the most-watched soccer game in U.S. history is inspiring.
KELLEY DE LA FUENTE: I think it's amazing. I think - go girls. Yeah. It's not women's soccer, it's soccer.
ROTT: It is soccer. And as the women's team is happy to remind everyone, they are World Cup champions.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) I believe that we - I believe that we just won. I believe that we just won.
ROTT: Nathan Rott, NPR News, Los Angeles.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Chanting) I believe that we - I believe that we just won. I believe that we just won. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.