Soccer fans swarm Petco Park early Sunday to cheer Team USA in the Women’s World Cup
Thousands root for U.S. women’s team as they win another World Cup
Thousands of soccer fans crowded into Petco Park early Sunday morning for a viewing party where they watched the U.S. women’s national team beat the Netherlands and win the Women’s World Cup championship 2-0.
Sunday’s win is the second consecutive World Cup for the U.S. women’s team and its fourth overall.
Gates at the park opened at 7:30 a.m. and lines still stretched at least a block by the 8 a.m. kickoff of the game, which was being played in Lyon, France. By halftime, there was little to no space left to sit at the Park at the Park. Many fans stood at the foot of the Sycuan Stage where the game was shown on the big screen.
Many spectators were decked-out in red, white and blue patriotic garb while others wore Team USA jerseys. Park concession stands were open and beer sales commenced early. At around 9 a.m. — halftime — one beer vendor’s line stretched from near the southeast corner of the park down the side of the Bumble Bee Seafoods building.
The crowd, spared from the morning sun by a lingering marine layer, was on edge throughout the first half as the U.S. team attacked repeatedly but failed to score.
Members of the American Outlaws supporters club led chants and cheers throughout the match via a drum and a megaphone.
Chris Garcia, a member of the San Diego chapter of the American Outlaws and its unofficial spokesman, said he was not surprised the match was scoreless at the half.
“I’ve been watching the Netherlands throughout this tournament,” Garcia said. “They are a tough, physical team, and they’ve really frustrated the U.S.”
The stalemate broke and the crowd erupted when Megan Rapinoe scored on a penalty shot in the 61st minute. Eight minutes later, fans erupted even louder when U.S. midfielder Rose Lavelle powered a shot into the right side of the goal. That shot proved to be the game winner.
Eleven-year-old Lily Flanery, a forward for one of Albion Soccer Club’s teams in San Diego, watched the match with her mother, Julie Flanery. She said she enjoyed watching the women’s team win.
“Netherlands put on a good challenge, but we still won,” she said. “It was good.”
Julie Flanery said the team’s accomplishment meant a lot for the kids watching as an example of what can be accomplished with hard work.
“Globally, they don’t get as much attention as the men’s sport, and the money’s not there, but these wins show that they still perform and show up for the USA,” she said. “It’s great to have my daughter see that.”
Shawn Gwyn lives in Point Loma and has two daughters, 11 and 8, who also play on Albion club teams. She said the sport is a large part of her family’s life.
“It’s great to have my girls be in a sport that’s seen so positively around the world,” she said. “The women on the U.S. team are such positive role models.”
Sydney Gwyn, 8, said she enjoys watching and playing soccer. She said the U.S. team made her want to keep playing.
“I feel just excited,” she said after the game. “And like that might be me one day.”
Kellie Dyer stood in front of the stage with the rest of the American Outlaws members. She said she and her daughter joined the supporter’s club when her daughter graduated high school eight years ago and that the sport played a big role in their relationship.
"(She) played soccer her whole life,” Dyer said. “It gave her the ability to work with other people. It gave her lots of confidence.”
Dyer said success by the women’s team was especially important because men’s sports are often valued above women’s.
“I think it’s great, and the best part about it is girls have somebody to look up to,” she said. “Men’s sports (are) on TV all the time, and women’s sports (are) only on when it’s something special like the World Cup.”
Garcia said fans are always welcome to join the American Outlaws at their home bar, Kearny Mesa’s O’Brien’s Pub, anytime one of the U.S. national teams are playing.
“We have families, we have dogs, it’s always a fun time,” he said.