We all know the familiar chant. “I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win! I believe that we will win!” It’s the chant that has come to define our national soccer program. We chanted it last year as the men took on Germany, and we continued to chant it this year when our women took on Germany.
I was fortunate enough to be at the women’s USA v Germany game and it was amazing to see so many people who didn’t know each other come together to support one cause. It was crazy to hear a stadium, packed with fans in red, white and blue, screaming and cheering in unison, all willing the USA to a victory. And, as most of the country knows, what a victory it was.
The game was held in Olympic Stadium, located in beautiful Montreal. (For those of you looking for a European-like vacation without the travel, Montreal is the place to go. Old Town Montreal looked like the streets you would find in a European city.) If you don’t know (you probably don’t) Canada is split into provinces, sort of like states, and Montreal is located in the province of Quebec. In Quebec, unlike the rest Canada, the main language is French. Most of the people there do speak English as a second language, but French is everywhere. After a day or two of hearing mainly French, I was surprised how comforting it was to hear English and be around my fellow Americans at the soccer game.
The sheer amount of Americans who came to support our team was also comforting. Of the 51,000+ people who attended the game at least 49,000 of them had to have been American. It was essentially a home game for our ladies. There were so many of us roaming the streets of Montreal before the game and yelling “USA! USA!” as we walked between conversations filled with French that I heard a Canadian guy behind me say (in English of course) “Oh my god there are so many Americans and they’re so gosh darn annoying.” I obviously had to switch out some choice words he said, but you get the gist. There were a lot of us.
The game was great. Our women played phenomenally and looked better than they had in their previous World Cup games. We won after a beautiful penalty kick by Carli Lloyd and a great finish by Kelly O’Hara. The final 2-0 score showed how much skill, drive and heart our women had put into the game to defeat the number one ranked team in the world, Germany. It was a huge win which sent us to the World Cup Finals against Japan, who we beat 5-2 to become World Champions.
The best part, for me at least, about the amount of support at the game was that it showed how much soccer has grown in the US, specifically on the women’s side. While we cherish football and baseball here at home, the rest of the world enjoys soccer, which is, in fact, the most popular sport in the world. The amount of fans who went to the games, watched the games at home and bought jerseys was encouraging and proved that soccer has become more popular in the US and will hopefully continue to do so.