Though veterans Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone were nominally the co-captains of the U.S. women’s national team, when both of them started the Women’s World Cup final on the bench, the honor went to midfielder Carli Lloyd.

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VANCOUVER, B.C. – Though veterans Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone were nominally the co-captains of the U.S. women’s national team, when both of them started the Women’s World Cup final on the bench, the honor went to midfielder Carli Lloyd.

In the past, in similar circumstances, Lloyd would keep the armband even when her more experienced teammates came on, the chaos of the game overwhelming the desire for ceremony.

On Sunday afternoon at BC Place, when Wambach trotted on as a second-half substitute with the U.S. already sporting the 5-2 lead it would finish with, Lloyd wasn’t taking no for an answer.

“She’s tried to do it a few times before, and I immediately declined,” Wambach said. “It was no big deal. This time, she insisted.”

Women's World Cup:

Wambach, the all-time leading goal scorer in international women’s soccer, announced before the tournament that this World Cup would be her last. She broke into the USWNT two years after its last title prior to Sunday, in 2001. She’d racked up two third-place finishes and a runner-up.

She entered the field to a rousing ovation from the partisan American crowd, departed it a champion. After the final whistle, she shared hugs and tears with her teammates, then ran to the corner to embrace her wife, Sarah Huffman.

“Today, I wanted to make sure that she put the armband on, because she deserves it,” Lloyd said. “She has been legendary. She’s been unbelievable. I’m so thankful I can call her my friend and my teammate. I’m just so proud, in her last World Cup, that she was able to go out strong.”

 

Consoling Miyama

One of the lasting images of the U.S.’s penalty-kick-shootout loss to Japan in the 2011 Women’s World Cup final was that of midfielder Aya Miyama breaking away from her celebrating teammates to console the despondent Americans.

“She was one of the people that came over after we lost, balling,” veteran U.S. defensive midfielder Shannon Boxx said. “It was great, the respect that she gave us, to shake all of our hands and give all of us hugs.”

Four years later, Boxx returned the favor. Boxx, who played with Miyama with the now-defunct Los Angeles Sol, split away from the group of bouncing, happy Americans to find her old teammate.

She wrapped Miyama, the Japanese captain, in a long hug.

“It’s about the respect for her I have a great soccer player – and just as a great friend,” Boxx said. “We talked to each other yesterday. No matter what, we just wanted the other person to be successful. I wanted to make sure I got to go over there and tell her that I love her and that’s she’s a great person.

No vindication

Despite the heavy criticism that Jill Ellis was levied as the Americans slogged their way through an unconvincing group stage, the U.S. coach didn’t fire back in the aftermath of her team’s triumph.

“It’s not vindication or validation,” Ellis said. “It just feels really, really good.”


 

Fans at the Atlantic Crossing Pub in Seattle go crazy for the U.S. Women’s national soccer team as they defeat Japan 5-2 in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Finals. (Lauren Frohne / The Seattle Times)
Most goals in a Women’s World Cup
Carli Lloyd is the first American since Michelle Akers in 1991 to score multiple goals in a Final. She had six goals total in the tournament.
Goals Player Year
10 Michelle Akers, U.S. 1991
7 Marta, Brazil 2007
7 Sissi, Brazil 1999
7 Sun Wen, China 1999
6 Carli Lloyd, U.S. 2015
6 A.K. Aarones, Norway 1995
6 Celia Sasic, Germany 2015