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US enjoys one final title celebration before leaving Canada

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Megan Rapinoe strolled around taking selfies, occasionally sipping bubbly with her teammates and trying to balance the Women’s World Cup championship trophy on her head.

A day after the United States claimed its third Women’s World Cup title, the party was still going on in Vancouver on Monday.

“I’m one star heavier, one year older,” said Rapinoe, who turned 30 years old on Sunday. “It’s better, I think. I can’t even explain it. Of course all of the hard work and everything for it to culminate in this and share it with this group that we spend so much time together with is just incredible.”

For a number of players, the realization was just beginning to set it of their accomplishment in beating Japan 5-2 for the Americans’ first World Cup title since 1999.

Working on little sleep after a night of celebrating with family, friends and fans — a lot of “smiles, a lot of screaming, a lot of dancing,” according to Julie Johnston — the U.S. team took part in a special event put on by Fox Sports. Players received their first jerseys that included the third star above the crest, the latest title adding the ones earned in 1991 and ’99.

It was a celebration filled with about 1,000 American fans surrounding the set overlooking Coal Harbor on the Vancouver waterfront.

“It hasn’t honestly sunk in. It really hasn’t,” American head coach Jill Ellis said. “You’re on this media thing and doing all this, but at some point it will sink in.”

Perhaps no player was coming to grips with her newfound stardom more than Carli Lloyd, whose hat trick in the first 16 minutes gave the Americans a 4-0 lead. Lloyd went from being one of the top female soccer players in America to one of the country’s biggest sports stars in less than two hours. She was tweeted at by President Barack Obama and even had her Wikipedia page changed briefly to say her position was “President of the United States.”

If Lloyd believed she still had some anonymity in the United States before, there’s a good chance most of that is gone now.

“I think it’s definitely gone to another level,” Lloyd said. “I’m not sure I’m ready for that, but it’s great.”

Lloyd later joked she would love to find a beach to take a break.

“I’m pretty mentally zapped right now. I would love to not think about anything,” she said.

Part of the reason that facelessness might be gone is the record ratings the American women set. The match was seen by 26.7 million viewers on Fox and NBC’s Spanish-language Telemundo, the networks said Monday.

Fans back home were engaged and they were rewarded with the first title for the U.S. in 16 years.

“I think every team that wins has a different story,” Johnston said. “We have a different story. But we share a star and we knew the (1999 players) were rooting for us just like the (1991 players) were rooting for the 99ers.”

Associated Press
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