The Northern California city of Redding had a lot to celebrate after hometown hero Megan Rapinoe helped lead the U.S. women's national soccer team to its second consecutive world championship and earned awards as the tournament's top scorer and top player.
A large crowd gathered at the California Soccer Park, where several screens were set up for fans who wanted to watch the game. They cheered when Rapinoe netted the first goal in the 61st minute off a penalty, and honored her with applause when she was taken out of the game just a few minutes before it was over.
Draped in a large American flag, David Schlegel was seated a few rows away from a Rapinoe-signed soccer jersey being raffled off at the viewing party. He was there with his wife and three daughters.
“It’s so cool that Megan comes from Redding,” said Schlegel, of Redding. “It’s nice to have good role models.”
The World Cup has helped catapult Rapinoe, who has made the fight for equal pay for female athletes a personal cause and gotten into a Twitter spat with President Trump, to cultural icon status.
At the World Cup's final whistle, fans, many dressed in red, white and blue, chanted "Equal Pay!" — a reminder that players sued the U.S. Soccer Federation in March claiming gender discrimination. The sides have agreed to mediate the lawsuit.
"She has every right to ask for a more level playing field," Schlegel said.