The scene yesterday in Paris would have you excused if you thought you were in New York City. The scene in the French capital was one where, if only for a day, American flags dominated the landscape and tens of thousands of fans of the United States Women’s National Team were in town for their second Group F match against Chile.
For many, it was a perfect weekend to head to Paris. It was Father’s Day back home, it was a match in Paris on a Sunday evening, and so it made it easy for fans to make the trip to see a game in this Women’s World Cup featuring the USWNT. The Paris Metro was filled with Americans traveling throughout the system to head to pregame around the Parc des Princes. One big party was hosted by the American Outlaws at Trinquet Village, an old community center set on the banks of the Seine River about 4 blocks from the stadium. The money spent by the estimated 1,500 fans attending the party went directly to help refurbish the community center, of which they hope to remodel their jai alai court into a mini soccer stadium.
Great time was had by everyone, and shortly after 4pm, the march began to the stadium. Paris police shut down the streets for the crowd of Americans who had gathered for the march, and more Americans joined as it started. As the march hit the Porte de Saint Cloud about a block from the stadium, there was not an inch of street that wasn’t covered by American fans. With other fans watching from balconies, cafes, and on the sidewalk, it was a scene that everyone who attended the match will never forget.
The march built up to around 5,000 fans as it approached the stadium, with the crowd only getting louder to spark up their team. Just before the final corner to the stadium, a boisterous group of Chilean fans also started their own chants, leading to a friendly banter of chants between the groups as they high fived each other and gave thumbs up of approval.
Inside the Parc des Princes, it was a sea of American flags with some Chilean flags mixed in. Americans made up at least 75% of the 45,594 fans in attendance, and the chants did not stop for the entire match. In the end, it was a 3-0 victory for the USWNT, but lasting images were plentiful on the day.
It was an electric day, and the USWNT have qualified for the Round of 16. Their final Group F match will be in Le Havre Thursday against Sweden, with 1st place in the group on the line. While many fans are heading back to the United States today, with others moving onto Le Havre, as they say...we’ll always have Paris.