The United States Women’s National Team entered yesterday’s Group F finale against Sweden in Le Havre needing a win or draw to secure 1st place and a return trip to Reims for the Round of 16. For thousands of American fans, it was a chance to visit the Normandy region of France and a beautiful small city at the mouth of the Seine River.
Le Havre wasn’t ready. The scores of American fans that descended upon the small northern city inundated one of the biggest bars in town for their pregame party.
Nevertheless, almost 1,000 fans crowded into a plaza a few miles away from the stadium to take over several bars and have a great time as they prepared for the match. Around 6:30pm, a rally began in the plaza in front of Le Volcan, a famous theater that forms the plaza, where American fans started to get excited for their team.
After about a 15 minute rally, held in part because the traditional march to the match wasn’t possible with the distance, people either hit up buses, the train, or one of the FIFA shuttles to get to the Stade Océane, the mesmerizing stadium where the match was played.
Inside, the crowd was loud, with the majority American crowd screaming chants of “U-S-A!” into the night. The Swedish fans were also out in full force, almost all of them wearing their traditional home yellow jersey and waving Sweden flags. The crowd was jacked up in the first 15 minutes of the match, first with the Lindsey Horan goal and just the nonstop action on both ends of the field. The 1-0 lead would become a nervous one with a couple Swedish chances, but swells of American chants would fill the cool night sky to push the USWNT forward. In the 2nd half, the Tobin Heath goal (later changed to an own goal) would keep the fans excited until the end.
Every defensive stop would be met with enthusiastic celebration, and the final whistle would break out a cheer from the American crowd. The USWNT were through as Group F winners, 2-0 victors over Sweden. For the group stage, they scored 18 goals and allowed 0, a remarkable feat for any team. For the fans, it was another memorable night, and they celebrated as they found transportation to their final destinations. For many, it’s back to the United States after 9 days of matches in the northern part of France. For some, it’s onto the Round of 16 and a day with Spain in Reims. Every match matters from here on out, and by the looks of things, the Americans will be ready. See you Monday, Reims.