Greg Cote

Queens of the world! U.S. wins Women’s World Cup to keep the dynasty going | Opinion

They are American royalty -- the queens of the world.

There have been nine Women’s World Cups held since the first in 1991, and the United States national soccer team won its second straight and fourth overall with Sunday’s convincing 2-0 triumph over the Netherlands in Lyon, France.

The U.S. women emphatically affirmed their standing on top of their sport with a 7-0 World Cup run in which they outscored opponents 26-3 and never trailed, not for a minute.

Critics say the team celebrates too much. Is arrogant.

They relentlessly earn the right, and did again Sunday.

Megan Rapinoe on a penalty kick in the 61st minute and Rose Lavelle with a laser inside the right post in the 69th scored for the Americans. Rapinoe at 34 became the oldest woman ever to score in a World Cup final, and her sixth score of this Cup earned her the Golden Boot for most goals.

“It’s unbelievable just to know all the people who put in so much work. It’s surreal. It’s ridiculous,” Rapinoe said right afterward. “We’re crazy and that’s what makes us special. We have no quit in us.”

A piece of the championship comes home to Miami with U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who lives in Palmetto Bay just south of downtown.

The Americans overcame all challenges, all competition, all controversy, all of the pressure, all of the expectations, making goals, making history.

The U.S. had scored in the 12th minute or sooner in all six previous games in this Cup -- the three group-stage matches and then the knockout-round wins over Spain, host France and England.

The nil-nil tension lasted longer Sunday, the game a taut, scoreless tightrope right into halftime. It marked only the second time in this Cup the U.S. did not lead at the half. The other was a 1-1 score at the break vs. Spain in the first knockout game.

The Americans had the better of play in the first 45-plus in terms of goal chances, but without reward.

Alex Morgan put a left-footed bullet on point, but the shot was parried wide. An earlier Morgan redirect took a foot save by the Dutch goalie that sent the ball off the post but back into her arms, inches from the goalline. Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis also had good chances for the U.S.

The run of play finally paid off, though. Three days after the Fourth of July, the U.S. went off like fireworks in the second half.

Rapinoe, purple hair and golden foot, netted a penalty kick that froze the Dutch goalkeeper, for her 50th career national-team goal and perhaps biggest yet. The penalty, a high kick that impeded and knocked down Morgan, was affirmed after review.

Eight minutes later the rising American star Lavelle, 24, dribbled down the gut of the Dutch defense and sent a left-footed missile banging inside the right post for the insurance goal, the breathing room.

Tens of thousand of American fans cheered the triumph in France, and around the country.

Fox TV showed watch parties across the States, including thousands clad in red, white and blue filling Grant Park in Chicago, some 10,000 in downtown Kansas City, and thousands more in Atlanta.

That the U.S. women’s national team has been much more successful than the American men has been clear for years.

It’s increasingly quantifiable the USWNT is more popular, too.

The U.S. women have earned more revenue from matches than the men every year since 2015. USWNT jerseys are the No. 1-selling soccer apparel at U.S.-driven TV ratings have been strong for Fox in this Cup.

The impetus sparked by the U.S. has led FIFA president Gianni Infantino to propose the Women’s World Cup be increased from 24 to 32 teams. and double prize money and financial support for participating teams. FIFA also proposes to increase the number of international tournaments across the calendar -- all intended to grow the women’s game and increase its depth of quality.

The Americans’ reign over the sport is a dynasty. No less.

“There is some sort of double standard in sports fcor females in sports,” Morgan had noted the other day. “To feel like we have to be humble in our successes and have to celebrate, but not too much.”

Celebrate as much and as loud as you wish, ladies.

You earned every bit of it