MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This Sunday, the U.S. Women’s soccer team will compete for the FIFA World Cup Championship. The match-up against Japan will be a repeat of the 2011 championship game when the U.S. lost in a penalty shootout.
Support for the women’s team has grown as the team has moved ahead in the tournament. Some of their most loyal fans are young girls.
Success on the soccer field typically starts off the field. With state qualifiers just a few weeks away, the North Suburban U-13 girls’ team puts in the extra practice to follow in the footsteps of another team also fighting for a championship.
“I want to be like them, play like them, how well they play,” said Maddie Meloch, a soccer player.
Maddie Meloch and her friends watched the U.S. women defeat Sweden in Canada last month.
“It was really fun. It was a really cool experience. I’ve always wanted to see them play,” said Kallie Tuominen.
The U-13 team returned home with aspirations of soccer greatness. The goal is shared by young athletes, especially girls, around Minnesota.
“I really want to play on the team, just like everyone else,” Meloch said.
“It’s kind of an inspiration. They think they can go that far,” Haugen said.
From the Soccer Planet store in Blaine, Alysha Haugen has watched the game grow in recent weeks. Every U.S. win brings in more customers to the store.
“When they want to get into soccer they’re asking who are the players we can look for,” Haugen said.
Across the street at the National Sports Center in Blaine, The MN United Soccer team have seen a sudden surge in their day camp where young athletes can hone their skills with help from the pros.
“The World Cup Women’s team is such a great role model for all kids, but, particularly for girls to see that they can have this type of fight and desire,” said MN United Coach Manny Lagos.
The U.S. Women may be one game away from World Cup glory but to these young players the U.S. women have already reached the ultimate goal.
“Whenever I see them, I always kind of think it could happen if I work my hardest towards it,” Tuominen.
The World Cup championship game starts at 6:00 on Sunday. There are several viewing parties around Minneapolis including Crooked Pint, Target Field Station and Sneaky Pete’s.