Colorado's World Cup soccer stars, Lindsey Horan from Golden, and Mallory Pugh from Highlands Ranch got a royal welcome home Monday night.
Gov. Jared Polis issued a proclamation at the Colorado Rapids game against English Premier League powerhouse Arsenal. The proclamation honored Horan and Pugh for their role in the team’s recent World Cup win.
The pair spoke to reporters before the game.
How has the last week been for you?
Mallory Pugh: "I personally found the parade to be the best. It was crazy because I honestly wasn't expecting anything like that. And we were in New York and there were millions and millions of people screaming at us and it was just cool to see the impact that we had on so many fans, and so many different people. That's what was the coolest part for me. And then just to share it with our teammates, our team and the period was just so much fun."
Lindsey Horan: "I think a little sleep deprived. It's been a whirlwind these past three or four days. We flew straight to New York, had the (appearance on) Good Morning America, the parade, flew over to LA for the ESPYS. I think we've been just trying to soak it all in and enjoy it and know that this past basically six, seven weeks that we were together. We now just get to fully enjoy and celebrate and as a team and with our family and friends. And then being back here in the states, it's insane seeing the fan base and the support we get. We felt it there but now we really feel it. It's been insane."
What was the parade like?
Horan: "I have never been a part of something like that. And being on the float at that time in the morning and over a million people there watching you, just coming to support you. I mean absolutely insane."
What was the moment of victory, winning the Women’s World Cup?
Pugh: "It was crazy. I never expected how it went down and it was just like such a hard journey and I know everyone's had a different journey and different path to get there and it just makes me realize all the sacrifices that I've had to make and all the sacrifices my family's had to make and my friends have it had to make. That moment was all worth it."
Horan: "Super emotional. I think for everyone, each player had a different journey getting there. I think that's what makes it so sweet is everyone went through some kind of struggle and, and hardship and this four-year cycle and journey to this World Cup and to be able to lift that (trophy) together, knowing everyone's path to get there. It's so sweet and so emotional. I don't know how many were crying. I cried like five times on the field and keep crying, so it's emotional."
What was it like scoring a goal?
Pugh: "That was fun! I mean I didn't expect that either. I think just to be the first game of a World Cup, your first game, and scoring a goal, it kind of ties the bow on it."
Horan: “Oh, that's amazing. I'm sure Mal felt the same, but scoring in a World Cup is the most incredible feeling in the world. And you just want to run around the field as many times as you can. I was so happy, so excited, wanting to cry out in the field too."
The team faced criticism when it came to goal celebrations and a lot of different things. How do you view that?
Pugh: "Well, that's why I didn't have social media or media. We did hear about it but I was just thankful that I was able to be there and experience something like that. Like no team ever has set that (goals) record and it's the World Cup. You worked your whole life for it. I think we're going to celebrate and we're going to enjoy the moment and there's obviously emotions that come out and it was definitely a fun time for us."
How much did you and your teammates realize you were kind of becoming a cultural, social movement here in the states?
Pugh: "Honestly, I didn't have media whatsoever during that time because we were solely focused on what we had to do. I think that's why coming back to America and seeing the impact that we had and why the parade was so special for me just to see the impact that we had during that time. It's amazing and I think that's just the beginning of it. I think we're going to keep on having an impact and hopefully positively impacting not only little girls, but I mean people all around the world."
Mallory, can you talk about the pressure that you felt personally and also that the team felt, especially with the lawsuit (filed against US Soccer for equal pay and equal treatment) before the World Cup?
Pugh: "Honestly we as a team kind of set that aside and our main focus was to win a World Cup and I think everyone kind of individually focused on what they needed to do in order to help the team do that. So we honestly didn't really talk about it until, yeah, we haven't really talked about it, because our focus was to win the World Cup and that's done."
Can you just talk about your relationship with Mal, how much it's grown through this past month?
Horan: "I think especially in this World Cup it's grown a lot. I think Mal and I kind of looked at each other as sisters. Sometimes she's my younger sister, but sometimes I look at her and she seems the same age as me. I think she's matured so much in these past two years and the way that she handled herself during this World Cup, the support she gave her teammates coming out and scoring and her first World Cup game, we went on this journey together and I think at any point when we had difficult times through this World Cup, we kind of came to each other and, and that support is, you know, it's so huge, especially she's so young, but she is amazing for me and hopefully I did the same for her."
Were you a little disappointed not to see more action?
Horan: “Yeah, I think, I think it's a really hard thing. Obviously, you know, outside as players we want to play in the final and, and that's always our goal and our dream and, but on the other side of the thing is the goal was to win that World Cup final and you know, me and Mal both didn't play in the game and I think that was very hard itself. But also I think it's the most important thing that you have the support from the bench. And I think I did a very good job and our whole bench did a very good job at supporting our teammates and being there and being so happy when we won. And it, you know, it takes 23 (players), it's not just those 11 on the field."
So what's next?
Pugh: “I'm just so thankful to be a part of it because I've learned so much from the veteran players and honestly after winning this, it's like I've learned what it takes, it's going to be a whole other level to achieve like what we needed to achieve and to get the younger girls to step up. But I know they're fully capable of it and we've learned a lot and we're still gonna continue to learn from the veterans and continue to hopefully inspire people and focus on the Olympics for next year."
The 1999 U.S. Women’s National Team had a big legacy in terms of young people playing and this thing really taking off. What’s the legacy of this 2019 group?
Horan: "I mean, I think you see it all over the place. I think obviously winning back-to-back World Cups is something in itself, but what we're doing outside of the game as well. And I what we're fighting for and fighting for women and equal pay and everything I think is such an incredible movement to be a part of. And the world is watching and everyone knows and I think so many people are standing up for it and coming in and joining us. And I think it's just our team is more than just a soccer team right now. And I think it's so incredible to be a part of it."