Washington Spirit Welcome Back World Cup Champions on First Responders’ Night

Rose Lavelle was not a household name when the U.S. Women’s National Team left for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, held June 7 to July 7 in France, she is now. The 24-year-old Washington Spirit and USWNT midfielder scored the insurance goal in the 69th minute of Team USA’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands for its second consecutive World Cup title, and fourth overall—and was then awarded the Bronze Ball award, given to the tournament’s third-best player.

Lavelle and World Cup—and Washington Spirit—teammate Mallory Pugh will be back at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds on July 20 as the Spirit look to snap a two-game losing streak against the Houston Dash.

The two, who joined their USWNT teammates on July 10 for a celebratory ride along the “Canyon of Heroes” in New York City during a ticker tape parade attended by thousands of fans, will be honored by the Spirit as world champions in a postgame ceremony—and available to sign autographs.

The Spirit’s first home game since June 29 will be special all around.

On Washington’s first-ever First Responders’ Night, first responders will be honored at halftime and serve as the Color Guard for the game opening. Plus, all six Spirit players who competed in the 2019 World Cup will be on hand for the first time all season.

In her international breakout, Lavelle, a Cincinnati native who dressed as her own World Cup hero, Mia Hamm, for a third-grade project, started six of the USWNT’s seven games in France. She scored three goals and created havoc in the midfield with her speed and craftiness.

Pugh also tallied a goal and assist during the team’s dominant run. Propelled by a franchise record seven-game unbeaten streak that stretched from the end of April to late June, Washington currently stands in fourth place on the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) leaderboard—the top four teams advance to playoffs. Though there will likely be an adjustment period, the return of Lavelle and Pugh to the lineup should provide a needed spark in the final third.

The Spirit continues to rely on stalwart goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe, who has tallied a league-high 49 saves, to keep them in every game. The acrobatic goalie notched her fourth NWSL Save of the Week in 11 games on July 9.