The players of the U.S. women’s soccer team submitted 49,504 pieces of evidence in their pursuit of equal pay on Thursday at Lincoln Financial Field.
That was the size of the record crowd that spent the evening with the two-time reigning World Cup champions in their 4-0 win over Portugal. Tobin Heath, Morgan Brian, Carli Lloyd, and Allie Long scored the goals.
“It was one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had,” said Julie Ertz, who got to dress at husband Zach’s locker as the U.S. women made use of the Eagles’ locker room. “To have that amount of fans there, the noise, I was super-excited. ... I’m really excited to tell Zach all about it."
A court of public opinion obviously isn’t the same as a court of law, but the jury on Pattison Avenue made its verdict clear. They had plenty to cheer about, and offered their share of “Equal pay!” chants from the stands.
One of the faces in the crowd was U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, (D., Pa.,) who watched the game from the stands with kids from Chester Upland Youth Soccer and the Manayunk-based Starfinder Foundation. Lincoln Financial Field sits within her congressional district.
“I think women’s soccer is something we should be supporting financially," said Scanlon, who wore a 2007-era gold U.S. women’s team jersey. She and her family have been soccer fans for a long time: they were Philadelphia Charge season ticket holders back in the day. She also worked with John Langel, the Philadelphia-based former attorney for the U.S. women’s players union, when she was a lawyer at Ballard Spahr.
“If you give girls the opportunity to develop, they will reach the world level and perform, and people want to come and see it," Scanlon said. “There’s a general frustration by women about being told no, you can’t do it because we haven’t done it before this way, or when someone’s got their thumb on the scale saying you can’t succeed even though we’re not letting you succeed.”
Congress has held the U.S. Soccer Federation’s feet to the fire at times in recent years. CEO Dan Flynn testified before the Senate in 2015 about FIFA’s corruption, and earlier this year, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W. Va.) threatened to withhold federal funding for the U.S.' hosting of the 2026 men’s World Cup over the equal pay issue.
Scanlon indicated that she’s willing to join that fray.
“To the extent that it’s a U.S. national, representative team, I think it’s fair to have some civil rights and equity conversation about it as well," she said.
Lloyd, who scored the 115th goal of her national team career in her 283rd all-time appearance, thanked Scanlon for the backing.
“We’re seeing all the support around," the Delran native said. "Collectively, we’re united as a group of players and we want to continue to pave the way, continue to make things better for the next generation. Hopefully we can sit down together with U.S. Soccer again and figure things out, because I think we need to be able to work together, and we need this to be a win-win for both parties.”