The U.S. women’s soccer team managed two impressive feats on July 5: Not only did they earn the right to bring home the 2015 World Cup trophy by defeating defending champion Japan, they also attracted a record number of TV viewers for such an event. According to Deadline, data so far shows that 20.35 million viewers tuned in, making the final America’s most watched soccer game ever.
Those who were expecting a close match were in for a surprise. It became clear early on that even though the game was a showdown between 2011’s top two teams — whose final had to be settled in a shoot-out — we wouldn’t see a repeat of the previous World Cup’s results. Within the first 16 minutes, the U.S. jumped out to a 4-0 lead, thanks to a standout performance by Carli Lloyd. She scored three goals, including an incredible shot that rained down from midfield.
Along with the the press and fans, even Lloyd’s teammates were blown away by the unlikely goal. Megan Rapinoe told Sports Illustrated, “I’m like, ‘Carli, why are you shooting from that far? Oh my God, it’s going in!’”
Japan rallied and managed to answer with two goals, but the U.S. scored yet another, bringing the score to 5-2. From there, they held off Japan until time ran out, which made for a much happier ending for American fans than 2011’s heartbreaking loss. For the first time since 1999, the U.S. women’s team was able to hoist the World Cup trophy, prompting a dance on stage in victory, and players around in gold confetti.
The decisive win by the U.S. women brought in an audience 44 percent larger than their 2011 World Cup loss did, according to Deadline. They even managed to top the previous record of 18.22 million viewers, which was set by the U.S. men’s team during their June 22 match against Portugal in the 2014 Men’s World Cup on ESPN.