LYON, France – The games are over and the celebration has just begun for the newly crowned Women's World Cup champions. And while the hard work remains of consolidating what the U.S. won on its unbeaten run through the deepest field ever assembled for a women's soccer tournament, the players appear content to let that wait.
"This is really fun, where we're just partying and celebrating all of the last three years and everything that we put into this moment," defender Becky Sauerbrunn said. "This is when we kind of get to decompress a little bit and just enjoy the moment."
The team partied deep into Monday morning at a swank Lyon restaurant, with friends and family members lining up to take pictures with the World Cup trophy. When a U.S. Soccer staff member spotted Jill Ellis patiently waiting her turn at the end of the queue, she quickly guided the only coach to win the trophy twice to the front of the line.
"It was just fun to celebrate together," goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher said. "The 23 of us have been on this journey together for a long time. We've put in a lot of blood, sweat and tears together."
Asked if the magnitude of the team's accomplishments has set in, the reserved Naeher smiled.
"It's getting there," she said.
The team took an early afternoon charter flight from Lyon -- where it was cheered wildly at the airport -- to Newark, N.J., and will make a round of the morning shows Tuesday before being honored with a ticker-tape parade through the streets of Manhattan on Wednesday.
After a short break the team will play a four-game victory tour, beginning with an Aug. 3 date at the Rose Bowl. By then the questions about what comes next will have to start being answered.
Ellis' contract expires at the end of July, and though there is an option for another year -- at $500,000, according to Yahoo Sports -- on the table, there appears to be little left for her to accomplish. She's already the longest-serving and most successful manager in U.S. Soccer history, is unbeaten in two World Cups and is just the second coach, male or female, to win two World Cups, matching Italy's Vittorio Pozzo, who hoisted his last trophy more than 80 years ago.