September 24, 2017 was a day of firsts at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey as teams from 33 nations competed in the 2017 Danone Nations Cup World Final. For the first time in its 18 year history, the Danone Nations Cup, the world's largest and most important international youth soccer tournament, included teams of girls representing six nations. After three days of preliminary competitions, the 2017 tournament championship came down to a boys final match between Argentina and Mexico and a final girls match between Canada and Brazil.
Above: Abby Wambaugh, first among all professional soccer players in scoring, male or female, greets the Brazilian girls team, the first girls team to win the Danone Nations Cup World Final. Photo Credit: Warren Rosenberg www.nyspg.com
The appearance of the Canadian and Brazilian teams were notable for two very important and similar reasons. As noted in an earlier article in MetroSports Magazine, the first ever international soccer match played in the United States took place just 4 miles from Red Bull Arena, in 1885, and featured a visiting team from Canada. The return of a Canadian girls team in this first Danone Nations Cup World Final to be played in the United States was a fitting tribute to that first Canadian team of 132 years ago.
When Red Bull Arena first opened on March 20, 2010, the first visiting team to play in the arena in a match against the New York Red Bulls was a team from Brazil, the Santos FC. Again, how fitting it is that the first girls team to win the Danone Nations Cup World Championship in Red Bull Arena was the team from Brazil.
Abby Wambach, USA ambassador of the Danone Nations Cup, said: “A massive congratulations to Mexico and Brazil for winning this year’s Danone Nations Cup World Final. All teams showed tremendous skills and talent on the pitch. I’m very proud to be part of this fantastic program,helping children develop their passion for football and grow with a great deal of respect for themselves and others around them. I seriously urge everyone to continue to believe in their dreams and wish them the best of luck for the future.”
In a hard fought match, Brazil and Canada exchanged goals, ending regulation play in a tie. It took a series of penalty kicks to decide the final victor which, this time, was Brazil.
The final standings in the Girls Division were:
# 1 Brazil
# 2 Canada
# 3 USA
# 4 France
# 5 Spain
# 6 Italy
Read more about the 2017 Danone Nations Cup at www.MetroSportsMag.com