US women’s soccer team defeats Ireland

The US women’s soccer team, still World Champions and emerging advocates for women’s rights, returned to center stage with flair Saturday night.

On the field, the Americans dispatched Ireland 3-0 in a friendly at the Rose Bowl, their first match since winning the World Cup last month in France.

Energized fans, many of them teenage girls, greeted their returning heroes with high-pitched melodies.

Sing song chants of “To-bin,” “Lind-sey,” “Car-ly” and more echoed through the crowd of 37,000.

Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan and Carly Lloyd answered the enthusiastic calls with a goal each.

“This is an iconic stadium, being able to play here was amazing,” Lloyd said after the match.

The American star alluded to 1999, when the US won the second of four World Cup championships on a Brandi Chastain penalty kick against China.

“It’s kind of come full circle,” Lloyd added.

Off the pitch this weekend, the US Women’s National Team Players Association announced a partnership with Time’s Up activists to raise funds to help fight for pay equity in various industries.

The “Time’s Up, Pay Up” campaign aims to change culture, comparisons and laws, according to a statement from the players.

“It’s about sitting down and just getting different ideas together and figuring out how we can all connect and all support one another, whether it’s actresses and athletes and business people in general,” Lloyd explained. “So it was really cool and empowering to be a part of.”

Lloyd said she and some of her teammates flew out to Los Angeles early to meet with a mix of powerful women.

Her coach praised the squad for excellence on the pitch, and being articulate spokeswomen for their causes.

“I think it’s part of what this team is about, what these players are about,” coach Jill Ellis said after the game.

Ellis recently announced she’s leaving her position to spend more time with her family.

Adoring fans cheered for the departing coach, and some broke into Queen’s song “We are the Champions” during the match.

Former Lakers’ megastar Kobe Bryant attended as did Cecily Strong of “Saturday Night Live” fame.