TOTM Rayfield Womens World Cup 2019

Before she left for France, Janet Rayfield took in a U.S. pool play game against Sweden at the Pour House in Champaign.

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University of Illinois soccer coach JANET RAYFIELD will be in the Parc des Princes stands Friday for the Women’s World Cup match between the U.S. and host France, dressed appropriately: In red, white and blue.

“The U.S. fans have flocked to France,” Rayfield said, “and I am proud to be joining them.”

Here’s more from the longtime USA Soccer contributor:

Going as a fan — and not coach — has its perks.

“To go to France and just cheer on some of those players and coaches as they pursue their dreams of playing in and competing for a World Cup gold medal — wow! No responsibility and a whole lot of fun and pride. I will be a true fanatic.

It’s not the first time she’s left the whistle at home.

“I have been at some pivotal moments in U.S. soccer history as a fan: the ’96 Olympics in Athens, the Rose Bowl in ’99. I think U.S. against France in Paris could be another of those pivotal moments, and I feel blessed to be joining the throngs of Americans that will flock to witness the greatness that will be on the field.”

One of North Carolina’s all-time great players could hang with ALEX MORGAN and Co.

“The game and the players are so much more athletic and so much more sophisticated on and off the ball,” she said. “But I could score goals then and I would hope that I would have worked just as hard and been able to score goals now, too. In my dreams I can!”

She’s most looking forward to ...

“Enjoying another special moment in the journey that women’s soccer (and me along with it) has been on since I was first introduced to this game in 1973. Seeing the game embraced and celebrated by the European culture that has been reluctant to welcome women’s soccer into its national pastime. And watching JILL ELLIS and this team in person demonstrate their relentless pursuit of greatness that is so evident in their daily culture.”