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U.S. women's soccer team does learn of marriage ruling

U.S. Coach Jill Ellis says she's kept her players in a protective "bubble" during this Women's World Cup, rarely allowing news from the outside world to seep in.

But the team was well aware the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Friday in favor of same-sex marriage, with many players reacting happily on social media before the team's 1-0 win over China in the tournament quarterfinals.

Abby Wambach, who married longtime girlfriend Sarah Huffman in 2013, said the team even had a special celebration planned if it scored again against China.

"We were going to give a shout-out to the Supreme Court," said Wambach, one of a few openly gay players on the U.S. team. "Obviously it impacts my life personally. And to cap it off with a win, moving on to the semis in a World Cup, for me it doesn't get better."

Ellis, a naturalized U.S. citizen, also welcomed the court's ruling — for herself and her players.

"Our players, they're great role models," said Ellis, who lives with her partner, Betsy Stephenson, in Florida, a state that only recently recognized same-sex marriage. "And to have it now be something that all of us can embrace, no matter where we live in the country, it's a tremendous step for our country.

"And certainly as somebody who benefits from that, I'm extremely pleased for everybody in our nation."

Escaping penalty

Midfielders Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe were missing from the game with China after picking up their second yellow cards of the tournament in Monday's win over Colombia.

And Wambach was in danger of joining them for criticizing the officiating of French referee Stephanie Frappart in that game. But she apologized for her remarks a day later and FIFA ruled late Thursday she would receive only a warning, clearing her to play. The apology, FIFA said, factored into the decision not to suspend Wambach.

Traveling band

By making it to Montreal for the semifinals, the U.S. will wind up playing in five of the six World Cup venues, traveling more than 3,800 miles during the tournament. Add another 2,300 miles if the Americans make it back to Vancouver for the final, or 1,800 if they wind up in the third-place game in Edmonton.

No other team in the tournament has traveled as much. Germany, for example, played four of its five games in Ottawa and Montreal, which are separated by less than 100 miles. And it will stay in Montreal for its semifinal.

The U.S. played in Winnipeg and Vancouver during the group stage and Edmonton and Ottawa in the knockout rounds.

England, which has already played in four cities, could add a fifth if it gets past Canada in Saturday's semifinal in Vancouver.

No team will play in all six cities.

True gamer

China midfielder Han Peng played 74 minutes Friday despite receiving six stitches in her head following her team's round of 16 win over Cameroon.

Peng bumped heads with a Cameroon player during the game and, after having the wound wrapped in a bandage, was forced to return to the field during injury time because China had already used its three substitutions.

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