The Untold Truth Of The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

On July 7, 2019, it happened again: The U.S.
women’s national soccer team delighted fans and thumbed its nose at the naysayers by winning
their fourth World Cup in a feat of rarely seen sports dominance. So what’s their secret sauce? Here’s a look at the franchise that became
2019’s greatest team in the world. The U.S. women’s national team’s tally of
records is getting so impressive that Good Morning America called the team’s reign a
quote, “dynasty.” And Megan Rapinoe happily accepted the turn
of phrase. “Do you like that word, ‘dynasty’?” “Yeah. I think it suits us, right? I mean if the shoe fits you gotta put it on,
so. This team fits well into that word.” The assessment is hard to argue. The US has now won four of the eight FIFA
Women’s World Cups, and like Germany has managed to win two consecutive titles. Their 13 goals against Thailand in the 2019
World Cup group stage are the most goals a team has scored in a Women’s World Cup match,
and their total of 26 goals in the tournament is also a record. The Thailand match is also the highest margin
of victory in the history of the World Cup, men’s tournament included. When you look into the team’s personal records,
things get doubly impressive. Apart from Rapinoe taking home the Golden
Boot for best scorer and the Golden Ball for best player in the tournament, Jill Ellis
became the first coach to win two Women’s World Cup titles, and striker Alex Morgan’s
five goals in a single match, yes, against poor Thailand, tied her for a record for most
individual goals in a single game. The only other person holding that record? US soccer legend, Michelle Akers. “There’s always talk, ‘Oh who’s the best player
in the world. Who’s the GOAT?’ I don’t really care. That’s not the most important thing to me.” As dominant as the U.S. women’s national soccer
team might seem right now, the tides could soon be changing. As CNBC reports, soccer has been a popular
sport for U.S. women for a long time, so the “talent pool” has been massive compared to
other countries. However, Europe in particular is rapidly gaining
on its stateside opponents, and the increasing number of eyes on women’s soccer will only
further grease the wheels. Europe is churning out many high-quality women’s
soccer leagues, and even previously averse giants like Spain’s Real Madrid are now putting
the focus on women’s teams. England’s Women’s Super League announced a
$12.5 million sponsorship with Barclays in 2019, which is a pretty clear signal for increased
sponsor interest. And, CNN reports that European soccer federations
have also dramatically increased their spending on the women’s game in recent years. “Now it’s our turn.” All this may not be enough to dethrone the
US in the short term, since they already have a pretty decent head start, not to mention
that giant talent pool to guarantee the emergence of new top players. Still, the next World Cup might feature an
increasingly level playing field. If you’ve followed the U.S. women’s national
soccer team in 2019, you may have noticed that they’re vocal about the concept of equal
pay. But they’re taking things quite a bit further
than the occasional pointed interview and crowd chant. “Equal pay, equal pay, equal pay!” As CNN reports, a few months before the World
Cup, 28 members of the US team filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation, claiming
that the significant pay gap between them and the men’s team is discriminatory, and
demanding equal support, funding, working conditions, and cash. “Why on earth wouldn’t we pay people equally?” It’s easy to see why the women are serious
about this. They are paid less than the men, despite the
fact that the women draw more accolades, ratings, and revenue. The avenue they’ve chosen through which to
pursue this is characteristically gutsy, too. Imagine suing your own sports federation mere
months before the most important tournament in four years. Then imagine pushing all that aside to win
said tournament and immediately use your victory as evidence for your case, which the plaintiffs’
spokeswoman Molly Levinson did as soon as they got their medals. With such sheer will to win, the US womens’
team might just give the Federation a run for its literal money. As the Daily Beast attests, U.S. women’s national
soccer team winger Rapinoe doesn’t shy away from activism, to the point that she has described
herself as a quote “walking protest” to the current U.S. administration. “Are you excited about going to the White
House?” “I’m not going to the f—ing White House. No. I’m not going to the White House” According to ABC 13, she is also spearheading
equal pay for female footballers and managed to draw worried smiles and vague promises
of future talks from FIFA bigshots during the trophy presentation, which also featured
chants of quote, “equal pay” by fans in the stands. Still, just because the activism talk has
been focused on Rapinoe doesn’t mean the rest of the team isn’t in on it. As NBC News puts it, the World Cup winners
are now quote, “embracing a front-line role in social justice causes” in ways few other
sports teams ever have. They’re all obviously onboard with the “equal
pay” thing. When Rapinoe drew the ire of President Donald
Trump with her comments that she wouldn’t go to the White House if invited, the rest
of the team stood by her. The team has also become a powerful symbol
of LBGQT inclusiveness, as five squad members including Ali Krieger and Ashlyn Harris who
are engaged to each other and coach Jill Ellis, are all openly gay. The U.S. women’s national soccer team has
drawn much ire and criticism, to the point where they’ve almost been cast as the “villains”
of women’s soccer. They have been criticized for their goal celebrations
and their enthusiasm over winning by a huge margin. Posters featuring star player Megan Rapinoe,
an openly gay human rights activist who has feuded with President Donald Trump, have been
vandalized with hate speech. Foreign media such as the Irish Examiner has
even been known to call the team, quote “arrogant, entitled and self centered,” and, ironically,
“Trumpian.” “The team no one can look away from. The team everyone wants to take down.” As CNN points out, the U.S. women’s perceived
antagonist status is actually good for the sport. And it’s all because their swaggering displays
of dominance, joyful celebrations, and unapologetic attitude in the face of demands for humility,
not to mention their noting that male players wouldn’t be hassled for wild celebrations,
managed to draw virtually unprecedented attention to the Women’s World Cup. It also created tons of discussion about the
tournament and the equality issues surrounding it. As for the players themselves, well, their
World Cup win clearly shows that the team couldn’t be less bothered with whatever strange
villain role some people seem determined to cast them in. The 2019 team may be fresh on everyone’s
mind right now, but they aren’t the first US team to dominate the world and impress
soccer experts. Just like the legendary FC Barcelona “MSN”
trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, and Neymar, few things set the soccer fan’s heart ablaze
like a team with an unstoppable attacking trio. And as FIFA notes, the U.S. women’s national
soccer team featured one of these legendary forward lines in the form of Carin Jennings-Gabarra,
Michelle Akers, and April Heinrichs. This unstoppable trio was integral during
the US women’s team’s victorious 1991 World Cup campaign in China. They were so destructive that they produced
a whopping 20 of the team’s 25 goals in the tournament, and so thoroughly impressive that
the enamored Chinese media started calling them the quote, “Triple-Edged Sword.” Jennings-Gabarra, who won the Golden Ball
for the best player of the tournament, attributes a lot of the Triple-Edged Sword’s success
to the fact that the US was one of the first teams that started deploying three forwards
on the pitch. She told, “It was a different style for other teams
and they didn’t know how to handle that or how to react to it because they had never
seen something like it before.” As ESPN puts it, the U.S. women’s national
soccer team is one of those squads that are simply so strong, they enter every tournament
with expectations of victory and consider anything less a failure. This is why the US team’s results in the 2000s
when they were unable to reach the Women’s World Cup finals in both 2003 and 2007 were
considered disappointing despite the fact that the team took third place in both tournaments. The limbo wouldn’t end until 2015, 16 years
after their last World Cup win. At that point on, ESPN was talking about a
full-on “drought” and analyzing the failures of the previous decade. In their opinion, the 2003 campaign was a
mess of mistakes, injuries, and bad luck that culminated in a key defense error against
Germany and subsequent defeat. The big mistake of 2007, on the other hand,
was easier to spot: The strange benching of goalkeeper Hope Solo in favor of backup goalie
Brianna Scurry for an important semifinal game against Brazil led to a number of goals
that at least Solo herself is sure she would have saved. A good team is nothing without a great coach,
and in Jill Ellis, the U.S. women’s national soccer team has more than it needs to win,
win, and win some more. As CNN reports, Ellis comes from a soccer
household: her father ran a soccer academy, and Ellis spent her youth learning the craft
and playing on the streets, even joining a team herself in her teenage years. “Everyone, this is my father, John Ellis,
he was my first coach, probably my life coach.” Despite clearly being bitten by the soccer
bug, Ellis initially tried to pursue other careers, and after getting her university
degree she scored a lucrative job writing telecommunications manuals. This was roughly as interesting as you’d expect,
and she was bored to death until she received a phone call from her father’s old disciple,
who wanted to hire her as an assistant soccer coach at the University of Maryland. With her father’s support, Ellis accepted
the job despite the significantly smaller salary, and dove into the world of coaching. It’s probably safe to say the risk was worth
taking: Today, the US team boss is the only coach who has won the Women’s World Cup twice
and the team has only lost only seven of their 126 games under her. “We have athleticism, we have technique and
we have mentality. And I think those three combined, especially
on a soccer team, make us pretty formidable.” With all the hype they’re getting, it might
be easy to think that the current U.S. women’s national soccer team is the best there has
ever been. Only time will tell whether that’s true, but
as Bleacher Report attests, the excellency of the current crop doesn’t take away from
the fact that past versions of the team have also had plenty of uniquely talented players. “USA! USA! USA!” Arguably the finest player who has ever put
on a US women’s team shirt is Mia Hamm, whose 158 international goals, 145 assists, and
two FIFA player of the year awards not to mention top spots at the 1991 and ’99 Women’s
World Cups, and ’96 and 2004 Olympics, made her the “face of soccer” in the U.S. for years. Abby Wambach’s 184 goals, 77 of which were
headers, are a record for an international player, and her dramatic equalizer against
Brazil in 2011’s World Cup played a part in popularizing women’s soccer. There’s Kristine Lilly and her record 354
US national team caps; Hope Solo, the confrontational goalkeeper who won Golden Gloves in two different
World Cups and lost only 11 US national games; Joy Fawcett, who was a reliable center back
in three World Cups and two Olympics while acting as a head coach for UCLA; and the list
goes on and on. It’s probably fair to say that with the current
interest in women’s soccer, the future will see more than a few additions to these legends
of the US women’s national team. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Grunge videos about your favorite
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Antonio Breitenberg

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