It is time for the last group, and we only have DAYS until the biggest tournament of the summer kicks off! Four teams remain to be reviewed, and first up in group F is no other than the USA.
This is a team and a nation used to winning. Ever since the first inaugural Women’s World Cup took place in China in 1991, which the US won, they’ve come to set the tone for what is possible to expect from this team. They’ve won three World Cups in 1991, 1999 and 2015, which is the most out of any team, they’ve won four Olympic women’s gold medals, eight CONCACAF Gold Cups as well as ten Algarve Cups. To add to this, they’ve gotten a medal in every World Cup and Olympic tournament from 1991 to 2015 (until the Olympics in Rio 2016 when they were kicked out in the quarterfinals by Sweden). That is quite a silverware collection this team has got so far, and they’ll be looking for more. They cruised through the qualification tournament, beating Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and at last Canada in the final to secure their ticket to France.
The US is known for developing star players, and this team is no exception. In a country where a lot of the resources are devoted to women’s football, the game is flourishing and a lot of talent has the possibility to come through, important key points that have allowed the US to dominate the women’s football scene for a long time. They simply invest in the game and in their players, and it’s impossible to know where to start when talking about the star players on the national team since they’ve got such depth. Do you start with Alex Morgan, the fighter striker feared by goalkeepers? Or do you start with Mallory Pugh that is such a promising young goalscorer, or why not Carli Lloyd, the veteran who will go into her fourth World Cups and became a legend after her hat trick in the WC final 2015? Or Lindsey Horan, Kelley O’Hara, Meghan Rapinoe, Christen Press or Tobin Heath? There is simply no shortage of talent in this team, especially on the attacking side.
Unfortunately, despite everything this team has done, they’ve still got to fight against a lot of stereotypes and unfair treatment and recently the team filed a lawsuit, a gender discrimination lawsuit against the US Soccer Federation, requesting equal pay. This feels especially frustrating considering the fact that this team is without a doubt one of the biggest nations in women’s football in 2019 who have to go up against their own boss, US Soccer, because they’re still paying the men more than women, even in a country where men’s football is very scarce and their men’s national team didn’t even qualify for the WC in 2018. Meanwhile, the women have – over the course of only seven World Cups in the women’s game – won it three times. Talk about superiority. But that doesn’t protect them from being treated unfairly by their own federation. A numbers example: in 2014 when the United States men’s team were kicked out of the World Cup in the last 16, they received nine (9) million dollars. When the women’s team won the World Cup 2015, they received two (2) million dollars.
It remains to be seen what will happen with the lawsuit, but it’s hard not to argue the fact that they had to file it at an uncomfortable time, adding more pressure to their already pressured World Cup campaign, going into the tournament as defending champions.
Jill Ellis has been in charge of the team since 2014 when she took over from Tom Sermanni (who now coaches New Zealand), and she first led them to their World Cup victory back in 2015. Ellis, who is from England, did not play any organised football until her family moved to the US when she was 15, as such a thing as football for women did not exist for girls in the 70’s, but she went on to play a lot of football. She has previously worked for different college teams and was the assistant coach for Pia Sundhage during her reign at the national team, and she has also worked with the US U-20 and U-21 previously. Ellis likes to play it very consistent with her 4-3-3 formation and has had success with it so far.
The USWNT has played a few friendlies this spring leading up to the tournament. They participated in the SheBelieves cup back in March on home soil, winning over Brazil but drawing with Japan and England, and they did not have a chance at the title. Since then they’ve played Australia, Belgium, South Africa, New Zealand and Mexico, winning against all of the teams and only conceding against the Matildas.
That’s a quick round-up on the US women’s national team. The Americans are favoured by many to grab another title and make it back-to-back cups, but first, they have to get out of their group, which can prove to be tricky with several good teams in the way. Do you think the US can do it again? Let us know in the comment section!