The Record Setting Journey Of The US Women’s National Soccer Team At The 2019 FIFA World Cup
By Neha S. and Nikhil S.
Crowds of red, white, and blue filled the stadiums in France as the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) formidably challenged all of their opponents to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. From Chile and Thailand to France and Sweden, the USWNT faced a diverse set of teams to become the first country to win four FIFA Women’s World Cup titles, all while breaking many other records along the way.
The World Cup kicked off with the USWNT proving once again why they’re champions and the favorites of the tournament by demolishing newcomer team Thailand 13-0 with ten goals scored in the second half of the game. First time World Cup players Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis, and Mallory Pugh all scored their first World Cup goals and veteran Alex Morgan scored a record of five goals in this game. The USWNT continued to stand undefeated in the group matches as they effortlessly beat Chile 3-0 and Sweden 2-0, even though Sweden eliminated the US team in the quarterfinals match at the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
After cruising through the group stage, the USWNT faced stiffer competition as they tackled a rather aggressive Spain in the round of sixteen. The US team ceded a goal to Spain, breaking a streak of playing for 649 minutes without ever letting the opponents score. Megan Rapinoe, however, saved the day with a pair of penalty kicks which advanced the team to an exciting game against another favorite World Cup team: France. Perceived as the “final in the quarterfinals” and the “match everyone wanted to see,” all of the players felt prepared and excited to play their long-time rivals. The US defense came out strong, blocking France from plowing their way to the goal. Rapinoe set another record by scoring two goals in two consecutive World Cup matches after Brazil’s Marta in 2007. With another 2-1 win, the confident US team advanced to the semi-finals.
The semi-finals was an action-packed game with the USWNT playing third-ranked England. Christen Press scored her first World Cup goal in the first ten minutes of the match. She continued the USWNT’s streak of scoring goals within the first twelve minutes of every match in the 2019 World Cup. Alex Morgan scored a goal on her birthday—that’s the first time a player has ever scored a goal on her birthday in the history of the Women’s World Cup. England’s Ellen White came back with many attempts to level the score. However, the moment came down to US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who outstandingly saved a penalty kick and preserved a position in the World Cup finals against the Netherlands.
The USWNT became the first team to ever make three consecutive appearances in the World Cup finals. Despite it being the first time the Netherlands made it to the finals, they played quite strong against the returning champions. They didn’t allow the USWNT to score a goal until 61 minutes into the game, which was a penalty kick by Megan Rapinoe. In addition, Rose Lavelle became the second youngest player to score in a Women’s World Cup final, padding the USWNT’s lead until they eventually won the World Cup, 2-0. Wearing champion jerseys with four stars, the USWNT hoisted their fourth World Cup trophy into the air and celebrated a momentous win for both the sport and the off-field matters (such as equal pay) that the players brought to attention. To add onto the USWNT’s victories, Rapinoe won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals and the Golden Ball as best player overall, Alex Morgan won the Silver Boot, and Lavelle won the Bronze Ball.
The USWNT worked incredibly hard to win another World Cup, and used the tournament as a platform for raising concerns about equal pay and treatment. The team hopes to foster the expansion of the women’s sport and the players persistently stand up for what they believe is right. The USWNT continues to soar to great heights by scoring goals both on and off the field.