The year 2019 was one of the extremes for US soccer. While the men’s national team toiled away trying to understand new head coach Gregg Berhalter’s system, the 2019 USWNT women were crowned champions of the world.
Becoming Back-To-Back World Champions
As the reigning champs, the USWNT had a target on their back going into the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Being the dominant force in women’s soccer, everyone wanted a piece of them. Not to mention, the US was coming off their record-breaking 2015 Women’s World Cup triumph over Japan, a.k.a the most-watched final in the history of US soccer.
The year did not start ideally. The U.S. lost 3–1 to France at the start of 2019, ending their 28-game unbeaten streak. That was the first loss since a 1–0 loss to Australia in July 2017. Although a lot had changed in the four years between the two showpiece events, and the competition was noticeably stronger, the USWNT women’s team dominated their group again, kicking off the women’s tournament with a brutal 13-0 beatdown of Thailand.
After defeating Spain, France, and England, they took care of business against the Netherlands in the final, retaining their title and creating World Cup history. Throughout the tournament, the USWNT played with an unmatched swagger while breaking every conceivable record.
After the team’s World Cup victory, Jill Ellis announced she will resign as head coach. In October 2019, Vladko Andonovski was appointed head coach of the USWNT, replacing Ellis.
USWNT Dividing Opinions
With success comes envy. With confidence comes accusations of arrogance. And with being an outspoken woman comes misogyny.
Nobody cares about women’s sports, and the women’s national team is unpatriotic were just two of the countless insults hurled at the team on the road to victory.
All 28 USWNT players filed a lawsuit for gender discrimination on March 8, 2019, against the U.S. Soccer Federation. In the lawsuit, it is claimed that the discrimination affects not only the amount of pay, but their playing, training, and travel conditions as well.
Megan Rapinoe made headlines after saying that she wouldn’t go to the White House if the team won the World Cup soccer tournament. Of course, President Trump didn’t appreciate those comments and publicly went after Rapinoe on Twitter to no one’s surprise.
USWNT Fighting For Equality
Megan Rapinoe and women’s soccer players took all the unfair criticism in stride and continued to use their fame for good.
When the players weren’t on the pitch, they were fighting for equal pay. Rightfully arguing that they should be paid the same as their perennially underperforming male counterparts. (In case you forgot, the men’s national team famously missed the 2018 World Cup.).
Yet, despite being back-to-back world champions and objectively being the more popular team, the USWNT’s fight for equal pay continues. Whether that fight will be successful remains to be seen, but nobody can argue that the four-time champions of the world dominated 2019 both on the soccer field and in popular culture.
Now all eyes are focused on the 2023 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!