History is easy to miss when it is normalized. The United States Women’s National Team spent its summer making history, and it was easy to miss.
The USWNT has dominated women’s soccer since the first Women’s World Cup took place in 1991. China played host to the inaugural event, but the Americans came out on top. Eight years later, Brandi Chastain’s penalty kick famously beat Chinese goalkeeper Gao Hong, giving the Americans their second World Cup in three tries.
Manager Jill Ellis’ side entered this year’s tournament — considered the deepest field ever — as the defending champions and co-favorites. France, the other co-favorite, boasted the most talented roster outside of the United States. Germany, ranked second in the world, was ruthless and dominant. England won the SheBelieves Cup this spring, besting a field that included the United States, Brazil, and Japan. Norway, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada, and Australia all had high expectations and the talent for a deep run.
Nobody came close to the Americans.
In seven games against the best competition in the world, the USWNT never lost, never drew, never needed extra time or penalties to win a match. In fact, the Americans never trailed in the entire tournament. They led the field in goals per game, expected goals per game, shots per game, shots on target per game, and expected goals allowed per game.
This level of dominance has never been seen at the Women’s World Cup. The 2019 World Cup-winning side will rightly go down as the greatest women’s soccer team, and the greatest American soccer team regardless of gender, in the history of the sport.
History is easy to miss when it is marginalized. The United States Women’s National Team has spent years making history, and it was easy to miss.
Megan Rapinoe’s now-infamous comments about visiting the White House following a World Cup victory actually occurred in January, despite only being released last month. Rapinoe was also one of the few white athletes in the United States to protest systematic racism alongside Colin Kaepernick and many other NFL players by kneeling, sitting, and abstaining from singing during the national anthem.
Players past and present, such as Rapinoe, Abby Wambach, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger, have been at the forefront of the fight for LGBTQ rights for years.
In March, Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and 25 other members of the USWNT filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the United States Soccer Federation. The lawsuit claims the women’s national team receives inferior wages, poorer working conditions, and less support from the USSF than the USMNT despite doing the same job.
As if winning the deepest and most difficult Women’s World Cup tournament in history — and doing so in dominant fashion — wasn’t enough, the USWNT did so while fighting for equal rights on multiple fronts.
And they’re winning. As usual.
Despite being panned for her comments by the likes of President Donald Trump and Fox News’ clown car of pundits, Rapinoe was on point — Trump has not only failed to extend an invitation to the USWNT, as he promised he would, but he has openly criticized its stars.
Meanwhile, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) joined the USWNT’s cause earlier this week, introducing a bill blocking government funding for the 2026 World Cup — which will be jointly hosted by the United States, Canada, and Mexico — until the USWNT receives equal treatment by the USSF.
The USWNT’s lawsuit highlights a major pay discrepancy that has been ignored for years. Each member of the USWNT has a maximum annual salary of $99,000, or a little less than $4,950 per match. That is assuming the team plays, and wins, 20 matches in a calendar year. Were the USMNT to do the same, each player would earn approximately $13,166 per match. That’s a 266 percent increase for a team that is less profitable than the reigning world champions.
And if any female footballer in this country wants to pull on the jersey of the Stars and Stripes, they need to play their club soccer stateside … where they make notably less than their European counterparts. Alex Morgan (Olympique Lyonnais), Megan Rapinoe (Olympique Lyonnais), Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyonnais), Carli Lloyd (Manchester City), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Lindsey Horan (Paris Saint-Germain), and Crystal Dunn (Chelsea) all spent time with European powerhouses but were forced to return to the National Women’s Soccer League to remain eligible for inclusion on the USWNT roster.
Compare this to the men’s freedom to sign with any team on any continent in the world. USMNT talisman Christian Pulisic just sealed a move to Chelsea, where he will make more in a week than any NWSL player makes in an entire season. Players such as Weston McKinnie, Matt Miazga, Tyler Boyd, Zack Steffen, and Tim Ream also ply their respective trades in Europe’s top leagues while regularly representing the USMNT without restriction.
Career pursuits aren’t the only freedom the USWNT lack. Freedom of expression is a luxury the female Yanks simply aren’t afforded.
Rapinoe has been vilified for her protests and her outspokenness regarding equal rights in our country. Hope Solo faced the same criticisms when she was an active member of the national team. Earlier this month, Alex Morgan was torn to shreds for feigning a sip of tea while celebrating the game-winning goal in the USWNT’s 2–1 semifinal victory over England.
Now, just for a second, imagine the roles reversed. The USMNT just lifted the World Cup after dunking on the world’s best competition. Pulisic threw up his pinky finger after scoring a game-winner. Michael Bradley was speaking his mind before and after the world’s most prestigious tournament.
The reaction would not be the same. There would be little, if any, outrage. Because these women outshine the men in the world’s most popular sport, there is an abundance of criticism and a dearth of celebration.
This imbalanced treatment is unacceptable. We should be celebrating the USWNT like the greatest dynasty in American sports because that is precisely what they are. We should be paying the USWNT just as much as we pay the men. And we should be allowing our brightest players to shine at Groupama Training Center, the Stade Jean-Bouin, Kingsmeadow and Academy Stadium, to make as much at the club level as their talent dictates without prohibiting them from the USWNT roster.
If you’re one of those who have levied criticism at Megan Rapinoe, or Alex Morgan, or any other member of the best soccer team on the planet; if you’re in any way opposed to paying the American women as much as their male counterparts; if strong-minded and confident women make you lash out with unsubstantiated criticism, go ahead and keep doing you.
History, and the historic women who represent the United States of America, will leave you in the wake of change.