The US Women’s National Soccer Team just won the Women’s World Cup in an exciting final against Japan, but how much do you really know about the 23-woman squad? Here are 20 things you might not know about our World Champions.
1. It’s All About Those Stars – In soccer it’s tradition for your jersey to have the crest of your team on the left side of your chest over your heart. The number of stars that surround your crest represent the number of championships your team has won. After this 2015 World Cup win every US Women’s jersey that comes out will have three stars over the US crest – one for each Women’s World Cup we’ve won – 1991, 1999 and now 2015.
2. This Year Was A Rematch – Yes, we actually faced Japan in the finals in 2011 at the last World Cup in Germany. It was the first time we reached the World Cup final in 12 years, but unfortunately…
3. We Choked – It was looking like a historic win back in 2011 when we started against Japan 1-0. Unfortunately they equalized in the dying minutes of the match. We went ahead 2-1 in extra time but again let Japan sneak another goal by us. It came down to a shoot out, but Japan won on penalty kicks 3-1. Our USWNT has carried around the sting of that loss for four years and finally got their revenge this time around.
4. They’ve Been Haunted By The 99ers. – The “99ers” is a term used to refer to the 1999 US Women’s Soccer Team, the group that last won the Women’s World Cup in a dramatic shoot out (see: Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain in a sports bra.) Since then, every US Women’s Soccer Team has been compared to those historic women. While the current squad certainly respects them, they had also started to become haunted by their legacy as over the years they failed to capture their own World Cup. Now both teams can finally exhale and enjoy their victories.
5. Team Elder, Christie Rampone – At 40 years old Rampone is the oldest member of the USWNT and the only remaining player from the class of 99. Yep, that means Rampone can boast two World Cup victories. For Christie age is definitely just a number as she continues to play at the highest level and apparently remains one of the fastest players on the team.
6. This Is Not Carli Lloyd’s First Rodeo – Yep, at 32 years old Carli Lloyd has been a member of the USWNT for years. If you thought her lightning hat trick at the beginning of the match was a fluke, guess again. Lloyd has been responsible for key goals that resulted in not one but two Olympic gold medals for our women.
7. Abby Wambach Is A US Soccer Legend – Wondering why they subbed in Abby Wambach near the end of the game? Out of respect. Wambach has been a major leader for the USWNT for years. As a member of the team since 2001, Wambach has netted and incredible 183 goals in 249 appearances. This will probably be 35-year-old Wambach’s final major tournament with the team and she can boast 2 Olympic gold medals, 1 World Cup and being named the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year.
8. The Importance Of That Blue Arm Band – Did you notice Carli Lloyd wearing a blue band around her arm? That’s the captain’s arm band – it’s worn by the captain of your team while they’re on the field. The captain can play any position, they just hold a special role on the squad. When Abby Wambach was subbed onto the field, however – Lloyd ran over and gave the band to Wambach out of respect to her role on the team over the years. At the end of the match Wambach paid the gesture forward and handed it over to team elder, Christie Rampone to keep.
9. Head Coach Jill Ellis Is English – Yep, she may represent the USA on the field but off the field Coach Ellis hails from the motherland. There’s no requirement for a coach to be from your home country when it comes to international soccer – it’s all about your talent and experience. When it comes to experience Ellis has plenty of it – she’s coached at US universities and as a part of the US Soccer since 1988.
10. Tobin Heath Is Homeless – 29-year-old midfielder Tobin Heath is literally homeless. Her life as a member of the USWNT means that she’s constantly traveling, so instead of paying rent or a mortgage somewhere she couch surfs her way around the world with friends and visits new destinations. When it’s time to show up somewhere for work, she shows up. Simple as that!
11. Two Teammates Are Married To Teammates – Did we confuse you? USWNT teammates Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux are both recently married…to teammates! Both of their husbands, Servando Carrasco and Dom Dwyer, are members of the MLS team Sporting Kansas City.
12. Hope Solo? Yes, You Know Her From… – Lots of stuff. The incredibly talented goal keeper has had lots of media coverage – some positive, some negative. Hope had an incredible number of endorsements for her talents between the posts and it lead to an appearance on a season of Dancing With The Stars. In 2014 Hope hit some trouble, being charged with two counts of domestic violence. While she was cleared of the charges her reputation and endorsements hit the skids.
13. Get To Know The Department Of Defense – That’s the nickname for our back line – or, the four defenders who try to keep the other team from getting to our goal. Ali Krieger, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg and Julie Johnston are essentially a brick wall and allowed just 3 goals through 7 games of the World Cup.
14. This Win Was An Emotional Triumph For Ali Krieger – The defender has been through serious highs and lows during her career with the USWNT. In 2012 she went down with an ACL and MCL tear that caused her to miss out on the Olympic squad. The star went into serious rehab after her surgery and eventually came back stronger than ever. No greater evidence of her comeback was winning the World Cup on Sunday night on the exact same field where she had her injury three years earlier.
15. No, Carli Lloyd’s Fiance Was NOT IN Attendance – While most players have a handful of friends and family members around them at all time, Carli Lloyd has a different approach. Her family and fiance never get an invite to watch her play. It’s all business when she’s on the field and Lloyd wants to be distraction free before, during and after her matches.
16. Seeing Double? That’s Megan Rapinoe’s Twin – The hilarious ball of energy that is midfielder Megan Rapinoe has a twin sister named Rachael, who is also a soccer player. Rachel played for the USWNT’s U-23 squad and played professionally in Iceland. She has been known to help coach summer camps along with sister, Megan.
17. Keep Your Eye On Moe Brian – As the youngest member of the team at 22 years old, Morgan Brian was expected to get limited playing time during the World Cup. When Lauren Holiday was suspended for a game, however, it was Moe’s turn to step up – and step up she did. Suddenly the USWNT was scoring more goals, and that’s in big part because Brian was helping to move the ball up the field. Expect to see more of the star, especially now that Holiday has announced her retirement.
18. Where Can You Watch Your New Favorite Players? – If you fell in love with the heart, spirit and talent of our 23 USWNT members you’re in luck – almost every single one plays in the NWSL. That’s the National Women’s Soccer League and they have teams in 9 cities across the US. Get to know the teams and how to follow them here.
19. Get Ready For 2016 In Rio – Next up for the USWNT? The Summer Olympics in Rio next August. While a few members of the squad will be retiring you can expect a very similar lineup in the next year leading up to the Olympics. Seeing as we’ve won the gold medal for the past 3 Olympics in a row the expectations couldn’t be higher.
20. They Give A Whole New Meaning To ‘Play Like A Girl’ – An important lesson from this Women’s World Cup? When someone says you “play like a girl” remember that what they mean is that you can score a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the most important game in the world like Carli Lloyd, that you can come back from a crippling injury like Ali Krieger or that you can still be the fastest member of your team at 40 years old like Christie Rampone.