I was 21 years old and fresh off my final season as a soccer player when I got to see the U.S. Women’s National Team take home the gold at the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Those are 90 minutes I will never forget. It’s all about the moments, right? Those are the things we actually remember. Players like Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers dominated on the world’s stage. The image of Brandi Chastain ripping off her shirt after scoring the winning PK in a shootout will forever be engraved in my memory. There is no question that a lasting impression was made on me. Who do you think my daughter Mia is named after?
So, unless you have been in a medically-induced coma for the last month, you already know that the U.S. took home the gold… again. This most recent tournament makes the U.S. women four-time World Cup Champions and the only team in World Cup history to win back-to-back. These women aren’t just supreme athletes, they are artists and soccer is their masterpiece. Twenty-three women make up the USWNT and, although each and every one of them brought their own lethal flare to the pitch, they played every game as one. An unstoppable force that no one could reckon with. This team is the future of women in sports and that future is now.
You better believe I’m going to write about these badasses. That’s what we are all about here at The Sister Project…strong and inspiring women making an impact every step they take.
My coach always told me that size doesn’t matter. Crystal Dunne is living proof of that statement. Standing tall at 5’1, the USWNT left midfielder dominated this World Cup. Her laser-focus, grit and relentless defense was the reason why the U.S. beat Spain. Crystal’s journey had some rough patches, like when she didn’t make the final cut for the last World Cup. Clearly, that didn’t stop her. Her appearance on the world’s stage was proof that you can do whatever and be whomever you put your mind to if you never give up.
There was plenty of doubt and concern around the goal-tending ability of Alyssa Naeher. She came in to fill the shoes of Hope Solo–arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world. Pregame critics spoke of Naeher as the weakest link but, although she went untested in the early part of the tournament, she showed the world she was exactly where she was supposed to be. A highlight for her was the blocked PK from England that would have tied the game. Hope Solo said it best.
“Goalkeepers don’t win games, they save them.”
When US Head Coach Jill Ellis submitted the starting lineup in the semi-final against England and Megan Rapinoe wasn’t on the roster, the world sat in disbelief. Christine Press started in Rapinoe’s place and scored the first goal of the game. Don’t ever underestimate the depth of the women’s bench. The talent pool is hefty and runs 23 deep.
Tea anyone? OBSESSED. From Rapinoe’s Gladiator pose, “Do I not entertain you?” to Carli Lloyd’s golf clap, I could not wait for the next goal to be scored. I will watch strong women sip tea, pinkies raised, any day of the week. Just when you think their goals couldn’t be any better, they use their platform to entertain. Simply the best.
OMG this kid has mad skills folks. Like, some of the best footwork I have ever seen. In case you didn’t, Rose Lavelle owned every player she took on. From nutmegs (when you pass the ball through your opponent’s legs and leave them embarrassed) to midfield-breakaways with heart-stopping jukes and rockets for shots. Rose Lavelle is the rising star of this team. Future opponents, be afraid. Be very afraid.
What you have right here is one of US’s three world-class goalkeepers. She didn’t make an appearance on the field this world cup but her IG stories have been some of the most entertaining of the gals on the team. She is beautiful, funny, and unapologetically and authentically herself. Follow her at @ashlynharris24 for a more intimate and hilarious look at what life is like in a world champion’s world. Looks pretty cool if you ask me.
There you have it folks. Twenty-three women. One nation. One team. World Champions. They are fighting for equal pay. I think they have surpassed equality. Follow them. Support them. Buy a ticket to your town’s pro team. Show them some love. LFG!