United States Women's National Team Profile
|Major Honours||Women's World Cup (4), Olympic gold medal (4), CONCACAF Championship and Gold Cup (8), Algarve Cup (10), SheBelieves Cup (4)|
The United States National Women’s Football Team (USWNT) are the most successful women’s soccer team in the world, having won the FIFA World Cup a record four times.
The USWNT have also won eight CONCACAF Championships and four Olympic gold medals.
The USWNT have been involved in a dispute with the USSF (United States Soccer Federation) for some time over equal pay. They have claimed that they have been discriminated against on the basis of gender with regards to their incomes.
The team's formation and early years
Following the passing of Title IX in 1972, gender discrimination in federally funded programmes was illegal. College soccer thus grew in the USA while women's soccer was becoming a major sport internationally.
Irish coach Mike Ryan was tasked with picking a team of college players to compete in the Mundialito tournament in Italy in 1985. The USA played their first international women's match against Italy on 18 August, losing 1-0 despite impressing the crowd. After failing to beat Denmark and England, the USA finished the tournament in fourth place.
Anson Dorrance subsequently took over as coach and led the USA to second place in the following year's Mundialito tournament and the quarter-finals of the 1988 FIFA Women's Invitational tournament in China, where they lost to eventual winners Norway.
After winning the first CONCACAF Women's Championship, Dorrance's USA qualified for the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup, which took place in 1991.
World Cup success in the 1990s
The USA won the first ever Women's World cup in 1991 under the guidance of Dorrance. They beat Sweden, Brazil and Japan to top their group and earn a quarter-final berth before thrashing Chinese Taipei 7-0.
After beating Germany 5-2 in the semi-finals thanks to a Carin Jennings hat-trick, they beat Norway 2-1 in the final in Guangzhou. Michelle Akers-Stahl scored both of the USA's goals and finished as top scorer for the tournament.
Tony DiCicco took over as head coach in 1994 and led the USA to victory in the CONCACAF Championship that year. After a 1-0 defeat to Norway in the semi-finals of the 1995 World Cup, the USWNT beat China 2-0 in the third-place play-off.
However, the USWNT won gold at the inaugural women's soccer tournament at the 1996 Olympics, beating China in the final. They beat the same opponents in the final of the 1999 World Cup, reclaiming their title and playing a role in sparking widespread interest in women's sport in the USA.
USWNT and the 2000s
In the 2003 Women's World Cup, the USWNT lost 3-0 to Germany in the semi-finals. This was at the beginning of an era in which Germany would temporarily usurp them as the dominant force in women's football. The USA beat Canada 3-1 to claim third place at the tournament.
The USWNT won gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens with Abby Wambach's extra-time goal giving them a 2-1 win over Brazil in the final. This was the last major international tournament in which Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy played for the USWNT.
In 2007, the USA once again lost in the semi-finals of the Women's World Cup. Their 4-0 defeat to Brazil was the largest in the USWNT's history and remains so to date. Once again, the USA recovered to claim third place in the tournament, beating Norway in the play-off.
The USA fared better at the 2011 World Cup, reaching the final after wins over Brazil and France, but lost on penalties to Japan in the final. Goalkeeper Hope Solo starred in the tournament, as did Wambach.
The Jill Ellis era
Jill Ellis, who served as USWNT interim coach in 2012, took over on a full-time basis in 2014. Ellis had been a part of the USWNT coaching set-up for years, having led the team's various age group teams on several occasions since the turn of the 21st Century, as well as serving as the first team's assistant manager. She was assistant as the team won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
One of Ellis' first major tasks as manager was leading the team at the 2015 World Cup. After seamless progression throughout the tournament, the USA beat Japan 5-2 in the final - with Carli Lloyd scoring the fastest hat-trick from kick-off in the history of the World Cup, as she netted three times in 16 minutes to put the game out of Japan's reach.
Ellis led the USWNT to another victory in the 2019 World Cup as they beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the final. Alongside her two World Cup winners' medals, Ellis also won the 2015 and 2019 FIFA Women's Coach of the Year award for her successes with the USWNT.
After their 2019 World Cup victory, Ellis subsequently stepped down as head coach and was replaced by Vlatko Andonovski.
The long-running equal pay dispute
In April 2016, five US Women's National Team players - Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Becky Sauerbrunn - filed against the United States Soccer Federation for wage discrimination in the United States District Court in Los Angeles. A new collective bargaining agreement was reached between the USWNT and the USSF the following year.
In 2019, the entire 28-woman squad filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the USSF.
According to the lawsuit, wages were not the only subject of discontent. They also claimed that their playing, training, and travel conditions were worse than that of the US Men's National Team (USMNT).
Federal Judge R. Gary Klausner rejected key parts of the claim, pointing out that the USWNT had agreed to higher base compensation, waiving bonuses in exchange. He also rejected claims of unequal working conditions in relation to the number of turf and real grass pitches. Other aspects of the lawsuit were allowed to move forward to trial.
Canada are the USWNT's main rival, as the teams are in the same confederation and are both traditionally among the strongest women's soccer teams in the world.
England have also forged a strong rivalry with the USWNT, with the two teams regularly going head-to-head for major honours. For example, the teams recently met in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, with Christen Press and Alex Morgan's goals sending the USA to the final despite Ellen White's goal for Phil Neville's Lionesses.
USWNT's substantial fanbase
At the USWNT's first ever match, against Italy, the Italian crowd took a liking to the USWNT and started chanting for them. However, they mispronounced the USA as "oosa."
In return, the USWNT adopted this chant as their own. They now huddle together and chant "Oosa Oosa Oosa Ah!" as a reminder of where the team started.
The USWNT is widely supported. In 2019, the USWNT had an average attendance of 25,122, while the men's team averaged 23,306.