5 Reasons to Watch the U.S. Women's Soccer Team
While recently attending a U.S. women's soccer game against Russia in Atlanta, I noticed that parking was much too easy and the stands were far too empty. The explanation, of course, is that not nearly enough people bought tickets.
The fans in the surrounding area that didn't attend had the reasonable excuse that the ice storm kept them at home. However, the fans in the next city won't have the same excuse and the fans at home have no excuse at all.
I've compiled a short list of what people are missing out on when they don't watch this team play on T.V. or in person.
Starting with their impressive winning record and athletic feats from the likes of Abby Wambach and Hope Solo, here's why these women won't be a waste of your time.
All stats courtesy of ussoccer.com.
Everyone Loves a Winner
We've all been there. Your favorite team has an offseason that leaves you convinced that they are the best in the league. Then, if the regular season doesn't disappoint, your team crashes and burns in the playoffs. You're left reviewing their plays over and over in your mind and convinced it was the coach or referee or, without admitting it to anyone else, your favorite player blew it.
The USWNT does not disappoint. They rarely lose and, if they do, it's always an exciting fight to the finish. One player having a bad day doesn't force everyone around them to crumble. How nice would it be if that's how it was with all of your favorite teams?
In 2013, this team won 13 of 16 games. The three games they didn't win were ties. Not a single loss to rip your heart out and ruin your day.
They have been either first, second or third in each world cup since 1991. They have won either gold or silver in every Olympics since 1996, the first year women's soccer was added to the games.
Take a look at the video to have an idea of how they win these games, but, keep in mind, they aren't only impressive on offense.
They're Fun to Watch
Starting in the back with Hope Solo, moving a little farther up the field to Megan Rapinoe and topping it off with Abby Wambach's head, there is no shortage of talent.
Solo snags shots that leave spectators wondering how she could possibly know where the ball was going to go. She's able to stop penalty kicks, breakaways and unexpected shots. Solo appears fearless in the net as she dives at players' feet and slides toward the metal posts, anything to minimize the probability of a goal.
Rapinoe is just one of several midfielders who surprises fans with her power on offense and defense. Although many people have heard of Wambach and Alex Morgan before even watching a game, far fewer have heard of Rapinoe since she's not a fan of the attention. She doesn't seek advertisers or media attention.
Check out a few highlights on the video at the top and see for yourself why she deserves more attention than she'd like to receive.
Abby Wambach should be a given on this slide. Her head comes out of nowhere during corner kicks and crosses. She is able to connect to balls that are far out the of reach of any of the players around her. She dominates the opponents who have the unfortunate assignment of trying to stop her.
Wambach and Morgan are a dynamic duo on the top third of the field. They are well-rounded forwards who know exactly how to play the ball off of one another. They always seem aware of where their partner is on the field without even having to look.
The list of players who make their game fun to watch doesn't stop here. Each player brings a different style of play which all seamlessly mesh together. From one goal line to the other, you never know who will have the next game-changing play.
They Are Just as Fun off the Field
It might be easier to fall in love with the team off the field before following the team during their games if you aren't familiar with them at all.
Their smiles are contagious, they all have entertaining interviews and watching them have fun with each other makes you feel like you're part of the crew. Many of the women on the team are active on twitter and will tweet to the fans about one another, making fans really feel like they're in on a special joke.
For example, Heather O'Reilly played a game on Twitter for a period of time to get fans guessing who her roommate was on a road trip. She would attach a picture of her roommate without their face being shown and ask who the fans thought the player was. Not only are the pictures amusing considering they are typically just a candid moment but they also stimulate fan interaction.
The Studio 90 Extra Time segments hosted by ussoccer.com always leave the players in the interview, the interviewer and fans, with a normal sense of humor, laughing with one another. These women know how to have fun and like to share their enthusiasm with fans. In a moment that the players recorded of themselves goofing around, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux released a Vine of a few players mocking a 'Prancercising' YouTube video.
These are just the moments captured on film. There's no telling the sort of shenanigans this team is capable of getting into.
Positive Attention Is Their Only Attention
The U.S. women are a team we should be proud to rally behind. They stand for many of the ideals that our country tries to instill in the youth of the country: hard work, confidence, following dreams, and making a difference by doing what you enjoy.
There are too many professional athletes in our country that carry themselves as individuals who are better than the rest of society. Doping, lying, DUIs and even killing people. It's time to take a step back from all of the negativity that takes place off the field and let the USWNT be our breath of fresh air. They aren't involved in the debate of whether or not a player can be a role model on the field if they have questionable habits off the field.
These women are aware that young girls and boys try to emulate what they are doing. Faking injuries is much less common in the world of women's soccer than it is in the men's. The women still have something to prove to the world. They belong and they are tough enough without anyone making excuses for them.
How often do some fans flip to the sports section to see that yet another player on their team has been arrested and that it will have an impact on the next game? It never gets less frustrating. All the players have to do off the field is not have a run in with the cops. How hard could it possibly be? From how often some of these players get arrested, it would make you believe they actually enjoy the handcuffs as jewelry.
You won't face that frustration with this team. Other than Hope Solo who sticks out as the player who is a little rougher around the edges and unapologetic for her attitude, these players are only in the media for positive things.
It actually makes you look forward to their name appearing in the papers; it won't be a controversial issue to annoy you before you run off to work to make less in a lifetime than many athletes make in a season.
They are an inspiring group of players who are all trying to push women's sports to the forefront of society's mind. They want equal expectations and opportunities for young girls and women in sports. Unlike the players behind bars, the only fight they're involved in is the one representing the child they were at one point in time.
Take a look at the video and listen to Wambach's inspiring answers in an interview with Robin Roberts.
The Success Will Continue
When Abby Wambach beat Mia Hamm's record for international career goals last June, Hamm was supportive and proud. She told Sports Illustrated of Wambach's accomplishment, "From being her teammate early in her career, I know all she ever wanted to do was win, and she continues to do that. I'm just glad I got to share 158 with her. It was short, but it was fun."
Before the 2012 Olympic Games, Wambach told Robin Roberts, "I learned [from Mia Hamm] the way she dealt with the press, the endorsements, that it was always about the team. Because no 'I' or individual is better than a team."
This quote embodies the ideals of the USWNT. They aim for success for the best interest of the team and the sport. You'll be hard pressed to find a player on this team who doesn't feel as though they have been given an honor to try to promote the sport in the country. As long as this ideal continues through the generations, the work ethic will continue to be top of the line, the passion will be there and the players will continue pushing one another in practice and games. It's about more than themselves.
Beyond the ideals, energy and focus of the team, they will also continue their reign of success because of the talent that continues to make the team. Sticking with Wambach and Hamm, each generation is surpassing the one before it. Morgan could very possibly break each of Wambach's records as she continues.
Briana Scurry was once told she was the greatest goal keeper in the sport. That title now arguably belongs to Solo. Each generation is building on the foundation of the team before it and improving as much as they are able to. They encourage one another to beat their records. There isn't a sense of bitterness or jealousy when records are broken.
There is a collective sense of pride to all be part of the same team, whether now or in the past. The future of the team has the privilege to learn from talented, passionate players and continue the tradition of excellence on their own.
On April 6th the USWNT will be playing China in Commerce City, Colorado. Tune in to cheer on yet another winning season.