July 25, 2015 Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports) By: Dalton Pence
Recap of The USWNT Run to Gold: The Legacy and the Future
After the stunning loss to Japan in penalty kicks of the 2011 FIFA Womens’ World Cup Final, the United States Womens National Team has been waiting for the opportunity to take what they believe was rightfully theirs. With victories over Australia and Nigeria and a tie with Sweden, the USWNT won their group of the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada. With early defeats of Colombia and China, the U.S. faced an extreme task in the semifinals: beat the top ranked, goal-scoring frenzy Germans. Quality performances from captain Carli Lloyd, Julie Johnston, Morgan Brian, and others helped the States score two goals late in the game to defeat Germany. The rematch was set. Japan and the U.S. met again to decide the championship. After scoring a staggering four goals in sixteen minutes, the Americans had very little trouble defeating the Japanese 5-2 to win the cup. Captain Carli Lloyd had a hat trick and was named to Co-Golden Boot while Hope Solo was congratulated with the Golden Glove award.
This year’s World Cup championship victory marks the third for the USWNT, joining 1991 and 1999. The recent success of the 2011 and 2015 squads have led to an increasing popularity of women’s’ soccer in America. Whether it’s the loss in PKs to Japan in 2011 or the electric 4 goals in 16 minutes by the US in the 2015 World Cup final, the American population has shown rising support to the superior women’s soccer team. Women’s soccer has grown in America for over the past three decades and will only continue to rapidly become more popular in the future.
What’s next for the USWNT after winning the World Cup?
First off, the prestigious Shannon Boxx-Abby Wambach-Christine Rampone era is coming to an end…well not yet. Both Wambach (35) and Rampone (40) have not ruled out the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, while Boxx plans to retire after the end of the NWSL (National Women’s Soccer League) season. Lauren Holiday, the 27-year-old midfielder, also has decided to retire from the international team after 8 years with the team.
Star goalkeeper Hope Solo is expected to be available for the next world cup. As for the defense, starters Ali Krieger and Becky Sauerbrunn are 30 years old. Their status for the next world cup could be in question, but with other starters Meghan Khlingenburg (26) and Julie Johnston (23) along with subs Kelley O’Hara (26) and Whitney Engen (27) expected to return to the next world tournament in 4 years, the USWNT will again be very strong (especially if Krieger and Sauerbrunn return).
In the midfield, Boxx and Holiday are set to retire while captain Carii Lloyd is 33. Lloyd’s status on the next world cup is up in the air. Key starter Megan Rapinoe and veteran Heather O’Reilly are both at the age of 30 and their status will be more clear as 2019 approaches. However, there is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel. Morgan Brian (22) and Tobin Heath (27) both had tremendous world cup performances throughout the tournament and are expected to be back as the USWNT try to defend their title in France in 2019.
Now on to the attack. Wambach could be back for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but the world cup in 2019 is highly questionable. On the other hand, the American squad has four world cup players under the age of 30: Amy Rodriguez (28), Alex Morgan (26), Sydney Leroux (25), and Christen Press (26).It is not hard to see that the United States will be a top contender in 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup due to returning experience along with the influx of new talent.
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