In 223 days, the 2015 Women’s World Cup kickoffs in Canada and the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) will be a part of it. For the past week and a half the team has been competing in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament which allows three teams from the CONCACAF region to qualify for the World Cup. With a win against Mexico last night the USWNT became one of the three. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the match in Philadelphia where the U.S. put up a 3-0 victory to secure their spot. The win also guaranteed them a spot in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament championship match on Sunday at 6 p.m.
When I was growing up, I never would have guessed that I would become a soccer fan. In fact I remember thinking and saying to myself at one point several years ago while flipping TV channels and landing on a soccer game that I would never attend a pro soccer match or ever be interested in a game. Now, here I am, a day after attending a soccer game. Things change. I guess the only thing to point out is that the game I attended was a women’s soccer match but that game on TV was all men. I’m sure there’s a difference between men’s and women’s soccer but I don’t watch the guys so I wouldn’t know (aside from some of the World Cup this past summer). I love watching the women play though, but especially this group pulled from all areas of the United States.
Thanks to the internet, social media, Youtube and other technology I was able to learn a lot about the players on the USWNT. I don’t just mean facts about them either. In this technological age you really get a feel for what kind of a person someone is by what they say on social media, how they act, or what their interests/opinions are. It’s super incredible. At the same time though, it’s only half the story. Someone could be entirely different from how you expect them to be. Even if that is the case, I would still have to argue that we’re better off finding out more about people than we were before all this technology happened, especially with social media. U.S. Soccer has done a great job with their youtube channel to introduce/interview players and show their personalities through special videos that don’t just show highlights from the last match (although they have those too). Because of the youtube videos, instagram, twitter, tumblr, and other internet sources, I really fell in love with this team of individual athletes since I first started to pay attention to them in July 2011. There’s nothing I want more for them than to win the World Cup next year.
It’s evident that they want it too. The United States hasn’t won the World Cup since 1999 which made players like Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, and Julie Foudy household names. The route to the final in 2011 put this current group of players in the eye of the sports world, but they fell short. Next year a large majority of those same players will be playing in front of the world trying to achieve what all but one have yet to accomplish, winning a World Cup (Christie Rampone was the only current US player on that 1999 squad). Ever since the loss to Japan on penalties in 2011, these women have been training to make it back to the World Cup final and come out victorious. At this point though the 2015 Women’s World Cup may be the last for many players on the squad. This amazing group might not look a lot like they do now in 2019. Abby Wambach has spoke of retirement. Christie Rampone plans to retire after the tournament (she’ll be 40 when it’s over). Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, and Ali Krieger are already in their 30’s. Becky Sauerbrunn and Heather O’Reilly will be 30 before the World Cup begins June 6th. Megan Rapinoe turns 30 the day the final is scheduled to be played. Lauren Holiday, Kelley O’Hara, Amy Rodriguez, and Tobin Heath will also be in their 30’s by the time the next world cup comes around. All the players mentioned above were with the team in 2011. That’s a large chunk. With age, health and fitness issues can come into play. Not only that but players may even want to start families and pursue other opportunities. So for me, for other fans, and for this team, the time is now. It’s win the World Cup or bust.
Of course who knows, maybe in 2019 a lot of those players will be around, but I just have this feeling like that won’t be the case. They know 2015 is the year. They’ve been ranked as #1 in the world for quite awhile and the 2015 Women’s World Cup is the time to prove it. So last night when the final whistle blew, I could feel the good vibes flowing from the field, but it was only for momentary celebration. They made it. They’re going to Canada. They qualified, but there’s no way they’ll be satisfied until the World Cup trophy is in their grasp and gold medals hang from their necks.
(As a side note, if you didn’t pick it up by reading this, the USWNT plays in the championship of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET. It’ll be on Fox Sports 1 if you’re interested in watching. I promise they’re fun to watch.)