USWNT: In Defense of the US Women’s National Soccer Team


If you are a sports fan or have just been paying attention to current events, you have likely heard that the US Women’s National Soccer team (USWNT) was eliminated from the Women’s World Cup last weekend. After years of dominating the international women’s soccer scene and entering this tournament with high hopes of becoming 3-peat World Cup champions, this relatively early exit from the tournament surprised many. In the days since their loss, I have been shocked to find how quickly some are turning their backs on this group of women. From questioning their desire to attacking their character, many claims are being made. I’ve unfortunately allowed myself to be sucked down the dark rabbit hole of internet trolls, and now my blood is boiling. So, I write today to defend the US Women’s National Soccer Team.

I won’t do a deep dive into the actual soccer here. They didn’t look their best for most of the tournament. Still, if you were watching and understand anything about soccer, you would know they figured it out and actually looked quite good in their last game against Sweden (aside from, unfortunately, being unable to finish chances before PKs). Part of their performance throughout the tournament may have had to do with them. Part of it may have to do with the quality of women’s soccer throughout the world, which is a great thing.

This World Cup, the USWNT was chasing a goal of becoming the first 3-peat World Cup Champions. If they won, they would have become the first team (in both the men’s and women’s tournaments since the first Men’s World Cup in 1930) to win three times in a row. If you’ve ever played sports, you understand what kind of target that puts on your back. For every other team, you are their biggest challenge. For every team that met the USWNT, that game was their world cup. The game they had likely been dreaming of and planning for. It’s one of the tough and beautiful things about sports. On any given day, the team you don’t expect may come out on top. No one wins all the time, forever and ever. And if they did, it would eventually become quite dull.

One of the many things I cannot wrap my mind around in this post-World Cup loss attack on the US Women’s National Soccer Team is the questioning of their desire. I played soccer for much of my life and throughout college. I never reached a level near these women, but my soccer journey required a lot of sacrifices starting at a young age. I have memories from middle school where someone would ask me if I would be attending a gathering that weekend, and before I had a chance to respond, they would say, “Oh, I got soccer” – as they already knew what my weekend would entail. These women have spent much of their lives away from family and friends, dedicating themselves to pursuing soccer greatness. You do not make it to this level by pure talent alone. It requires work, sacrifice, and the highest level of commitment. They have spent years dreaming of being on this team and this world stage. They are fierce competitors. Of course, much of the US wanted them to become 3-peat World champions, but do you know who wanted it the most? – they did.

People have cited Megan Rapinoe’s laughter after missing her penalty kick as a sign that she clearly did not care. This was all a big joke to her. Turns out, this is actually something that can happen quite commonly in times of great stress and high emotion. This was Rapinoe’s final World Cup. Likely her final time playing with this team. Even if her desire was completely selfishly motivated (which I don’t believe it was), do you think she really wanted this to be her final contribution? – what everyone remembers? I think not.

For some, the argument attacking the desire of the US Women’s National Soccer team has to do with their “wokeness.” They are too busy in their pursuit of supporting different social justice issues that they don’t devote enough time to soccer. (Insert eye roll here…). As Ted Lasso fans know, “Football is life!!” – but also, it’s not. Soccer does not make up every moment of every day. I firmly believe that most people in this world cannot devote every second to a singular thing without eventually burning out. Life needs some balance. They spend much of their time playing and studying soccer, but (although it doesn’t always feel like it) there are a lot of hours in the day. There will always be the people who say, “Shut up and play,” but I believe if you have a platform to stand up for what you believe in, go for it.

There have been questions regarding the patriotism of the USWNT. Some people are cheering for their loss because they say these women hate their country. They did not all sing the national anthem or place their hand over their hearts, so clearly, they hate the US. Although I guess if you look it up, the most appropriate thing may be to place your hand over your heart, the last time I checked, standing with your arms behind your back is also a respectful way to stand. I have seen many athletes stand this way over the years without an attack on their patriotism. They didn’t turn their back to the flag or act disrespectfully. And I’m pretty sure singing is not a requirement. For some, I suppose patriotism means accepting your country for everything it is. For others, patriotism means wanting your country to be the best it can be. When they fight for equal pay, LGBTQ+ rights, acceptance, and mothers’ rights, they promote the causes they believe will make this country a better place. You may disagree with them, but we are all allowed our own thoughts and free speech in the United States.

Since their loss, the US Women’s National Soccer team has been called irrelevant. They have been called a disgrace. They have been called terrible role models. It’s interesting to think about how we have accepted the mediocrity of the US Men’s team for decades, but the USWNT loses one tournament, and everyone quickly turns their back.

I don’t know what kind of role models you want for your children, but for me, these women are the ultimate. They are women who dedicate themselves to a goal. They stand up for what they believe in. They show you that you can become a mother and still be a rock star at what you love. They play with class and dignity. If these are the kind of people my children look up to, that is more than fine by me.

So, to the USWNT, thank you for your heart and dedication. Thanks for being true to who you are. I will continue to be here supporting you, and I know you’ll be back.