With the World Cup less than a month away, it’s more important than ever that fans of the sport tune in to support their teams. Not only is women’s soccer an incredibly positive influence for young girls around the world, but it’s one that doesn’t have a long history of competative games, unlike men’s soccer.
On June 6, 2015, the Women’s World Cup will begin in Canada. Previously in 2011, The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) came in second after a memorable loss to Japan. Although they won the gold in the 2012 summer Olympics, it’s time for them to reclaim their honor and win it all.
Here are six reasons to watch the 2015 Women’s World Cup:
1. This is not your women’s team from 1999
Christen Press, Alex Morgan, and Sydney Leroux are just some of the newer players, meaning not from the ‘99ers generation. Lead by Morgan, who has already scored 50 career international goals since joining the team in 2010, these women are not to be dismissed. Morgan’s style is different from the ‘99ers. The team is fresh, but still has that talent that we have grown to love. Although some of the women who make up the USWNT roster are not new to the World Cup, some of them are. The USWNT is stronger than ever. New players means new role models for soccer/football players around the world. With only Christie Rampone left from the ‘99ers, these women are taking hold of the reigns and have a really great chance of steering the team towards a world cup victory.
2. They are part of One Nation. One Team. [with] 23 Stories
Each player recently recorded a special video about their life and their path to the World Cup. If you don’t know the USWNT, check out these videos. They make this event more personal. Learning about this team produces a sense of nationalism while watching the game. Discover how Ashlyn Harris smacked somebody in the face with a fish, how Megan Rapinoe can imitate Heather O’Reilly’s game face, and how Morgan Brian’s favorite show is still Spongebob. There’s 23 stories and they’re all unique.
The last time these women came home from a major win, their league folded while they were away. Although they brought home the gold in the Olympics, they came back to nothing. They won and the next morning they were unemployed. Let’s not let that happen again in 2015.
3. This might be Abby Wambach’s last season
As of May 10, Abby Wambach scored 180 international goals. This is more than any soccer player, man or woman. At the age of 35, she isn’t exactly new to the field, which only benefits her team more and more every day. However, this might be her last time playing in a World Cup. If anything, watch her amazing talent and leadership throughout the games because it’s something that we have never seen before.
4. There is still incredible inequality in women’s sports (and that needs to change)
While the women are getting ready to play, they still have some obstacles to overcome while battling FIFA. During the men’s world cup, the players had a basecamp, or a home, so to speak. They were able to remain in one city while playing their games making it easier on them overall. However, after playing two matches in Winnipeg, the USWNT will relocate to Vancouver to finish out their final group match. That’s roughly a 1400 mile difference.
While they’re relocating all over Canada, the women will also be playing in brackets chosen by “sporting considerations.” While the men’s world cup groupings are chosen by random, the women’s has an altered grouping because FIFA added their man-made element.
And last, but certainly not least, these women are playing on turf. Now, I’m not sure how many of you have played on turf, but if you have, you probably have the scars — or maybe the emotional scars — from doing so. Turf is not fun. It’s fake grass, but when you fall on it, you don’t just get grass stains. You get turf burn, which is as fun as it sounds. Say goodbye to your legs for a while, because that space between your shin guards and your shorts are probably going to get some memorable cuts.
There’s a danger beyond turf burn when playing on artificial grass. The American Academy of Neurology has said that the risk of a concussion is higher when playing on turf. Notable soccer players, such as USWNT’ Abby Wambach and Brazil’s Marta Vieira da Silva, tried to fight organizers for this very reason, but they didn’t get far. The case didn’t pick up the speed that it needed to.
Why are they playing on turf? Well, according to the tournament organizers, they have no choice. It’s technically not against FIFA rules, although, there has never been a world cup played on turf before, men’s or women’s.
5. The US is in the “Group of Death”
The USWNT is in a group with Australia, Sweden, and Nigeria. Although the USWNT has played Sweden three consecutive times prior to the 2015 World Cup, this will be the first time that they are playing against Pia Sundhage, their previous coach. Sundhage coached the USWNT from 2008 – 2012 and is now coaching Sweden. Paired with Nigeria, this is being called the “group of death.” Now, it wasn’t exactly a random group of death, as mentioned above, however, it’s going to be interesting. It adds some spark to what will already be some intense games.
6. Hope Solo is back
I’m not digging up her past, but Hope Solo is back after a thirty day suspension. Arguably one of the best goalkeepers in the world, she is going to be key to keeping the USWNT in check. Although there are amazingly talented people on this field already, it’s always comforting to know that there’s a strong goalie in the net. When Solo isn’t playing, Ashlyn Harris will take over. Although they have a strong team, the USWNT has strength in their goalies.
Each of these women, not just on the USWNT, but every team, has worked harder than ever to secure their place in the World Cup. They are defying odds that are out of their control and showing everyone that they deserve to play this sport. If you have a chance, check out some of their games throughout the duration of the World Cup. They are talented and professional soccer players who will not disappoint.