News / USA

US Women's Soccer Team Aims for World Cup Gold

The United States' Alex Morgan (C) shoots to score their third goal against Iceland during the women's soccer Algarve Cup final match at the Algarve stadium outside Faro, Portugal, March 9, 2011 (file photo)
The United States' Alex Morgan (C) shoots to score their third goal against Iceland during the women's soccer Algarve Cup final match at the Algarve stadium outside Faro, Portugal, March 9, 2011 (file photo)
Tala Hadavi

The 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team captivated nearly the entire nation when it won the third FIFA World Cup in front of 90,000 fans at the Rose Bowl in California. But in both 2003 and 2007, the Americans finished third in the World Cup while watching Germany take the titles.  

The U.S. won the 2008 Olympic gold medal, however, and is ranked number one as it aims to recapture the World Cup that begins later this month in Germany.

The anticipation for the women’s World Cup soccer is larger than ever. But it has not always been that way. U.S. national team head coach Pia Sundhage remembers it differently growing up in Sweden in the 1960s.

“I played with boys," she said. "They actually changed my name to Pelle because I wasn’t allowed to play.”



The first FIFA Women’s World Cup took place in 1991, 61 years after the first men’s tournament. During the famous Mia Hamm era, the U.S. national team won both in 1991 and 1999. The 1999 tournament, played in the United States, set new records for attendance, media coverage, TV audiences and live broadcasts.

Hamm scored a total of 158 international goals in her career, more than any other player, male or female, in the history of the sport.

“I hope our participation has helped," said Hamm. "It's something that as players, I think we took a great deal, amount of responsibility in making sure that future generations, both domestically and internationally, had opportunities that maybe we didn’t have.”   

This year’s national team boasts only one player from the 1999 team. Christie Rampone, the team captain, was then only 24 years old. Today she is a mother of two and about to play in her fourth World Cup.

“The ‘fab five’ was definitely the pioneers of soccer with Mia and Julie [Foudy] and Kristine Lilly and Joy [Fawcett] and Carla [Overbeck]," said Rampone. "You know it was just amazing to play with them and be a part of that 1999 team and experience that, and now it’s trying to lead on to the next generation in helping support them in getting that title and getting the title back.”

To get that title back, the team has trained together nearly non-stop for the past six months. The Americans are ranked number one, but they put their World Cup goals in jeopardy after losing to Mexico last year. They had to win a two-game qualifying playoff against Italy to get the 16th and final spot. Sundhage thinks the bumpy road to the tournament was a team-builder.  

"We were nervous but we came out stronger after those two games and we actually lost two games against Sweden and England this year," she said. "But I think that’s a good thing. I will look at it as a teaching moment and stay humble. It’s a reminder of what you need in order to be successful. This team is just phenomenal when it comes to attitude.”

The team spent an entire week in New Jersey preparing for a "friendly" game against Mexico. The Americans dominated the game, but missed one scoring chance after another - 34 to be exact. In the 92nd minute, substitute Lauren Cheney scored a long-range goal after launching a 25-meter blast. Rampone said getting the win was significant.

“We’ve been working so hard, and especially the way we played Mexico in the last game, and coming out and playing well today, the last game leading to the World Cup," Rampone said. "I think it’s just going to give us that momentum heading to Germany with some confidence.”

The sixth edition of the Women’s World Cup will be hosted by two-time World Cup champion Germany. Half a million tickets already have been sold and all 32 games will be televised live in the United States.

“When I first started in 1999, the crowds were big," said Rampone."The fans were filling the seats. So now it’s exciting for these younger kids and the girls that didn’t experience to come to a major tournament and really appreciate and deserve what they work for. I think we’re ready for this tournament. It will be nice that the stands will be packed and the adrenaline will be going.”  

The U.S. team flies to Austria on June 14 for training and a final friendly warm-up match against Norway. The American women open their World Cup campaign against North Korea in Dresden, Germany, on June 28, and also play first-round games against Colombia and Sweden.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs