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)
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid