Soccer has never been the most popular sport in the US, but it’s clearly time we pay some serious attention. The US Women’s soccer team is the best in the world right now, and they just won their second World Cup in a row. Compare that to the men’s team, who didn’t even qualify for the World Cup last year. Yikes. The USWNT is still fighting for equal pay despite being way better than their male counterparts, but these ladies are full-on superstars of their sport.
If you’re just now getting used to the idea that you should be paying attention to women’s soccer, that’s okay. There’s a lot to keep track of, so we’re breaking down some of the top players on the US women’s soccer team that you should be following. I couldn’t write about all 23 of the women on the World Cup team (even though they’re all badasses) because I do not have the finger strength, but here are seven you really need to know.
Without a doubt, Megan Rapinoe is the breakout star from this year’s World Cup. Basically everything she does is iconic, from her purple hair to saying that she’s “not going to the f*cking White House.” She’s played for the USWNT since 2006, and has co-captained the team since last year. She was the top scorer in the World Cup this year, winning multiple awards for her performance throughout the tournament. Rapinoe has been dating women’s basketball legend Sue Bird since 2016, and as a couple, they’re making history for LGBTQ people in the sports world.
Carli Lloyd is the second of three co-captains of the USWNT, and she’s been a top performer on the team since 2005. Carli has had an incredible career, but she might be calling it quits after the latest World Cup victory. In the past, she’s said her goal is to play in the Olympics next year, but she’s recently said that this might be it for her. Either way, she’ll go down in history for her many accomplishments, like scoring three goals in the 2015 World Cup Final.
Alex Morgan is the third c0-captain, and by far the most famous player on the USWNT. She was on the cover of TIME earlier this year, and also covered the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue along with Tyra Banks. Just this week she won the ESPY Award for Best Female Athlete, proving that she’s really on top of the world. Off the field, Alex Morgan writes a series of children’s books, which has also been turned into a series on Amazon Prime. And I barely have the time to go to my 9-to-5 and then the gym, but who’s counting!
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Thank you New York for an amazing few days celebrating our victory. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to play in the final not only once but twice now. Each journey to get there is special in its own way and it truly is an honor to wear this crest and represent the USA. Thank you to my teammates for pushing me and challenging me everyday. Thank you to my family for supporting my dream since day 1. Zach thank you just for everything, truly. And to my sisters in Christ, your words of encouragement and prayer kept me fueled. Those words kept the game in perspective and focused me on an audience of 1. World Champs 2x is an indescribable feeling. Blessed.
Julie Ertz has been a top player on the USWNT since 2013, and she She’s married to Zach Ertz, who plays for the Philadelphia Eagles, which is important because of a tweet that went viral last month. CBS News tweeted about Zach leaving Eagles training camp to watch Julie in the World Cup, but managed to completely f*ck up what was actually a really nice story.
US soccer midfielder Julie Ertz visited by husband, who also plays a sport https://t.co/0AG2IdUyv7
— ryan teague beckwith (@ryanbeckwith) June 17, 2019
This is a classic case of “man gets emphasized as more important despite his wife’s amazing accomplishments”, ugh. Sorry Zach, but Julie is way cooler.
Rose Lavelle is a major breakout player from this year’s World Cup, and her biggest achievement was scoring the second goal for the US in the final. This picture she posted on Sunday really says it all. Rose is only 24, which makes me feel very unaccomplished, and she’s become a top player since her debut with the USWNT in 2017. One of the best things on the internet this week was the video of an 11-year-old Rose doing tricks with a soccer ball. Watch it, you’ll thank me.
Christen Press has been killing it on the USWNT for years, and she’s now expanding into the lifestyle space with a couple of her teammates. Along with Megan Rapinoe, Meghan Klingenberg, and Tobin Heath, Press is the face of the new gender-neutral lifestyle brand re—inc, which focuses on “championing equity, creativity, progress, and art.” I’m excited to see how these soccer stars use their continued success to grow their personal brands, because I love everything I’ve seen from them so far.
Aside from posting this absolutely incredible photo from the World Cup celebrations, Tobin Heath has been a rockstar on the US team for over a decade now. She was the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2016, and has won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals. She also works with re—inc along with her teammates.
I could go on for hours about all of the amazing players on the US Women’s soccer team, but hopefully now you’ll notice some familiar faces when you watch their games in the future. Because we’re all watching their games in the future, right? Right?? Let’s pay these women fairly, and support them like the world champions they are.
Images: Shutterstock; mrapinoe, carlilloyd, alexmorgan13, julieertz, lavellerose, reeba04, christenpress, tobinheath / Instagram; ryanbeckwith / Twitter
Whether you’re a passionate sports fan, a casual observer or you can’t tell golf from basketball, if you aren’t following the US Women’s National Team (USWNT) as they dominate the Women’s World Cup like the Kardashian’s do a news cycle, then you are really missing out. Admittedly, I am both a soccer player and fan, so I was primed for obsession – but this has truly been a fun run to watch. And not just because these women are insanely talented athletes who broke U.S. and world soccer records in the first game of the tournament, or because they have mastered the art of turning goal celebrations into subtle yet magnificent shade. No, it’s been fun and obsession-worthy largely in part to one star player: Megan Rapinoe.
Obsessed yet? No, just me, cool – I’ll go on.
Before this World Cup, if I were to define my positioning along the sexuality spectrum, I would have secured my spot somewhere entirely surrounded by dick. Now – consider me officially on the hunt for the Megan Rapinoe to my Sue Bird. And I’m not the only one. Women everywhere (and the internet) are going wild for Rapinoe. If you are already on the Rapinoe bandwagon – then hello friends. (If any of you have purple hair, can sink penalty kicks in your sleep and won’t stand for the National Anthem – please dm me). And if you aren’t already on board, let me explain the reasons why you should most definitely hop on in time to watch Rapinoe and USWNT in the World Cup finals on Sunday.
1. She’s not going to the f*cking White House.
Last week, President Trump threw yet another Twitter tantrum in response to
my girlfriend Rapinoe stating that she had no interest in visiting the White House if the USWNT were to win the World Cup.
Reporter: “Are you excited about visiting the White House if you win?”
and all women who avoid people and locations where sexual assault is likely:
“I’m not going to the fucking White House.” – @mPinoe pic.twitter.com/sz1ADG2WdT
— Eight by Eight (@8by8mag) June 25, 2019
Rapinoe has been an outspoken LGBTQ rights activist and critic of the current administration, and is a former kneeler/current abstainer from singing the National Anthem before matches, so this is both not surprising and also amazing. And in true presidential fashion, Trump responded like a toddler deprived of dessert – tagging THE WRONG MEGAN RAPINOE in a rant inviting the USWNT for a visit but questioning their ability to win. And also for some reason, mentioning a decline in “Black unemployment”.
Anyone who can get under Trump’s skin like this a hero in my book – especially someone who can pull off purple hair, back to back penalty kicks, and looks like this in a bikini:
2. She almost single foot-edly carried the USWNT to the World Cup Semi-Finals.
Rapinoe scored the only four goals for the USWNT during the first two games of the knockout stage of the World Cup, beating both Spain and France – the host and second ranked team in the world. Two of these goals were on penalty kicks. If you’ve never taken a penalty kick, let me try my best to explain the stakes of a PK on the world’s largest stage: Make the penalty kick and you’re a hero, winning the game and the hearts of fans everywhere. Miss the penalty kick and your team is out of the tournament and it’s your fault. No pressure.
To have the poise, composure, and f*cking skill it must take to sink back-to-back World Cup PKs in the back of the net, and follow them up with two more goals against your biggest competitor – all while brushing off the bullying of the world’s most powerful baby man like you’re 2009 Jay-Z, it’s just, I can’t. It’s next level.
Me when I boil water and cook pasta instead of ordering delivery. pic.twitter.com/iN1gl0ZKRy
— Isaac Fitzgerald??? (@IsaacFitzgerald) June 29, 2019
3. She’s fighting for equality
Rapinoe is a loud and proud feminist and lesbian. Her sexuality is central to her identity as an athlete, and she has said you simply cannot win without gay players, “it’s science”. But she’s not just an idol for queer sports fans – she’s an activist for women’s equality. Rapinoe and the USWNT have been fighting for equal pay for years, and are currently suing U.S. Soccer, the very institution that they are playing their asses off for in the World Cup.
Members of the Women's National Team have earned about $90,000 in bonuses by getting this far in the World Cup.
If they were men, they'd have earned $550,000. https://t.co/yb2cI16yBx
— The Betches Sup (@Betches_Sup) June 30, 2019
It’s just, absurd. The USWNT scored more goals in their FIRST World Cup match than the men’s team has in EVERY World Cup run since 2006. Maybe, just maybe, they should get paid the same. Especially since U.S Soccer’s main argument – that the women bring in less money, is about as legitimate as Bran’s claim to the Iron Throne. And is in fact just, not true.
Megan to U.S. Soccer lawyers and haters everywhere:
If you’re still not convinced that Megan Rapinoe is the purple-haired goddess America needs right now, then
you can’t sit with us I guess we just have different taste in heroes. Either way, you should tune in on Sunday to watch Rapinoe and squad win their second consecutive World Cup championship – because they deserve your support and also deserve to get paid more.
Images: Giphy (4), Sports Illustrated, @IsaacFitzgerald/Twitter, @Betches_Sup/Twitter