The members of the 2015 World Cup champion U.S. Women’s National Team will be hard-pressed to top the six days they had the first week of July.
Following the Carli Lloyd-led 5-2 dominating win over Japan, the USWNT received a ticker-tape parade New York City-style, were congratulated by President Barack Obama and made a guest appearance at a Taylor Swift concert.
But as the world champs return to their club teams and try to resume something of a normal life, this victory could prove to be the tipping point not only for women’s sports in the U.S., but soccer overall.
The women’s teams that won the World Cup in 1991 and 1999 were foundation builders, and the mothers of women soccer here in the U.S. But their impact had a short shelf life for most, and soccer for many years continued to languish on the sideline of American sports.
This victory, however, is different.
The U.S./Japan match set an American viewership record for soccer. Young girls across the nation got to watch their heroes named Abby, Alex, Hope, Megan and Carli dominate opponents and be the best in a world at a sport that is not “very American.” And more importantly, they got to see the result of hard work and dedication, a lesson that applies to sports and life as a whole.
A unique aspect of this Women’s World Cup was the amount of men who tuned in. While dad’s sat with their daughters, sons watched as well and celebrated the victory. They cheered for women because they were American and didn’t care that they were “girls.”
The victory could also prove to be a tipping point for soccer a whole in the U.S. Major League Soccer continues to grow. International stars such as Steven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo are following in David Beckham’s footsteps and adding star power to league that just this year launched new teams in New York and Orlando.
So as the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team continues to bask in the glory of a World Championship, the impact of their accomplishment will likely be felt on and off the pitch for years to come.
— Greg Sleter