We’re one day away from the start of the Women’s World Cup in Canada (Yay), but the United States won’t take the field until Monday (boo).
Til then, there’s plenty of material to get you ready for the tournament, but perhaps we’ll be able to clear up some confusion for casual American fans.
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Despite the many laurels of the U.S. women in recent years (Olympic gold, Gold Cup title, Algarve Cup title), the one thing that’s eluded most of the current crop of Yanks is a World Cup title (Christie Rampone was on the winning 1999 squad).
In fact, as this tournament gets moving, how about a quick recap of the U.S. team’s fate in the game’s biggest competition?
Ah, yes, the FIFA World Championship for Women’s Football for the M&M’s Cup. You see, forward thinking FIFA wasn’t so sure about this whole “females playing soccer” thing, and thought candy more properly conveyed the message.
After a 3-2 thriller over Sweden to open the tournament, your U.S. side trounced its way to the final against Norway. Golden Boot winner Michelle Akers netted both goals in a 2-1 win over Norway that helped the States finish with a 6-0 record and 25-5 advantage on the scoresheet. Your move, world.
The States kicked off the tourney by failing to get max points for the first time, drawing China 3-3. It was a harbinger of struggles to come, as Norway earned a measure of revenge by blanking the U.S. in the semifinals en route to a title. Mia Hamm and Tisha Venturini netted as the ladies won the third-place game, a rematch with China.
United States 1999
After romping through group play in an expanded field (13 goals scored, 1 allowed), Germany gave the Yanks a scare by taking 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the quarters before Joy Fawcett scored in the 66th minute to lift the U.S. to a 3-2 win. A 2-0 win over Brazil in Palo Alto set the stage for a scoreless draw and penalty kicks against China.
If only something memorable happened…
United States 2003
Four years later, still at home… no problem, right? It started off that way, with the States again going on a cakewalk through group play to the tune of 11-1. The Yanks then vanquished Norway 1-0 to set up a semifinal date with Germany. That didn’t go well, at all. Portland was the venue for a 3-0 loss to the Germans, who would go on to the win their first World Cup.
Surely the Yanks were ready for another title, having won the first tournament in the same host nation, but disappointment came calling again. Group play was a tough run for once, with Abby Wambach scoring three of the States’ five goals, but things looked alright after a 3-0 win over England in the semis. Then came a flameout at the Yellow Dragon Stadium, as the States were blanked by Marta’s Brazil to the tune of 4-0. Four. Nil. A soccer nation was stunned, and a reputation unfulfilled.
The finished second in its group, losing its first ever group stage match in the finale against Sweden. After earning a measure of revenge in the quarters via a PK shootout win following Wambach’s clutch extra-time, stoppage-time equalizer, the all-time leading scorer picked up the match-winning goal in a 3-1 semifinal win over France. That brought on Japan in a match that went to PKs.
It did not go well for the Yanks, as Japan keeper Ayumi Kaihori made a pair of saves…