U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team: The Perfect Champions

July 6, 2015

Revenge, exacted.

Just 16 minutes in to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, it was clear which team had poured its entire heart and soul into the tournament.

This was the United States’ tournament to lose, which was an eerily similar storyline to the one that followed the team in 2011. Only this time, the 23 women wearing the national team jersey were not going to let the moment get the best of them.

The team didn’t waste any time making that apparent. When Carli Lloyd earned her hat-trick in record time, it was almost difficult to take in what was happening.

Four goals in 16 minutes doesn’t happen much in a FIFA video game.

Japan isn’t a bad team, either. In fact, the 2011 World Cup champions had allowed just three goals the entire tournament prior to the outburst from Lloyd and fellow midfielder Lauren Holiday. But the Japanese defense had no answer for the aggressive American attack, something that Jill Ellis hadn’t employed in any of the matches leading up to the final.

In a way, it was exactly the kind of performance that Americans have come to expect from their sports heroes in the wake of adversity.

Rip our hearts out in the last World Cup? Fine. We’ll stomp on the gas and not let up the next time we see you.

But even more than the revenge factor, this was about earning what was theirs.

The leaders of this team…Wambach, Rampone, Rapinoe, Lloyd…have spent an entire career winning everything under the sun, save the one victory that trumps them all. Since 1999 the American women had won three Olympic gold medals, one silver and finished runner-up and third place twice in the World Cup. Throw in 14 combined Gold Cup and Algarve Cup titles and you’re talking about the most successful women’s confederation of all time.

These women knew it would take one more to cement their legacy, though. Like Patrick Ewing without an NBA title, had the United States not finished the deal everyone would have wondered in unison “what could have been?”

Now they’ll never have to hear that question.

The ghosts of ’99 have been put to rest, and young girls everywhere have new heroes to emulate. This is increasingly important as the game continues to grow, because the majority of youth players today probably never even saw the likes of Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain play live.

Naturally, conversations will be had about the record setting TV ratings (a 15.2 overnight rating which rivaled last year’s College Football Playoff semifinal games) and the surging popularity of soccer in general in the United States, but those topics are miles away from the main takeaway from this tournament.

This is the story of a favored team that went about its business, which is what we as Americans have come to expect from our national teams. Rarely do things go as planned, however. This team had its ups and downs and came into this tournament with a chip on its shoulder. They kept their heads down and blocked out distractions, because they knew just how special it would be to seal the deal.

They have set a strong example for young girls and boys alike and are a collective that as a country we can be proud to have supported over the past month.

They now have a third star to wear on their jersey, a constant reminder of the everlasting impact that they will prove to have on the program. The names Morgan, Wambach, Lloyd and others, forever etched into American sports lore. Forever bonded, just like they wanted.

Put simply, they are the perfect champions. And no team in the world deserved that trophy more.

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