The USWNT Could Set a Huge Record at the World Cup This Summer
The ninth edition of the FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off this summer in Australia and New Zealand. It's the biggest Women's World Cup tournament ever, with a total of 32 countries competing between July 20 to August 20. Whether you're a diehard soccer fan or you only tune in when the Olympics and the World Cup roll around, this event is definitely cause for excitement — especially for the US. The US women's soccer team played its first match in 1985, and it's been a force to be reckoned with ever since.
In fact, the US women's national team enters the tournament as the defending champions, and they just might pull off another record-breaking win in 2023. Wondering how many times the US women's team has won the World Cup, and what those victories were like? Keep reading to bask in the glory of the USWNT's World Cup wins.
How Many World Cups Has the US Women's Soccer Team Won?
The FIFA Women's World Cup started in 1991, and since then, the US women's soccer team has won four of the eight tournaments, taking home the trophy in 1991, 1999, 2015, and 2019. Going into the 2023 Women's World Cup, the USWNT is bidding to become the first team to win three titles in succession, per FIFA.
Thanks to these four wins, the US holds the record for winning the most Women's World Cup tournaments, followed by Germany with two wins; Japan and Norway have one apiece. Even in the years the US didn't win, the team has never gone home without a medal.
If you're impressed, just wait until you learn how the team's four victories went down. Keep reading for a look back at their wins.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Mazzo
USWNT World Cup Victory: 1991
The US women's team started off on the right foot when they claimed victory at the inaugural FIFA Women's World Cup in 1991. The team was undefeated throughout the competition and defeated Norway 2-1 in the final. Michelle Akers scored both goals and became "America's first women's soccer star," per The Seattle Times. In addition to scoring the goals that clinched the US's victory, Akers won the Golden Boot award as top scorer in the tournament — in all, she scored 10 goals at the World Cup, including five in one game.
USWNT World Cup Victory: 1999
Playing on home soil in Pasadena, CA, the US claimed their second trophy in 1999. The final game, against China, had the entire world on the edge of their seats. In over 100-degree heat, the teams played to a scoreless draw, and the game moved into 30 minutes of extra time.
After the overtime, the game was still tied. So it culminated in a penalty shoot-out, which the US won 5-4. The winning goal was scored by Brandi Chastain, who famously removed her jersey during the wild celebration. The image was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and the moment instantly became iconic not just in sports history, but also in American history.
The 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup is considered a watershed moment for women's sports; the excitement surrounding the event is credited with increased enthusiasm and participation in women's soccer. Over 90,000 people, including President Bill Clinton, attended the final game, according to the BBC.
USWNT World Cup Victory: 2015
The final game of the 2015 tournament pitted the US against Japan — a rematch of the 2011 Women's World Cup final, in which Japan claimed victory. But this time the US came out on top with a 5-2 win. Four of the US team's goals were scored within the first 16 minutes of the game. Midfielder Carli Lloyd scored three of them, setting the record for the fastest hat trick in World Cup history. Reuters described Lloyd's third goal, scored from midfield line, as "one of the most remarkable goals ever witnessed in a Women's World Cup."
In the 86th minute of the game, 40-year-old Christie Rampone (a member of the victorious 1999 team) was substituted onto the field, making her the oldest player to compete in a Women's World Cup tournament, according to The Washington Post. Goalkeeper Hope Solo won the Golden Glove award, and Lloyd won the tournament's Golden Ball thanks to her unstoppable scoring streak.
USWNT World Cup Victory: 2019
Led by captains Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, the USWNT began the 2019 Women's World Cup on fire. During their opening match against Thailand, the team scored a record-breaking 13 goals, making it the highest-scoring game in the Women's World Cup. The final game against the Netherlands, however, wasn't so easy; both teams went scoreless until the second half. In the 61st minute, Rapinoe broke through with a goal, which was followed by another from breakout star Rose Lavelle. With these two points, the USWNT cinched the 2019 title against the Netherlands 2-0, securing their second World Cup title in a row. In 2023, they'll try for number three.