All hail the USWNT - the most impressive team in world football
Spare us your comparisons between men and women’s football - few sides come near this USA team
The United States women’s national team has been crowned World Cup winners for the second consecutive tournament.
Their victory over the Netherlands in Lyon was their fourth World Cup triumph in total, and the first time that they had retained the trophy.
From the first whistle to the last, starting with their 13-0 demolition of Thailand and concluding with their convincing and professional defeat of the Netherlands in the final, Jill Ellis’ team have exuded confidence, experience and ruthlessness on their way to cementing their place on top of the world.
Like all teams that reach the upper echelons of their sport, the USWNT’s success has been begrudged as much as it has been celebrated.
When you’re the best, you’re disliked. When you’re the best and you’re women, you’re hated, judged and, ahem, encouraged on how to behave.
Throughout the World Cup the USWNT have been told that they were arrogant and unsporting for their vociferous celebrations of their record-breaking victory over Thailand, an accusation levelled at them once again after star players Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan had the audacity to... *checks notes* celebrate goals that they had scored in a manner they wanted.
These criticisms have prompted conversations over whether male players would be on the receiving end of such comments, or whether, as is more likely, they’d be praised for their winning mentality.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Balotelli celebrate by tensing their muscles? Look at those ballers.
Megan Rapinoe celebrates by standing with arms outstretched taking in cheers like the champion she is? God, she really fucking loves herself, doesn’t she?!
But rather than bend to the pressure - rather than act like the ‘ladies’ so many total fucking weirdos would prefer them to be - they have doubled down.
They have celebrated harder, played with more intensity, and treated their opponents with as much mercy as they’d hope to be given.
We say we want our football teams to have swagger, ruthlessness and confidence in their ability - indeed the latter is often cited as one of the most important attributes in the game.
In this US team, we see all three in abundance.
Rapinoe, Morgan, Dunn, Lavelle and co. know that they are the best team in the world. They do not cow to judgement of their behaviour and they do try to be something that they’re not.
In a world in which women continue to be judged with microscopic scrutiny in every area of their lives, they are unashamedly themselves in all respects.
For that, they are a credit to their sport, a credit to their country and - right now - the most impressive football team on earth.