USWNT: Why I didn’t cheer for the USA in the World Cup

LYON, FRANCE - JULY 07: Megan Rapinoe of the USA, golden ball and Alex Morgan of the USA, silver boot pose with their respective trophies after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
LYON, FRANCE - JULY 07: Megan Rapinoe of the USA, golden ball and Alex Morgan of the USA, silver boot pose with their respective trophies after the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The USWNT made history by defending their World Cup title on Sunday. But I, despite being American, did not cheer for the USA. Here’s why.

Thank you for swallowing the click-baity title. Yes, I am an American. Yes, I follow women’s soccer (very closely, in fact). And no, I did not cheer for the U.S. Women’s National Team during this summer’s World Cup. I know that publicizing that fact in an article is going to get me slaughtered on the internet, but I’m willing to take that sacrifice if you’re willing to read through this entire article to understand why.

I think that there is little doubt that the USWNT is the best team in the world. After winning two World Cups in a row, I think that American soccer fans at the very least recognize that the U.S. is a certified world power in the women’s game. Crowds gathered in every major city in America for watch parties, thousands of fans went across the pond to follow the team live. Do people care about women’s soccer now? It would seem so.

But in actuality, they don’t. These people care about America being the best at something. It’s the same sort of thing that happens during the Olympics when suddenly everyone loves men’s curling because the Americans are doing cool things. Americans like to see America win, no matter what it is they are winning. But that does not mean they care about the thing that they are winning.

Nevertheless, that just explains people who care about World Cup play. There are still plenty of people who care about the USWNT even when they play friendlies. But I also don’t really believe that these people truly support women’s soccer. How did these players get onto the team? How did they earn their way on? Did they even earn their way on? Many people just watch the USWNT with no regard for any other performances other than the ones given while wearing red, white, and blue. This naturally incurs some blindness to the rest of the world when it comes to the opponents in those friendlies.

Instead, the people who I believe do truly care about women’s soccer in America are those who go to National Women’s Soccer League games. There you can see how some of these players do without the other best Americans. Players like Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan struggling in Orlando, while non-national team players like Jessica MacDonald and McCall Zerboni are lighting it up in North Carolina. The people who show up to games for their local team and not for the stars on the other team, these are the ones that care.

This year, the USWNT has been very vocal with their fight for equal pay. They have absolutely earned it. But there are players playing in the NWSL, fighting week after week against and alongside legends like Megan Rapinoe, Marta, and Christine Sinclair, who have also earned it. For the longest time, many of these players had second jobs. Some still do. Many struggle to find housing and deal with low-quality training facilities because the teams just can’t afford it — as an aside, the standard of the facilities is a major problem. Any team in the NWSL that has great facilities is benefitting from sharing with an MLS team, while many others play in small parks or sports complexes because there’s just no financial ability to change that situation.

If you were to care about women’s soccer, you would care about these players, not just the American stars. Whenever I talk to anyone about women’s soccer (which is a lot, ask anyone that I know), the thing that most people bring up is attendance. According to SoccerStadiumDigest, there are only two teams averaging more than 10,000 per game. No other team is averaging more than 5,000 per game. It is used as an argument for how people do not care about women’s soccer and therefore no one should care — it is an odd, cyclical argument since by just going to a game you can affect the results.

A lot of this is on the way women’s soccer and soccer in general is perceived in America. Soccer is a game played by suburban kids. There is even a caricatured stereotype that references this perception: The Soccer Mom. The idea that soccer is only for kids really misses the point when it comes to sports. Look at the perception of baseball and football. They have a large number of children who play, but their professional leagues are there to be professional leagues. When it comes to women’s soccer, it seems like the goal of the marketing is to ‘inspire’ rather than to actually market a team and compete.

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It’s been this way for years. The USWNT is sent out there to inspire kids to go out and play soccer and be healthy. And that’s it. If they win, America feels good about being America, but it never extends to the idea that this is a sport of the highest level. It leads to this perception continuing that these women aren’t professionals, and by not supporting the NWSL and other domestic leagues, it means they are unable to provide them with the training and support that professionals deserve.

In a recent article on The Equalizer, the argument came up again that the U.S. Soccer Federation, the USSF, does not support the NWSL properly. While there are certain salaries subsidized by the USSF, there are still issues surrounding sponsorships, lack of league marketing, and the possible cut-off of those aforementioned subsidies. In fact, while working on this article, the USWNT already announced a victory tour. That all seems well and good, until you realise that it will be right in the middle of the NWSL playoff race. It is a clear show that the USSF just doesn’t care about the NWSL.

So, I’ve been going on and on about the league and how it relates to the USWNT, but that still doesn’t explain at all why I didn’t cheer for the USWNT. It’s not that I don’t like the U.S. players. I’m a big fan of Rose Lavelle’s and her Twitter profile, I have been a massive fan of Megan Rapinoe since she was first drafted by the Chicago Red Stars back in 2009, and I can’t not love Julie Ertz and Alyssa Naeher. But I just don’t care about the national team. I don’t really care about international soccer in general.

I’m club over country.

I support the Chicago Red Stars over any national team in the way. I was one of the original season ticket holders back in 2009, left when the WPS folded, then came back in 2014 to become a season ticket holder for their NWSL form. If you ever check the NWSL tab on MLS Multiplex, you’ll see me writing a preview and a recap for every single Red Stars game. Do I follow the rest of the league very well? Not as well as I’d like, but I try my best. And that’s still better than many people who only show up around women’s soccer when it’s the national team.

LYON, FRANCE – JULY 07: Megan Rapinoe of the USA lifts the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy following her team’s victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands at Stade de Lyon on July 07, 2019 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Maddie Meyer – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images) /

This year, I was cheering for Australia in the World Cup because ‘I love Sam Kerr more than I love America.’ Then I cheered for Japan because I always liked the way they play, then the Netherlands because I thought they deserved to win a World Cup. I may be cheering against the USWNT at those points, but there’s a reason for that too.

The USWNT is the best team in the world. It’s a simple fact. They’re so good that even if their coach makes dumb decisions, they still win because the players are just that good. Look at this recent article from this very site explaining how the USWNT will continue to dominate. It’s boring and expected for the USWNT to win. When they win, it’s business as usual. The players then say ‘go watch the NWSL’ and most people give a nod of appreciation and just move on. Heck, I fell into that trap with the US Women’s Hockey Team and have only watched a total of two NWHL games despite wanting to actually get into it.

It just feels like a USWNT World Cup victory is business as usual and in a few months, we will all go back to no one caring about the NWSL. I could be wrong. Perhaps we will see a massive influx of sponsorship money into the league, a rise in pay for the players, improved training conditions, and teams other than Portland selling out their stadium. But I have my doubts.

So, in the end, it’s up to you angry USWNT fans who clicked on this article to prove me wrong. If you already support your local NWSL team, good for you. Get more people to go to games. If you insist that you aren’t close enough to a team, just find a team. If you live in Wyoming, you’re a Utah Royals fan now. If you live in Georgia, you’re a North Carolina Courage fan now. If you don’t think that’s right, choose your team yourself. Just support the NWSL.

Next. USWNT Vs Netherlands: 3 things we learned. dark

Show up for more than just to see an opponent’s national team player, show up to support your team. Learn about your team’s history. Learn about the players on your team that aren’t on the USWNT and support them. Maybe someday they’ll make the national team. Just do your part to make women’s soccer more legitimate in the U.S. and the world. And until that is the case, I will be abstaining from supporting the USWNT.