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Defeat Down Under

Posted 09/15/2023 by Alexa Tsvetkov

The starting players on the United States women's team at the beginning of the 2023 World Cup. photo by Andrew Cornaga

The U.S. women’s team was eliminated from the World Cup in the Round of 16 for the first time in American history. 

Since 1991, the Women’s World Cup has been broadcast all over the world as a major sporting event. Every four years, national teams from around the globe meet to compete for the World Cup title. This enormous event is the pinnacle of women’s soccer and is watched by millions of people. In anticipation, the loyal United States fans were convinced that their team would outdo every other country in the tournament. Historically, the US women have been a powerhouse in the soccer world. They typically dominate the field and easily make it to the semifinals. In total, the U.S. women’s team has won four out of the eight total world cups since 1991. However, this year was different. After the group stage (the first part of the tournament before anyone is eliminated), the American women suffered a disappointing tie to Sweden and were sent home.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup was held in several locations in both Australia and New Zealand with 36 teams from 36 different countries. At the United States 2023 debut, they started strong with a 3-0 finish against Vietnam. The team showed up with three stunning goals from Sophia Smith and Lindsay Horan, both of whom hail from Colorado. However, as the team progressed through the group stage, it was clear they began to struggle. In their next games, they tied with both the Netherlands and Portugal. In what should have been two easy games, the women struggled to keep up. U.S. fans couldn’t believe the disheartening performances from some of their favorite players and were hopeful that the team’s ties were a fluke. The women continued to Round of 16 where they tied again with Sweden which sent the American women heading home. Junior Leila Olbricht-Simon, TJ Girls’ Soccer player and U.S. women’s fan, explained that the performance was “hard to watch” and the team just “didn’t seem to be the women’s team the world knew and loved.” 

Far before the tournament began, the U.S. women took to TikTok and other social media platforms to advertise the games. Hundreds of posts went out, including interviews with the players or commercials that featured the team. The team was making statements in commercials about how their team was unstoppable and they were coming for victory. Consequently, many critics responded that it felt like the U.S. team was becoming arrogant and overconfident. “The tournament was over-advertised and it consequently set the team back,” said Olbright-Simon. Experts claimed that with nothing to prove, the team became lazy and didn’t feel the need to put their best foot forward. Even so, the majority of fans rallied behind the U.S. women and expressed their support. 

Later in the tournament, England and Spain faced off for the championship. Spain’s captain Olga Carmona ended up scoring in the 29th minute, winning the World Cup. As for the U.S. team, they have four more years to improve and work towards another World Cup win. The future for them is unpredictable, but knowing the team’s history, they will most likely come out stronger on the other side.