USWNT: Elevating the Game

Words by Zack Goldman, Photos by Carlos Quinteros Jr.

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup is drawing nearer, with only a few short weeks until the planet's best two dozen national teams do battle in Canada.

It's a rare spotlight on many of the squads, who hail from countries that haven't yet registered any serious cultural enthusiasm for women's football. Even tournament favorites like Brazil — where the female game was banned in all forms until 1979 — still lag far behind other countries in the field in terms of investment, infrastructure, and ink from national media outlets.

Yet, past Women's World Cups have proven that in many of these countries, things are about to change.

Given the tournament's surging television popularity, and the fact that more girls grow up playing the sport around the world now than ever before, the next month has a large role to play when it comes to grassroots involvement, funding, and popular coverage of women's football in parts of the globe that previously weren't receptive to its existence, much less development.

In the United States, however, the women's national team likely won't experience any unexpected groundswell of support. 

That's because it's nothing new.

Last Sunday, the American women defeated Mexico 5-1 in a friendly watched by a sold-out crowd of 27,000 fans at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. In a stadium that the LA Galaxy regularly fail to fill, a power-packed blur of face paint, star-spangled bandanas, and bar scarves (high on the scale of "patriotism," rather lower on "seasonable dress") cheered Team USA to another victory.

It was their third win out of three contests in the last month in a half — the others being triumphs in front of over 35,000 fans in St. Louis and a sellout of 18,000 in San Jose — which saw the USA not only demonstrate their prowess on the pitch, but also their unparalleled levels of support in the stands.

Sunday in Carson proved yet again that for all the talk about a slow-moving American soccer culture and the need for stateside football to "catch up" with the rest of the world, the Yanks set a few trends themselves.

This — the ardent, knowledgeable, creative, nuanced, and widespread support of a women's national team — is a welcome one that hopefully the rest of the world will soon follow.

 

Words by Where Is Football's Zack Goldman and photos by Carlos Quinteros Jr. You can find more of Carlos's work by going to his website.