Women’s Soccer Popularity + Success (USWNT)

The 2021/2022 season will be the 9th for the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States. The league is filled with top international talent, including many USWNT soccer players. It’s continued to grow in professionalism and popularity throughout the years.

Women’s soccer is growing, in the U.S., and around the world. The sport is gaining popularity and respect but still struggles against stereotypes and unequal pay. 

Yet, at the same time, most games are not streamed on regular sports channels, and some aspects lag far behind the level of professionalism deserved. 

Despite unequal pay and constant criticism, the USWNT has garnered far more success than the men’s team and is the favorite heading into the 2021 Olympics. 

Harrison Nj - May 26, 2019 U.s. Women's World Cup Team Send-Off Celebration For 2019 Womens World Cup On Red Bull Arena In Harrison, Nj. (1)
Harrison Nj – May 26, 2019 U.s. Women’S World Cup Team Send-Off Celebration For 2019 Women’S World Cup On Red Bull Arena In Harrison, Nj. (1)

Is women’s soccer getting more popular?

Women’s soccer has grown immensely in the last 20+ years. While women’s soccer has experienced growth worldwide, it’s gained significant popularity in the United States.

In 2020, despite the pandemic, women’s soccer in the United States set viewership records. 

The National Women’s Soccer League returned to action as the first professional sports league in 2020, and the Challenge Cup broke viewership records by 300%.

  • The last game of the challenge cup drew 653,000 views, partly with an EPL match the same week. 

Sponsorships also reflected the growth of women’s soccer heading into the 2019 World Cup. Nike, Visa, Coca-Cola, and Adidas were key sponsors for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

Nike created custom uniforms for 14 of the 24 teams. 

According to a 2019 CNBC article,

“U.S. women’s soccer games have generated more revenue than U.S. men’s games over the past three years.”


Abigail Johnson Hess

Financial statements from the Wall Street Journal showed that the 2016 US women’s games generated $1.9 million more in revenue than the US men’s games. 

Womens Soccer At The Olympics
Womens Soccer At The Olympics

Why is US women’s soccer so successful?

The USWNT won its 4th World Cup in 2019, more than any other women’s team. The team is consistently ranked #1 by FIFA and is recognized worldwide as the top women’s team. 

One of the reasons the team is so successful is because of Title IX. legislators passed Title IX in 1972, prohibiting educational organizations from discriminating based on sex.

High schools and colleges around the nation had to add women’s programs to adhere to the law. This pushed women’s soccer into the mainstream. 

Key players from the USWNT’s early years also had a major impact.

Michelle Akers helped define the American soccer style by imposing domination in the midfield.

  • In the early years after its 1985 inception, European teams technically outmatched the USWNT, but they brought an unparalleled work rate led by players like Akers. 

Success begets success. An early victory for the USWNT was a powerful motivator that set the tone for the legendary team.

They won the first-ever women’s World Cup in 1991 and then again in an iconic fashion against China in 1999. 

Conversely, the suppression of women’s soccer in other countries contributed to the USWNT’s success. There were times that England, Germany, and Brazil banned women’s soccer

Many other countries claimed soccer was not a women’s game and did not invest in its development.

In 2006, there were 3 million female youth players around the world. Over half were in the U.S. 

Soccer At The Olympics Us Womens Lifting Trophy And Medals
Soccer At The Olympics Us Women’S Lifting Trophy And Medals

Why is the USWNT so good?

Some of the top reasons the USWNT has gotten and stayed so good include:

  • Investment in women’s sports via Title IX
  • An early triumph that drew interest to the sport
  • Limited professional women’s soccer opportunities around the rest of the world
  • Less competition from an interest in the men’s team 
  • A huge base of youth players 
  • A strong women’s soccer training program 
  • Resources and facilities 
  • Notable players like Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, etc. who caught the eye of sponsors
  • Determination and winning mentality 
Usa Vs England Match During The 2020 Shebelieves Cup At Exploria Stadium In Orlando Florida On Thursday March 5, 2020
Usa Vs England Match During The 2020 Shebelieves Cup At Exploria Stadium In Orlando Florida On Thursday, March 5, 2020

How to play for the USWNT?

Much like playing professionally, there is no secret formula for playing on the USWNT. However, looking at some top players, we can see crucial steps.

Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn are two very different USWNT players who played in the 2019 World Cup. They both:

  • Played on very strong, successful club/high school teams. 
  • I played D1 college soccer at a Power 5 school
  • Were on youth women’s national teams 
  • Earned several extremely high soccer honors at the youth and college level
  • Were drafted first in the NWSL 
Harrison, Nj - May 26, 2019 U.s. Women's National Soccer Team Celebrates Scoring Goal During Friendly Game Against Mexico As Preparation For 2019 Women's World Cup In Harrison, Nj. Usa Won 3 - 0
Harrison, Nj – May 26, 2019 U.s. Women’S National Soccer Team Celebrates Scoring Goal During Friendly Game Against Mexico As Preparation For 2019 Women’S World Cup In Harrison, Nj. Usa Won 3 – 0

Why is the USWNT better than the USMNT?

The USWNT has had more success and consistently maintained higher rankings than the USMNT. There are several different factors at play influencing this disparity, including:

1. The USA Pioneered Women’s Soccer

While the USWNT largely began on a whim, the program led the way for women’s soccer worldwide. The team immediately generated success, which helped boost the sport’s popularity in the U.S. 

On the other hand, men’s soccer is behind the rest of the world. The first professional league (which folded) did not begin until the 70s.

Compared to other major European countries, men’s soccer in the US is a late player that still has much catching up to do. 

2. Focus on Men’s Soccer Worldwide

Along that same note, the USMNT struggles because of the worldwide passion for men’s soccer.

Because of the early and incredible success of the USWNT, women’s soccer has garnered immense attention here. In other countries, the focus was (and still is) on men’s soccer. 

The passion for men’s soccer in other countries means the U.S men’s team has many many powerhouses to battle against.

  • The USWNT gained an early leg up and skyrocketed their development before many countries even allowed women to play professionally.

The U.S. does not prioritize men’s soccer like other countries. 

3. Choice of Athletes

Another reason the USMNT team struggles in comparison to the USWNT is the choice of athletes. Top male athletes in other countries choose soccer first, but that’s not the case in the U.S.

Overall, the best male athletes in the United States are more likely to enter football, basketball, and even baseball ahead of soccer.

  • Just imagine the likes of Adrian Peterson had he been trained in soccer. 

Quite the opposite is true for women’s soccer. While basketball is the most popular competitive sport for girls by age 9, soccer is the next most popular, with 10% of girls playing organized soccer by age 14.

The huge talent pool makes it easier for the USWNT to identify and develop dominant players. 

4. Lack of Accessibility 

This problem affects the USWNT and USMNT but has a clear, profound impact on the men’s team. In the U.S., soccer is not accessible to kids in the inner city.

  • Urban and low-income kids do not have the same access to the “pay-to-play” soccer programs, which has caused the sport to take a huge hit in terms of diversity. 

There are talented, athletic kids who could be great soccer players that do not have access to the sport.

Furthermore, the culture of soccer has not permeated those areas either. This is one of the biggest reasons why talent from urban areas turns toward basketball and football ahead of soccer in the U.S. 

Harrison, Nj - May 26, 2019 U.s. Women's National Soccer Team Celebrates Scoring Goal During Friendly Game Against Mexico As Preparation For 2019 Women's World Cup In Harrison, Nj. Usa Won 3 - 0
Harrison, Nj – May 26, 2019 U.s. Women’S National Soccer Team Celebrates Scoring Goal During Friendly Game Against Mexico As Preparation For 2019 Women’S World Cup In Harrison, Nj. Usa Won 3 – 0

Can the USWNT beat a men’s team?

The USWNT could beat a men’s team, but not every men’s team. Your local open-aged outdoor team? Absolutely. A professional-level team? It’s not so clear. 

When pushed to answer if the USWNT could beat a professional German team, Carli Lloyd responded;

“if you take those [speed and strength advantages] away, it would be a contest.”

Carli Lloyd
Ibrahimović Playing In The Mls Taking On A Player
Ibrahimović Playing In The Mls Taking On A Player

Could USWNT beat an MLS team?

Soccer requires technical, tactical vision, and athleticism. The USWNT is technically and tactically more advanced than most MLS teams.

However, MLS teams generally have a size and athletic advantage that could overwhelm the skill gap. 

While it’s unlikely the USWNT will ever scrimmage an MLS team, many players train individually and in small groups with each other. 

Difference between women’s and men’s soccer

Men’s and women’s soccer do not need a direct comparison, but many people are keen to attempt to discredit the women’s game with them. 

Media Portrayal

One of the starkest differences is how male and female players are portrayed in media.

On two different Sports Illustrated covers, you can see David Beckham portrayed like a superhero while Alex Morgan is objectified in a bikini.

Media outlets sexualize female players to gain interest. 

Pay Gap

Another difference the USWNT team currently battles is the FIFA pay difference.

  • The average salary for professional female players in the U.S. is between $25,000 and $85,000 per season, while the men make up to $300,000 per player.

For the 2014 and 2015 World Cup, the men’s champions won 17x more than the women’s champions. 

Demands of the Game

Men and women have anthropometric and physiological differences, but the differences are smaller in professional soccer players than in the general population.

This suggests that female soccer players have improved their fitness and strength relative to the average population better than males. 

Based on the differences in VO2 max, kicking velocity, and height/stature;

“female players have to cope with relatively much tougher demands than males.”

NCBI

While many other sports alter the rules for the two sexes, soccer does not.

If soccer scaled the rules and regulations according to sex differences;

  • the goal would be scaled down,
  • a size 4 ball or lighter size 5 ball would be used,
  • the pitch would be 77% of its current size
  • the match duration would be 70 minutes. 

Ultimately, it is not fair or necessary to compare men’s and women’s soccer based on the current rules and regulations. As the research study in Frontiers in Psychology concludes,

“to give a fair comparison of female and male soccer, one would have to scale values according to the relative physiological capacities and establish gender-specific thresholds.”

Arve Vorland Pedersen – Ingvild Merete Aksdal – Ragna Stalsberg

Did the US women’s soccer team get beat by an u15 team?

In 2017, the USWN lost a scrimmage to an FC Dallas U15 boys team. They competed in the scrimmage to prepare for upcoming friendlies. According to CBS Sports,

“Of course, this match against the academy team was very informal and should not be a major cause for alarm.

The U.S. surely wasn’t going all out, with the main goal being to get some minutes on the pitch, build chemistry when it comes to moving the ball around, improve the defensive shape and get ready for Russia.”

Roger Gonzalez

Many critics used this scrimmage to argue why the USWNT should not be paid as much as the men’s team.

Interestingly, there is no information about results from other scrimmages against boys’ teams. 

As women’s soccer continues to develop worldwide, the USWNT pioneers its growth and serves as a shining example.

Despite the sport’s growth, female players still face many challenges worldwide. 

If you’re looking for a pair of pro women’s soccer cleats. Here’s a list that the USNWT wears! Read the full article here to find the perfect cleat for you.

USWNT Soccer Cleats

Nike Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Unisex Mens At5269-414 Size 5
New Balance Men'S Tekela V3+ Magique Fg Soccer Shoe, Impulse/Vibrant Orange, 8 Wide
Nike Unisex'S Phantom Gt Elite Fg Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue Mtlc Silver Rage Green Black, 5.5
Nike Men'S Legend 7 Pro Fg Footbal Shoes, Grey Dark Grey Black Opti Yellow 070, 7 Uk
Puma Men'S One 20.1 Osg Fg Football Boots, Nrgy Peach Fizzy Yellow Aged Silver, 7.5
Cleat
Nike Vapor 13 Academy Fg/mg Unisex Mens At5269-414 Size 5
New Balance Men's Tekela V3+ Magique FG Soccer Shoe, Impulse/Vibrant Orange, 8 Wide
Nike Unisex's Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 5.5
Nike Men's Legend 7 Pro Fg Footbal Shoes, Grey Dark Grey Black Opti Yellow 070, 7 UK
PUMA Men's ONE 20.1 OSG FG Football Boots, Nrgy Peach Fizzy Yellow Aged Silver, 7.5
Stars
Nike Vapor 13 Academy Fg/Mg Unisex Mens At5269-414 Size 5
Cleat
Nike Vapor 13 Academy Fg/mg Unisex Mens At5269-414 Size 5
Stars
New Balance Men'S Tekela V3+ Magique Fg Soccer Shoe, Impulse/Vibrant Orange, 8 Wide
Cleat
New Balance Men's Tekela V3+ Magique FG Soccer Shoe, Impulse/Vibrant Orange, 8 Wide
Stars
Nike Unisex'S Phantom Gt Elite Fg Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue Mtlc Silver Rage Green Black, 5.5
Cleat
Nike Unisex's Phantom GT Elite FG Soccer Shoe, Photo Blue MTLC Silver Rage Green Black, 5.5
Stars
Nike Men'S Legend 7 Pro Fg Footbal Shoes, Grey Dark Grey Black Opti Yellow 070, 7 Uk
Cleat
Nike Men's Legend 7 Pro Fg Footbal Shoes, Grey Dark Grey Black Opti Yellow 070, 7 UK
Stars
Puma Men'S One 20.1 Osg Fg Football Boots, Nrgy Peach Fizzy Yellow Aged Silver, 7.5
Cleat
PUMA Men's ONE 20.1 OSG FG Football Boots, Nrgy Peach Fizzy Yellow Aged Silver, 7.5
Stars

Sharing is caring :)

Essential Equipment You Need

20 Pieces of Gear Soccer Players and Coaches Need For Soccer - With Pictures

Playing Soccer FAQ

Is soccer a contact sport?

While tackling with excessive force, charging, and striking opponents are illegal in soccer, players often overstep the boundaries. Although this generally results in appropriate sanctions being awarded, it doesn’t prevent significant contact from occurring.

What do soccer teams do at halftime?

At halftime, soccer teams exit the field. They return to their bench area. For youth teams, they may not have a locker room. However, many college and professional teams do head back to the locker room. 
The break is an opportunity for teams to collect themselves. They may talk about what is going well in the game, and what they need to resolve.

How do I join a soccer team?

Attend trials for schools, teams in your local area. If no trials are due, then contact the coach to see if you can join a practice. Search for local soccer teams and try a few to see if it suits your ability and it also needs to be a place that you would enjoy. Scholarships are also available depending on your age, ability, and location. 

Why does a soccer ball curve?

The angle and speed with which the soccer player’s boot strikes the ball determine how far the ball travels. The ball won’t curve or spin if the player hits it right in the middle with their foot following through in a completely straight line.

What are some injuries players get when playing soccer? 

The most common knee and ankle injuries are mild to severe sprains, strains, and tears. Other less common knee and ankle injuries include dislocations and fractures.

What are some ways to pass a soccer ball?

+ Inside foot: Using the area above and inside of the big toe.
+ Outside foot: This creates a spin on the ball to swerve the ball around players
+ The Laces: A powerful volley can be performed with a straight leg swing.
+ Spin: If the toes get underneath the ball with some force you create a backspin.
+ Back heel: Connect the heel with the ball to reverse play.
+ Header: Often used for clearing and shooting, but can be a creative passing move.
+ Body: Use any part of the body to deflect the ball into the path you desire.

Related Posts


Thank you for reading our articles - we hoped you've enjoyed them and are having fun playing, coaching, and watching soccer.

Soccer Blade is an affiliate and an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases - at no extra cost to you.