As the United States Women’s National Soccer Team prepares for their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup opener, it’s worth considering just how much the team has already accomplished over the past 28 years.
The team’s first World Cup victory back in 1991 may (or may not) seem like ages ago. But when thinking of all that the USWNT has done to thrill their fans en route to not one, not two, but three stars over the crest, the sheer magnitude of iconic players and moments over a relatively short period of time is staggering.
Let’s zoom in on the best of the best, the moments emblematic of the way the USWNT has led the charge into an increasingly competitive and compelling world of women’s soccer.
Moment 1: Carin Jennings, the proto-Carli Lloyd, 1991
The 1991 U.S. team was not the overwhelming favorite it’s become in recent World Cups. In fact, just reaching the final registered as a surprise, according to the best-known player from that group, Michelle Akers.
“No one expected us to get this far,” she said prior to the final. “We’ll be disappointed if we lose. If we do our best, I don’t think anyone can beat us.”
A primary reason the U.S. reached the final, however, was Carin Jennings, now Jennings-Gabarra. In the semifinal against vaunted Germany, Jennings started scoring and just didn’t stop. Like Lloyd in 2015, Jennings scored three first-half goals, the third on the most poised bit of footwork, waiting Germany’s goalkeeper out and then slotting it past her to give the U.S. an insurmountable 3-0 advantage.