Sunday was a U.S. soccer fan’s dream.
Early in the afternoon, the U.S. women’s national team took on the Netherlands in the championship game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, while the U.S. men’s team took to the pitch against Mexico in the championship game of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Looking at the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams and their respective results from Sunday’s games, the stories of each are quite interesting. One is looking to return to the form it has lost over the past couple of years, while the other continues to maintain its dominance on the world stage. Looking at how everything turned out Sunday, the picture of where both teams stand has become a lot clearer.
The U.S. women’s national team has participated in every Women’s World Cup since the tournament was created in 1991, has won four of the eight tournaments and has never finished lower than third. While it could be argued it is easier to reach the Women’s World Cup than it is the men’s World Cup, it is still a tough road to qualify, and once there rest assured the best women’s teams from every other continent will be waiting, all with their eyes resting on bringing home the title.
The U.S. women’s team did just what it was expected to do, storming undefeated out of the group stage and outscoring the rest of the group (Sweden, Chile and Thailand) 18-0. Despite a relatively weak outing in the round of 16 against Spain, the U.S. edged France and England before shutting out the Netherlands.
Politics aside, it is clear the women’s team is doing something right if it can go undefeated against some of the best teams in the world (France, England, the Netherlands and Sweden are all ranked in the top 10) and claim its fourth Women’s World Cup title, something no other women’s national team has done before (Germany has won it twice, the only other team to win more than once).
At the same time, the men’s national team has been going down a rough path since the fall of 2017, when a stunning loss to Trinidad and Tobago kept the U.S. out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, marking the first World Cup to not feature the Americans since Mexico 1986. Going into this year’s Gold Cup, there were still a handful of questions surrounding the team, including how things would turn out in the group stage, as the U.S. ended up in the same group as Trinidad and Tobago for the first matchup between the two since 2017. The men’s team also managed to dominate during the group stage, topping Guyana, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. After slipping past Curacao, the U.S. took charge in the semifinals against Jamaica before a late goal by Mexico left the U.S. settling for second place in the tournament.
Despite not bringing home a championship, the U.S. men’s team demonstrated it is doing its best to turn things around, trying to improve its standing and work toward being a stronger team that can once again contend for titles. There is still a great deal of work the men’s team still has to do to reach this level, but the overall competitiveness seen at this year’s Gold Cup tournament shows the team is getting on the right track to its full potential.
So, with a series of international friendlies on the horizon for the women’s team and the men’s team gearing up for both the CONCACAF Nations League and qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in the near future, the next few months will be an exciting time for both U.S. national teams.