Hope Solo is no stranger to controversy, and neither is Megan Rapinoe. Both women have made it a point to use their platform to further the causes they care most about, and while it’s Megan Rapinoe’s social stances (or lack of stance, but we’ll get to that in a moment), the thing that seems to keep Hope Solo in the news is her choice of phrase.
This time, in the midst of attempting to make a nuanced point about the division that surrounds the activism of the US Women’s National Team, she used one of the biggest buzz words anyone can use- bully. And she used it in reference to her old friend and teammate…
“I’ve seen Megan Rapinoe almost bully players into kneeling because she really wants to stand up for something in her particular way. But it’s our right as Americans to do it whatever way we’re comfortable with and I think that’s really hard being on the main stage right now with so many political issues for athletes. There’s a lot of pressure and ultimately at the end of the day our number one focus should and has always been to win first.”
Hope Solo was in the middle of a reasonable thought about the way the country as a whole reacts to athletes protesting during the national anthem, saying “Right now what I’ve seen is there’s been so much debate about the kneeling, about the not kneeling. I know most people stand against discrimination, and I live in the south, I live in a very conservative area here in North Carolina in the south. Obviously I have friends on both sides of the aisle, but I think the kneeling thing can be very divisive.”
She’s not wrong. Kneeling during the anthem is factually, objectively, palpably divisive… and that’s sort of the point of it. But, as legions of people have pointed out on social media, Hope Solo wasn’t exactly around for the kneeling. She’d been suspended from competition for six months just days before Megan Rapinoe first publicly protested.
Her suspension came after calling the Swedish National Team “cowardly” for their style of play, and for raising the ire of the entire city of Rio for saying she was “begrudgingly” traveling to the Olympic games amidst Zika virus concerns. On both occasions, she was left to clarify seemingly reasonable intent due to less than stellar word choice. So here we are, yet again. Not only is bully a word that is sure to get everyone riled up, the timeline of the accusation is undoubtedly going to lead to a need for further explanation.
UnafraidShow.com founder George Wrighster gets into all that and more here:
Have a take you’d like us to read and address in a future article or on a future show? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll address your take.
Clay Travis Thinks the USWNT Makes More than USMNT
When the opening lines of an article about a compelling topic use the words “victims”, “facts”, “feelings” and “the good fight”, it falls flat. This is exactly what sparked the discussion about the USWNT and USMNT pay.
I know we live in an era when everyone wants to be a victim and facts don’t matter, but notwithstanding this sad trend I continue to fight the good fight and bring you facts instead of feelings.
I know, I know, it’s sexist of me to actually share facts that contradict a victimization narrative in 2019. How dare I?
Clay Travis, OKTC
Good lord, the men are getting screwed here.
Clay Travis, OKTC
Now, aside from some cringe-worthy quotes, Clay Travis actually believes that there is a pay gap in soccer. He does admit that things are unfair. But, Travis believes that it is unfair to the men. He thinks that the USWNT makes more than the USMNT. Additionally, Travis claims that the US Women earn more money without producing as much revenue.
Now, it’s tough to blame Clay Travis when he got all of his “facts” from US Soccer.
Now these are, importantly, all the funds provided by US soccer.
Clay Travis, OKTC
As seen above, Travis got all of his facts from a single source. One source. And on top of that, all of it came from US Soccer. That is baffling. Especially for a journalist. Everyone, no matter whether they are a journalist, lawyer or regular Joe/Jane, should learn from this. It is necessary to view facts and arguments from both sides of an argument. Ignoring the opposition in order to defend morality and non-sexism is ultimately how sexism continues to perpetuate society.
Remember, Facts are Complicated and Can Be Spun in Both Directions
Those arguing against paying women equally are quick to argue:
Women earn a higher percentage of prize money than men in World Cups
USWNT have benefits like health insurance, sick leave and 401k’s that men don’t
US Soccer said that the women earned more, while producing less
It’s all about revenue. Women’s sports don’t create as much revenue
The women agreed to their collective bargaining agreement and should stop complaining
But, as noted in a previous Unafraid Show article, it’s much more complicated than that. A deeper dive is needed into the role of revenue, sponsors, and pay.
“That’s something never really analyzed.” “What is the potential value of the Women’s World Cup? Nobody knows the Women’s World Cup commercial value because it’s not sold separately. This is something that should at least be discussed.”Tatiana Haenni, former FIFA head of women’s soccer
Tatiana Haenni, former FIFA head of women’s soccer
The former head of FIFA women’s soccer says that the financials are not clearly separated. So, because of this FIFA revenue isn’t black and white. More financials are needed, but they’re not readily available to the public.
Facts from US Soccer’s Carlos Cordeiro
In addition, the numbers provided by US Soccer’s President Carlos Cordeiro and cited by Clay Travis are strictly from 2010-2018. Why not give a larger or smaller data set? Why these years? Perhaps to fit a narrative.
Cordeiro states that the USWNT made more than the USMNT from 2010 to 2018. In particular, they said that the USWNT earned $34.1 million in salaries and bonuses, which is nearly $8 million more than the men’s $26.4 million. He continued by arguing that the USWNT only produced $101.3 million, compared to the USMNT’s $185.7 million. Is this a true fact? Well, yes and no.
Differences in Pay Structures and Performance
First off, this calculation includes NWSL salaries. Currently, US Soccer pays for club salaries of USWNT players. Unlike their counterparts, male players are strictly on a “pay-for-play” structure. While the USWNT argues that this should not be counted, it is definitely an inclusion by those against them. Additionally, these numbers ignore how dominant the women have been.
From 2010 to 2018, here are their compared numbers:
This also ignores the fact that the men MISSED out on the 2018 World Cup. That alone would have raised their pay significantly. So, the USWNT make more than the USWMT? Kind of. Yes, according to the US Soccer figures, they made more than the men from 2010 to 2018. But, they also played more games and earned more bonuses from wins. The USWNT played in 13 World Cup matches during that time, winning 12 and drawing 1. Contrastly, the men played in 8, winning two, losing three and drawing three. So, of course, they should have made more. However, they shouldn’t have to be the best team in the world for a decade just to edge out a middling-national team (USMNT).
Also, remember these numbers are also handpicked by US Soccer and President Cordeiro. Why 2010 to 2018? What about 2014 to July of 2019? Why not include the USWNT’s back to back World Cup cycles? When looking at the three years following the 2015 World Cup win, the women’s team produced a net of $27,544,953, compared to $3,130,980. Additionally, recall that the USWNT broke a flurry of records and proved themselves in both viewership and revenue. Since the 2015 World Cup win, the USWNT is producing more total revenue than the USMNT. Their home kit also became Nike’s best online-selling jersey in a single season. On top of that, according to Fanatics, the 2019 women’s team is the top-selling national soccer team, men or women. With all that said, it appears that Corderio’s numbers are hand-picked.
Remember, heavy skepticism should be placed in lawsuit facts and figures.
Apples to Apples
Also, all of these numbers ignore the simplest ones. When games are compared apples to apples, the men make drastically more than the women. Comparing the two structures as-is is not the point because of the different pay structures. The USWNT has a base salary, while the men are paid for matches and performance.
“The USSF fact sheet is not a ‘clarification.’ It is a ruse. Here is what they cannot deny. For every game a man plays on the MNT he makes a higher base salary payment than a woman on the WNT. For every comparable win or tie, his bonus is higher. That is the very definition of gender discrimination. For the USSF to believe otherwise, is disheartening but it only increases our determination to obtain true equal pay.”
Molly Levinson, USWNT Spokeswoman
Because of the differences in their pay structures, it’s difficult to clearly assess. Of note, the USWNT are vying for equal pay structures. Men earn considerably higher roster and game bonuses when compared to women. Do the USWNT make more than the USMNT on a per-game basis? No, and that’s what they want. They desire a CBA that is consistent with the men.
Do the women get different benefits that the men don’t. Yes. And that can’t be ignored either. Unlike the men, the USWNT earn year-long salaries and have their club (NWSL) salaries paid by US Soccer. This is true. They also receive health benefits that the USMNT does not. And, if the US Soccer reports are true, the USWNT make more than the USMNT on a macro scale. All of these need to be considered when weighing the arguments of equal pay.
USWNT Had to Be the Best to Out-Earn USMNT
However, it is very important to remember that the USWNT was (and still is) the best women’s national team in the world for the better part of a decade. Out-earning the men is most likely due to wins and bonus money. For goodness sake, from 2010-2018, the USWNT won match after match and lifted trophy after trophy:
World Cup Champions: 2015
World Cup Runner-Up: 2011
Olympic Games Gold: 2012
CONCACAF Championship and Gold Cup Champions: 2014, 2018
CONCACAF Championship and Gold Cup: 2010
CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament Champions: 2012, 2016
Algarve Cup Champions: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015
Four Nations Tournament Champions: 2011
SheBelieves Cup Champions: 2016, 2018
Tournament of Nations Champions: 2018
Unlike the USMNT from 2010 to 2018, the women were incredible. With their 2019 World Cup repeat, they continue to display excellence. So, it would make sense that the best team in the world for a decade would out-earn their middling cousin. They earned bonuses and prize money that the men couldn’t. Again, that is all on a macro scale, displayed only through the sample-set of data given by US Soccer.
Equal Investment and Equal Care for USWNT and USMNT
In a broad sense, it’s about equal investment and equal care of both the men’s and women’s sides. Whether it’s youth team programs, marketing, the branding of the team, how they sell tickets, what they spend advertising money on, what they pay each side, what they spend on support staff, what they spend on coaching, what’s the travel budget — it’s all of that. The compensation is sort of the last big part.
That’s what the USWNT want. Equal pay doesn’t mean that the women can out-earn the men IF they are the number-one team in the world for a decade. Instead, equal pay would mean that the women and men would have the same structure in addition to, as Rapinoe states, equal care and investment.
As this lawsuit continues to develop and as more information comes out, remember to skeptically view the facts and figures from both sides.
Megan Rapinoe Refuses Any Notion of White House Visit
Just a day after the USWNT victory against Spain, Megan Rapinoe firmly opposed the idea of visiting the White House. If the USWNT repeat, she refuses to step foot on White House premises. And though she regrets the use of an expletive in her statement, Rapinoe holds the same stance.
This Isn’t Anything New for Megan Rapinoe
Like her protest of a White House invitation, Rapinoe has stood for justice for years. Just days (not weeks) after Colin Kaepernick kneeled for the first time during a national anthem, Megan Rapinoe did the same. It was a nod to Kaepernick and support to the protest. She’s been at the front of this movement, helping lead and bring awareness to the cause.
“it’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this.”
In kneeling, Rapinoe sparked heavy backlash from many. The majority of that negativity came from those both straight and white. Fortunately for her, she wasn’t blackballed like Kaepernick. Although the U.S. Soccer Federation did attempt to silence her efforts by requiring standing during the national anthem, she still has her job.
As a refresher, here are the lies that surrounded Colin Kaepernick’s blackballed, NFL career.
Like Kaepernick, there are so many misguided ideas surrounding Megan Rapinoe. She is not anti-American, against our country and out to ruin the lives of our children and military. Instead, it’s quite the opposite. Rapinoe is speaking for the marginalized and oppressed. Police brutality and racism still intertwine themselves in our country. Like this ridiculous and obscene behavior from Phoenix Police Officers:
“I’m gonna f***ing put a cap right in your f***ing head.”
Officer Christopher Meyer, Phoenix Police
It’s 2019 and cops are still willing to threaten and shoot unarmed persons of color over seemingly anything. Officer Meyer threatened to “put a cap” in a mom’s head in front of her children over a stolen Barbie from a dollar store. A dollar store! He equated a black person’s life to one dollar. That’s how much worth he gave her. A single dollar. He was willing to murder her over a dollar Barbie. It’s sickening.
It’s a Long Road Ahead
This country is certainly not perfect and we still have volumes to discuss. Because of this, Megan Rapinoe protests during the national anthem or refuse invitations to the White House. She’s not alone either. A multitude of athletes have joined this opposition to President Trump. Food goodness sake, the last NBA team to visit the White House was the Cleveland Cavaliers, during President Obama’s second term. So why is everyone so outraged by Megan Rapinoe? Rapinoe believes that the president is “sexist, misogynistic, small-minded, racist and not a good person.” She has every right to protest the power. In fact, it’s incredibly American and Patriotic to rise up against injustice. That’s how our country was founded in the first place. Through protest and the restructuring of power.
This shouldn’t be a big deal anymore. Regardless, Rapinoe and her protesting are still bringing light and discussion to our country’s inadequacies. And for that, we should be thankful.
To everyone calling the USWNT unsportsmanlike after their recent 13-0 win, please stop. These women are warriors and this is their job. Winning, even if by the largest margin in World Cup history, is completely within their rights. It should be nothing but praised. Yes, it was the USWNT vs Thailand and not the USWNT vs France or Germany. Nonetheless, dominating at the international level is exactly what the USWNT need to do at this World Cup.
This is the World Cup
First off, this is the FIFA World Cup. It’s the world’s most prestigious sporting event, aside from the Olympics multi-sport compilation. For this reason alone, letting off the gas is not a concern. These are the world’s greatest athletes. It’s not the USWNT’s job to stop scoring. It’s the opposing defenses job to do that. Additionally, blowing out the other team is not unsportsmanlike. At all. This isn’t youth sports and it’s not an adult rec-league. There’s no need to keep things close to encourage the other team to keep playing. It’s not about fun, friends and having a good time. It may be a game to many, but this is their job. They are all professional soccer players. Their motivation already comes from pride, country and paycheck.
Celebrating Doesn’t Make the USWNT Classless
Even so, the celebrations looked “classless” to many. Why is it okay for Megan Rapinoe to celebrate after she scored the USWNT’s ninth goal?
Well, it’s okay because this is a tournament that happens once every four years. This is the FIFA World Cup! These women are playing for their country, in front of the most eyes women’s soccer ever receives. Most men and women never play in a World Cup, let alone score in one. For some of these athletes, this will be their only World Cup. They’ve worked tirelessly towards this tournament. It’s the pinnacle of their profession. So, celebrating a goal scored in the biggest moment of their lives should not be an issue.
Practice is Great. But In-Game Experience is Better, even a 13-0 USWNT vs Thailand Match
Additionally, that USWNT vs Thailand win was excellent for player form. Athletics are about form, rhythm and confidence. Practice can only do so much. In-game experience is completely different. Players have to find their top level quickly. Not adjusting from practice to the real deal is costly. At major tournaments, form and confidence swing like a pendulum. Teams catch fire or drop out. Even the best players in the world catch the “yips”. Jill Ellis and U.S. fans should be nothing but excited about seeing Alex Morgan and company at the top of their game. For goodness sake, seven different women scored a goal for the USWNT.
Alex Morgan (5 goals)
Rose Lavelle (2 goals)
Lindsey Horan (1 goal)
Sam Mewis (2 goals)
Megan Rapinoe (1 goal)
Mallory Pugh (1 goal)
Carli Lloyd (1 goal)
In their spectacular victory, the USWNT set records for:
Goals scored in a World Cup match (men’s and women’s)
Largest margin of victory in a World Cup match (men’s and women’s)
Most individual goal scorers in a World Cup match (women’s)
Debuts and Veterans
Adding to that is Alex Morgan’s historic, five-goal scamper. With five goals, she tied the World Cup match record for individual goals scored. For a team with goalkeeping and defensive question marks, firing on all offensive cylinders is absolutely necessary. Especially considering how many young stars are in their first major tournament. Not only do these young stars get critical experience and minutes, they get to test their powers. Unlike Carli Lloyd, who continues to find the back of the net no matter her age or club form, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Sam Mewis and Mallory Pugh scored their first ever World Cup Goals. Any anxiety about their first World Cup disappeared when that ball hit the back of the net. Not every game is going to be the USWNT vs Thailand. They are going to have more difficult opponents, so this win is good for rhythm and form.
This is Their Job
Also, it’s important to reemphasize that this sport is their profession. It’s not a hobby or a game. To them, it is their livelihood. In any other profession, winning big and celebrating is encouraged. America, perhaps more than any other country in the world, praises revenue and gains. Companies don’t discourage their salesman and saleswomen to share the market with their competitors. That would be ridiculous. Small business and corporation alike, increasing individual margins is a top goal. Change inevitably happens and successful people strike when the iron is hot. They utilize opportunity and advantage. In the same way, the USWNT are making the most of their time and talent. This World Cup is short and goal differentials become monumental tiebreakers. Scoring big helps the USWNT stay ahead and lock their eyes on one goal: win the 2019 FIFA World Cup.
USWNT vs. U.S. Soccer
Most importantly, the UWSNT are earning their paycheck. As discussed in a previous article, the USWNT are locked in a lawsuit against U.S. Soccer over pay equality. This victory adds fuel to the USWNT’s case. In the men’s last three World Cups (2006, 2010, 2014), they scored 12 goals combined. In just one victory, these women outscored that. Unlike the lackluster men, the U.S. women are as impressive as the Golden State Warriors or New England Patriots. With each highlight they create, they add audience, revenue and respect to women’s soccer. When they win, women’s soccer wins. Sports and pay are already stacked against female athletes. Instead of jeering them for celebrating victory, support them and assist their rise.
The USWNT Forwards Are The Strength of the U.S. Team
At last, this roster coverage turns away from the goalkeepers, defense and midfield and to the strength of the U.S. Women’s National Team roster: the forwards. Attacking ability is the utmost importance to the Americans. Oddly enough, even with the talent of the three starters (Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath), Jill Ellis brought four additional forwards. Some of them, especially a clutch veteran like Carli Lloyd, could see action as a midfielder as well. They have incredible depth at the position, filled with diverse talent. Any other country would dream of this level of security and upside. Creating scoring opportunities is what the USWNT forwards do better than anyone else. Here is the most dangerous attacking group in the World Cup.
The USWNT Forward Projected Starters
Alex Morgan | Age: 29 | Caps: 163 | ST | Team Captain
When soccer fans think of U.S. soccer, Alex Morgan is who they think of. She is the face of the USWNT. Morgan is among the most prolific goal-scorers in U.S. history. Morgan’s 101 goals rank 6th all time and her 0.62 goals per game is elite. Morgan was the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year in 2012 and 2018, in addition to being the CONCACAF Player of the Year in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2018. She is, beyond a doubt, a pure goal-scorer, through and through.
Peculiarly, Morgan never found her footing in the NWSL. Her 0.36 goals per game is significantly lower than her international average. Additionally, Morgan never earned an NWSL Best XI appearance. She also was only NWSL Player of the Week once in her career. In the NWSL, Morgan is just another player. But internationally, Alex Morgan is sensational.
For the USWNT forwards, Morgan is the electricity. When she broke out for the USWNT, Morgan displayed game-breaking speed and a knack for scoring. She was raw, fast and powerful. Morgan’s skillset gives her the ability to get behind the defense. She routinely gains position with speed and strength. Her athleticism and shooting ability were always dangerous. But, in recent years Morgan’s developed into even more of a threat.
Alex Morgan Evolved
In her growth, Morgan evolved into a well-balanced striker, willing to also be a role-player. In games, Morgan is seen making clearing runs or setting up the pass before the assist. She sets up her surrounding teammates for success. Her intelligence and knack for field position have also upgraded. Morgan makes phenomenal off-ball runs and has an impeccable first touch.
So, remember that Morgan can and likely will score in plenty. She has incredible upside, scoring 28 goals with 21 assists in 2012. In her arsenal, she has:
Three. In her soccer career, Megan Rapinoe has suffered three different ACL tears. But, each time she has returned to all-pro form. Her last ACL tear was in 2015 and many have placed partial fault of the USWNT’s loss to Sweden on Rapinoe’s recovering knee. But no more. Rapinoe is back and dangerous as ever.
There are two words that describe Rapinoe best: versatile and creative. Rapinoe is comfortable and a threat with either foot. She beats opponents on the left side to send in assists from the byline or cuts inside to create her own right-footed shot. Rapinoe can score or assist from every piece of grass on the attacking third.
Based off of her assist count, Rapinoe is an easy choice for playmaker. Her 57 assists ranked 5th all-time for the USWNT. In the 2015 World Cup, Rapinoe serviced up key passes on the regular. Her vision and feel of the game is brilliant. She is the Andre Pirlo of the UWSNT forwards. Rapinoe can and will set up her teammates to succeed.
After fouls, Rapinoe is at her most potent. Her dead-ball service is top of the world. She delivers upper-v strikes to the back of the net or lofty passes to a teammates head. Rapinoe’s intelligence and placement is unmatched. When, not if, the opposition gives her a dead ball opportunity, be ready for the spectacular.
Tobin Heath | Age: 31 | Caps: 150 | RW
Get your highlight reels ready because Tobin Heath’s footwork is ridiculous. It always has been. In her first USWNT cap, on her very first touch on the ball, Heath nutmegged two Canadian defenders. This is her story. Heath is confident and aggressive with her foot skills. She’s much like Brazilian footballers in that way. Why dribble around a player when she can nutmeg them?
Best of all, Heath is entering the 2019 Women’s World Cup in her best form. She notched 10 international goals since the start of 2018. Additionally, Heath earned an NWSL Best XI in 2018 and Best XI in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. Her seven goals and six assists in just ten games in 2018 are exceptional.
On the right side of the pitch, Heath can be left alone. Because of her technical strength, Heath is difficult to guard one-on-one or even two-on-one. She can beat people off the dribble on any touch, has pace to run down a through ball, and plays through contact. Heath frequently makes professional and international defenders look inadequate.
In her third World Cup, Heath is expected to be great. She made four appearances in the 2011 World Cup and started five of the seven 2015 World Cup games. Big tournaments are not foreign for Heath. She is 31 years old and is a veteran winger. Barring injury, Heath should start all seven games and continue her 2018 success.
Wait. Carli Lloyd is a reserve? That’s almost as shocking as watching the NBA playoffs without LeBron James. To those new to the soccer world, Carli Lloyd is a USWNT legend. She’s ranked in the top-ten for caps, goals and assists. In the 2015 Women’s World Cup, Lloyd was clutch as could be. She scored in each of the USWNT final four games. In the final, Lloyd unleashed the beast and scored a hat trick to push the USWNT into victory. She was unstoppable, topping off her hat trick with a half-field strike.
Lloyd, after that ridiculous finals effort, was obviously granted the tournament’s Golden Boot. She was also the 2015 FIFA World Player of the Year. Everything went right for Lloyd and she is the last memory of the 2015 FIFA World Cup.
After the World Cup, Lloyd spent a few professional seasons with sub-star levels of performance. Adding to that is her age. Lloyd is 36 years old, 37 in July. She’s not fit enough to efficiently play a full-90 anymore. But, with the talent around her, she doesn’t have to be.
Instead, Lloyd gets the chance to come off the bench as a super-sub. Ellis moved the attacking midfielder to a reserve forward for one reason: come off the bench and shoot. Lloyd never hesitated to shoot as a midfielder and will certainly not pause as a USWNT forward. She always goes for goal, aggressively and determined. Though she’s not as fast as her younger self, Lloyd can play technical and crafty. Judging by her latest performances on the USWNT roster, it appears she’s once again found her footing. Lloyd scored five times in her last three matches. Once again, Lloyd is ramping up her international clutch gene. Get ready to watch the return of a legend.
Christen Press | Age: 30 | Caps: 116 | ST
If ever there was a player you don’t want the opposition to bring off the bench, it’s Christen Press. Press is a track-star, soccer player with incredible speed. She is a change-of-pace phenom with a high ceiling. Press will use her acceleration, along with a lethal cut back to her left-footed shot, to drive the ball into the back of the net.
At her best, Press is a goal-scoring machine. She set Stanford’s all-time scoring record with 71 goals. Press was the fifth player in USWNT history to score double-figure goals in three consecutive years (2014-2016). She slotted in with USWNT giants Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Tiffany Milbrett and Carli Lloyd. In those seasons, she also earned a spot on the NWSL First XI in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Additionally, she captured the 2013 Damallsvenskan Golden Boot. Those years were excellent for the striker.
Tale of Two Christen’s
But since then, she’s taken more of a backseat in USWNT scoring. After scoring 41 international goals from 2013 to 2016, Press only has 7 goals since 2017. Again, Press has game-breaking abilities. On four occasions, Press tallied an international hat trick. In one of those, she had four goals. Also, Press recently was Damallsvenskan Player of the Month after scoring four goals in three games in April of 2018. When she’s on, she’s on.
However, Press’ inconsistency as a USWNT forward is an issue. Then again, as a reserve, Press holds unbelievable upside. Her speed and scoring ceiling can open up large leads for the U.S. team. Whatever the case was for her slip in goals since 2017, Press remains an excellent reserve with World Cup experience and the ability to catch fire.
Mallory Pugh | Age: 21 | Caps: 53 | LW/RW
At just 21 years of age, Mallory Pugh already has 53 international caps. Amazing. She is without a doubt a rising star on this USWNT roster. Pugh was U.S. Soccer’s Young Female Athlete of the Year in 2015 and Gatorade’s National Female Soccer Player of the Year in 2016. For good reason.
Pugh is Technically Sound
On the USWNT forward depth chart, Pugh is a pure winger. She doesn’t hesitate to take on defenders directly with strong dribbling and precise footwork. When on the field, Pugh provides consistent, progressive runs. Attacking the defense like a seasoned veteran is what she does. Pugh has fantastic spacing and makes great runs off the ball. She understands the game and what the defense gives her. Her position makes it easy for teammates to find her. She is a technically savvy winger and that is deadly.
Adding to her winger skillset is a natural ability to score goals. In her first cap against Ireland, at just 17 years of age, Pugh came in off the bench and score. In her first cap. At 17! In 2016, she also became the youngest American player to score in the Olympic Games. Pugh knows how to get the ball in the back of the net. She is an excellent winger and will continue to rise.
With that being said, Pugh is still not as good as Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. And that’s okay. Those are elite players. Pugh is still so young. She has more time to develop and master her craft. Still, if she is called upon this 2019 Women’s World Cup, she undoubtedly will shoot. Pugh is impressively efficient and has an uncanny ability to score.
Jessica McDonald | Age: 31 | Caps: 7| ST
Though she’s 31 years old, Jessica McDonald is the least experienced on the team, internationally speaking. She only has 7 caps to her name, gaining her first call-up in 2016. The reason behind her lack of international play is mostly because of injury and pregnancy. During her rookie season in the WPS, she suffered a devastating, knee injury with an 18-month recovery. During recovery, McDonald also became pregnant. By age 23, every other player on the USWNT roster had at least one call-up. McDonald, on the other hand, had an injured knee, a pregnancy and the dissolving WPS to worry about.
But, like many hero’s journeys, McDonald continued to persevere. It wasn’t simple either. In the last ten years, she’s played for nine different professional teams. In her son’s first two years, she played for four different teams, one in Australia. Being traded from team to team and moving from city to city, as a single mother, is not easy. Even so, McDonald made the most of her opportunities.
Paving Her Own Path
After moving back to the states for the inaugural NWSL season in 2013, Jessica McDonald began to make waves. She was the first player in the NWSL to reach 33 regular-season goals.
Even so, she still played off the bench or jumped from team to team. It wasn’t until 2017 that McDonald played on the same team for consecutive seasons. Because of their loyalty, the North Carolina Courage got the best of McDonald’s play. She helped lift them to two NWSL Shields (2016, 2017) and an NWSL Championship in 2018. In the closing moments of the 2018 season and the playoffs, McDonald was exquisite. She finished the regular season with four goals and four assists in her final seven games. Then, McDonald scored the only goal in the NWSL semifinal, then two goals in the title game and earned an NWSL Championship MVP.
McDonald may be 31, but her play is peaking. She’s finally getting the respect she deserves and a spot as a USWNT forward. McDonald is the best substitute striker in NWSL history. Now, she gets to patiently await her opportunity to strike.
If the Defense Falters, the USWNT Forwards Need to Score Multiples
After review, the USWNT forwards are without a doubt the strength of this squad. They will send volleys of shots at opponents, no matter the score. Ellis is an attacking-minded coach and her seven forwards display this. Each of them could earn a roster spot on another country’s team. This depth will serve the USWNT roster well. Especially considering the lack of depth, experience, and health at defense and goalkeeper. In order to win, the USWNT needs to score multiple goals in every game. Their defense and style will fail to shutout opponents. Nonetheless, they have the firepower needed to do so. Get ready for goals. And goals in abundance.