In celebration of Women’s History Month, ZUNews will look back at the pioneering women in the sports world.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we will look back through the years at some of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team’s pioneering women who helped pave the way for women to succeed on the pitch and left lasting legacies off the field.
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo (2000-16)
The obvious choice for the goalkeeper on the team, Solo registered 202 caps in her 17 years with the USWNT while recording 102 shutouts. She helped the U.S. capture gold at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, as well as claiming victory in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Solo also received numerous individual accolades throughout her career, including the Golden Glove at both the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, while also taking home the 2011 tournament’s Bronze Ball. She was named the 2009 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year and was chosen as the 2015 CONCACAF Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year.
Defender: Kim Crabbe (1986-88)
The USWNT was first formed in 1985, with zero women of color on the team. Kim Crabbe became the first Black woman to break that barrier. She grew up in Reston, Virginia and played forward for the George Mason Patriots. Though she never touched the field, Crabbe paved the way for women of color on the USWNT.
Defender: Joy Fawcett (1987-04)
During an 18-year run with the WNT, Fawcett became one of the U.S.’s all-time best players, appearing in 241 games. Fawcett helped the USWNT capture two World Cup titles in1991 and 1999.
The 1988 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year also helped the U.S. win three Olympic medals, winning gold at the 1996 and 2004 Games. Following her career, Fawcett was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2009 and was named to the USSF USWNT All-Time Best XI in 2013.
Defender: Brandi Chastain (1988-04)
With 192 caps, Chastain left her mark on the WNT. During her career, she helped the U.S. win three Olympic medals and two World Cup titles. In the 1999 World Cup, Chastain converted the winning kick in a penalty shootout that gave the U.S. the win. After her career, Chastain was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2017.
Defender: Carla Overbeck (1988-00)
During a 13-year run with the USWNT, Overbeck won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games, as well as World Cup titles in 1991 and as the captain of the 1999 squad. She was one of two players to play every minute of each of the team’s games at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 1996 Summer Olympics and the 1999 Women’s World Cup. After leading the U.S. to a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, Overbeck retired.
She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2006.
Defender: Christie Rampone (1997-15)
With 311 caps in 19 years, Rampone ranks second in WNT history in appearances. During her historic run, she played in nine major tournaments – five Women’s World Cups and four Olympic Games – the most in team history. Rampone helped the U.S. win Olympic gold on three occasions as well as silver in 2000, winning two World Cup titles and captaining the 2015 team to victory against Canada.
Midfield: Kristine Lilly (1987- 2011)
The most-capped player in women’s soccer history with 354, Lilly was a staple in the midfield of the WNT for 24 years. She ranks third in U.S. history in goals and second in assists. She was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 1993, 2005 and 2006. Lilly helped the team capture three Olympic medals and two World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999.
Lilly was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.
Midfield: Carli Lloyd (2005-present)
With 265 caps and 105 goals, Lloyd ranks fifth in WNT history in both categories. After winning Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008, Lloyd carried the team to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup title, netting a hat-trick in the final against Japan and taking home the World Cup Golden Ball and Silver Boot.
More hardware came after the World Cup triumph because she was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year for the first time since 2008 while also being named the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year and the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She received the World Player of the Year award in 2016 again and in 2018 reached the coveted 100-goal club in April before helping the U.S. clinch a spot in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the fall.
Midfield: Michelle Akers (1985-2000)
The co-FIFA Women’s Player of the Century, Akers tallied 107 goals while helping the U.S. win the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, where she took home the Golden Boot and Silver Ball. Akers also led the WNT to a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics before winning a second World Cup title in 1999, where she received the Bronze Ball. After her storied career, she was put on the FIFA 100 – a list of the 100 greatest footballers – and was a three-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.
Akers was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
Forward: Mia Hamm (1987-04)
One of just two women on the FIFA 100 list, Hamm is arguably the greatest player in the history of women’s soccer. During an 18-year run with the WNT, she made 276 appearances while scoring 158 goals and tallying 145 assists. She was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year five times.
Hamm was also a member of both the 1991 and 1999 World Cup champions, also winning two Olympic gold medals and one silver medal. The 2001 and 2002 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year retired as the all-time leading goal-scorer in international football history, men and women combined, and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
Forward: Abby Wambach (2001-2015)
The all-time leading goal scorer in international soccer history, Wambach rewrote the record books during her storied career, finishing sixth in WNT history in caps and third in assists. Wambach won the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award a record of six times.
After leading the U.S. to a runner-up finish at the 2011 World Cup, Wambach led the U.S. to the World Cup title in 2015. She also helped the WNT claim gold medals at the 2004 and 2012 Olympic games. Along with records and team success, Wambach was named the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2012, took home the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year and became the first soccer player to receive the AP Female Athlete of the Year award in 2011.
Forward: Alex Morgan (2010-present)
The artist behind one of the greatest goals in U.S. soccer history, Morgan was named the USSF All-Time Best XI in 2013 – at just 24 years of age. During a breakout 2012 campaign, she led the WNT to an Olympic gold medal and was named the 2012 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year. She was also a finalist for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award.
After taking home the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year in 2013, Morgan helped guide the U.S. to victory at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup while also taking home the CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year award in both 2016 and 2017.