The USWNT and the 2023 World Cup: Destiny or Doom?

By Anya Weerapana 

The United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) is not a stranger to success: their four Women’s World Cup wins in 1991,1999, 2015, and 2019 and their four Olympic gold medals in 1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012, supplement their hardware displays nicely. But recent disappointing matches against Spain and England have led many to wonder what the future of this team is and whether the rest of the world is catching up in the women’s game.

In September, U.S. Soccer announced that the USWNT would travel for a two-match fixture in Europe against Euro-winner England and quarter-finalist Spain. The results of the two games were less than satisfactory for the U.S. team as a whole as they reeled from the loss of NWSL Golden Boot winner Alex Morgan, whom Coach Vlatko Andonovski did not call into camp due to a knee injury. England lost several of their best as well, including Captain Leah Williamson, who had to leave training early due to an ankle injury. The England game was a wake-up call for the USWNT as England’s Lionesses dominated with 69% possession of the ball. The game ended in a 2–1 loss for the United States, their first loss in a non-Olympic competition in over three years. This result raised eyebrows worldwide, but the United States looked to turn it around the following week against Spain, ranked number 8 in the world. 

The Spanish side was expected to be lighter work for the United States, as 15 of Spain’s best players, including world-class Mapi León, Claudia Pina, and Aitana Bonmatí, opted out of national team selection indefinitely in September because of their abuse claims against Coach Jorge Vilda. However, even with the presence of Spain’s “B-Team,” the squad handed a 2–0 loss to the United States, giving them their first losing streak in nearly five-and-a-half years. 

These two subpar performances suggest that perhaps the U.S. needs to make a few managing or tactical switches, or their 2023 World Cup run won’t add the fifth World Cup-winning star to their jerseys. Sophie Fleishman ’25, a member of the Varsity soccer team, isn’t optimistic about the United States’ chances. She said, “I think that the USWNT will not do as well in the coming World Cup as they have in the past two. After watching the Euros, I think there are many teams that have a shot at defeating the U.S.” 

Hoping to re-emphasize their role as the number one team in the world, the USWNT returns to preparation for the World Cup on November 10 and 13 to play a two-game friendly fixture against Euro finalists Germany.