You’re forgiven if you thought that was an American football scoreline.
They have never finished worse than third at the World Cup.
So how did the US women become a soccer powerhouse, while the men still seem a long way from realistically competing for a World Cup title?
The answer is complicated, and in some ways, the growth of women’s soccer is a microcosm of the fight for gender equality.
The Title IX effect
The success of US women’s soccer can’t solely be attributed to Title IX.
But there’s little question that the law sparked huge growth in women’s athletics, at a time when many countries were either not investing in women’s sports, or, in some places, were actively quashing them.
The law prohibited any educational institution receiving federal funds from discriminating on the basis of sex, which includes athletics.
Though the law was signed in 1972, it still took years for many schools and universities to fully comply, Blumenthal says. But as more did, this spurred athletics participation among women and girls, as more and more high schools and colleges added soccer programs.
For women’s soccer in particular, this triggered explosive growth.
“Because the opportunity to play high school soccer is there, because the opportunity to get a college scholarship is there, a lot more girls are going to play,” Blumenthal said. “And that’s what’s really important. Not only are you going to have talent that rises to the top and becomes the US women’s soccer team, but a lot more girls are going to be physically fit, they’re going to have the experience of athletic competition and they’re going to have the opportunity to play sports.”
It was and still is this huge base of youth soccer players — and investment in developing players — that has helped feed talent to the US Women’s National Team.
While many European countries have since invested in women’s soccer as the game has grown internationally, other traditional soccer powers have not.
Will the US run of dominance continue? And can the men catch up?
If the US women do claim their fourth World Cup, American fans should enjoy it while they can.
There are signs that the rest of the world might be catching up.
At the international level, the stiffest competition lately for the American women is coming from a handful of European squads — Germany, Norway, Sweden and World Cup hosts, France.
In Europe, the number of female soccer players continues to grow.
Europe is also home to several competitive women’s professional soccer leagues, which are helping to improve international competition.
We’ll find out soon if one of these teams can stop the US quest to repeat as World Cup champs.
But even at the top, inequality exists for female soccer players.
As for the US men …
Why haven’t they achieved the success of the women?
There’s no simple answer, but many point to the fact that the US have failed to consistently develop the amount of top talent needed to compete with the world’s best.
The men could have their next shot at the World Cup in Qatar in 2022. But first, they’ll have to qualify for the tournament.
The US Women’s National Team’s next game is against Chile at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 16.