2019 is a big year for the United States Women’s National Team. Not only will they be participating in the eighth FIFA Women’s World Cup in June looking to defend their 2015 title, but when play begins on January 19, it will kick off the 35th year of the USWNT and is the 20th anniversary of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup title.
With such a monumental year about to unfold and to celebrate the history of the USWNT, I thought I’d put together an All-Time Best XI squad. To qualify, players must have registered over 100 caps and been part of a victory in a major tournament (World Cup, Olympics).
The team will be chosen in a 4-3-3 formation, with four defenders, three midfielders, three forwards and a goalkeeper occupying the eleven spots.
With the kickoff to 2019 just hours away and the World Cup getting closer and closer, here are my picks for the top eleven players in the history of the U.S. Women’s National Team.
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo 2000-16
The obvious choice for the goalkeeper on the team, Solo registered 202 caps in 17 years with the WNT 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 also 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: 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, while helping the U.S. capture two World Cup titles (1991, 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 (two gold) and two World Cup titles. As part of the 1999 World Cup champions, Chastain converted the winning kick in a penalty shootout that gave the U.S. the win, which she followed up with one of the most iconic celebrations in sports. 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 just 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 (2004, 2008, 2012) as well as silver in 2000 while also winning two World Cup titles, captaining the 2015 team to victory in Canada.
Midfield: Kristine Lilly 1987-10
The most-capped player in women’s soccer history (354 caps), Lilly was a staple in the midfield of the WNT for 24 years. She ranks third in U.S. history is goals (130) and second in assists (106) and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 1993, 2005 and 2006. During her time with the WNT, Lilly helped the team capture three Olympic medals (two gold) and two World Cup titles in 1991 and 1999. After she retired, 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 as 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 again received the World Player of the Year award in 2016 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 1985-00
The co-FIFA Women’s Player of the Century, Akers tallied 107 goals (4th in U.S. history) while helping the U.S. will the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, where she took home the Golden Boot and Silver Ball. A three-time U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year (1990-91, 1999), 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 named to the FIFA 100 – a list of the 100 greatest footballers – and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2004.
Forward: Mia Hamm 1987-04
One of just two women named to 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 (3rd all-time) while scoring 158 goals (2nd) and tallying 145 assists (1st) and was named the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year five times (1994-98). Hamm was also a member of both the 1991 and 1999 World Cup champions, also winning two Olympic gold medals (1996, 20004) 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 or women – and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
Forward: Abby Wambach 2001-15
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 (256) and third in assists (73) while winning the U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year award a record six times (2003-04, 2007, 2010-11, 2013).
After leading the U.S. to a runner-up finish at the 2011 World Cup – where she received the Silver Ball and Bronze Boot -, 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 and took home the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year and in 2011 became the first soccer player to receive the AP Female Athlete of the Year award.
Forward: Alex Morgan 2010-present
The author of perhaps the greatest goal in U.S. soccer history, Morgan was named to 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 and was 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.
After another spectacular season in 2018, Morgan received her third consecutive CONCACAF Women’s Player of the Year award and was named the 2018 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year while leading the WNT to a berth in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Currently sitting seventh in U.S. history in goals (98) and just two shy of the 100-goal club, Morgan should have plenty of good soccer ahead of her as she aims to lead the U.S. to another World Cup title.