The 2019 Women’s World Cup Champions, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), played their first soccer game in eight months on Nov. 27.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the soccer team has not been able to play a game since Mar. 11 of this year. The 261 day hiatus marks the longest gap between the team’s matches in 30 years, and made fans eager to watch the champions play once again.
“Seeing the USWNT play again after such a long break made me feel very optimistic and excited about this upcoming year because, as a soccer player, I enjoy watching and playing the game. But, unfortunately, COVID-19 has created immense restraints on our ability to play,” Miami Palmetto Senior High School varsity soccer player and junior Angelina Gonsalves said.
In their first game back, the USWNT team took to the field to play the Netherlands. The last time the two teams went up against each other dates back to the 2019 World Cup finals in France where the U.S. emerged victorious and won their fourth World Cup title.
The game did not only mark the team’s first game back, but also marked the return of several players. Veteran forward Alex Morgan returned to the field for the first time since the World Cup after months away due to the birth of her first daughter, Charlie. Her appearance brought a sense of pride and self-worth among many female soccer players.
“Seeing Alex Morgan back on the field created an abundance of pride in me as a female because she was able to bounce back as a player and has shown her dedication and commitment to the sport,” Gonsalves said. “She is also proving to society that she is a hard-working individual willing to prove gender inequality factors wrong.”
Midfielder Kristie Mewis gained her first cap (how many games a player has participated in at an international level) for the country since 2014 and joined her younger sister, midfielder Samantha Mewis, on the field once again. Noticeable absences came from key players, such as forwards Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd, who both opted out of the 2020 fall season.
Additionally, during the game, the team displayed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by wearing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” on their warm-up jackets and issuing a statement before the game. Some players even took a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice in the U.S.
In the first half of the game, midfielder Rose Lavelle scored the team’s first goal against the Dutch women’s team. Later on, Kristie Mewis scored the team’s second and final goal. This 2-0 win leaves the team with a 32-game winning streak.
The next USWNT game is scheduled for Dec. 9 in Ft. Lauderdale against the Slovenian national team. The games played are in preparation for the 2021 Tokyo Summer Olympics, where the United States looks to win their fifth Olympic gold medal.
“Coming off of a World Cup win, I think [the team] has an added confidence boost for the Olympics,” USWNT fan and Palmetto junior Catherine Baylis said. “I think they really only have a few teams to worry about as legitimate competitors in Tokyo, like the Netherlands and Japan. I think their chances of winning look good.”