Top 10 U.S. women's soccer players of all time
Women’s soccer continues to grow both in the U.S. and around the world, led by some of the stars of the American team. These are the 10 best USWNT players in soccer history.
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U.S. Women’s Soccer continues to grow, as more domestic opportunities are available to the U.S. Women’s National Team players than ever before. Only a couple of decades ago, the very best players in the world of women’s soccer struggled to find domestic soccer teams to play for, with some barely having a career away from the USWNT.
The likes of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are now able to play domestic soccer in the U.S., while others continue to have success in Europe with the likes of French giant Lyon or various teams in the English Premier League.
Today’s list highlights some of the greatest U.S. Women's soccer players of all time -- stars who have paved the way for game’s advancement to its present state. In celebration of Women's History Month, let's recognize and honor these trailblazers and their ongoing efforts to support and elevate women's soccer.
Best current USWNT players
The current US women’s National Team is currently led by veterans Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, who between them have over 400 appearances for their country. Both were part of the USWNT that won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019.
The team has a bright future, too, with young stars in Lyon’s Catarina Macario and Washington Spirit’s Trinity Rodman.
Macario is considered one of the most exciting prospects in international women’s soccer, scoring 23 goals in her debut season at Lyon and helping her team win the UEFA Women’s Champions League. The attacking midfielder/striker is just 23 years old and looks set to be the next superstar of the USWNT. She’s one of the most talented U.S. women’s soccer players in Europe and has been featuring for the US since her debut at Under-14 level.
Trinity Rodman was named the 2021 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year after being the youngest player drafted into the National Women’s Soccer League at the age of 18. She’s remarkably quick and talented with a soccer ball at her feet, making her one of the most exciting young talents on the USWNT roster 2023.
Famous U.S. Women's Soccer Players
Both Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan are well known USWNT players for their World Cup success and their advocacy for change in the women’s game.
Abby Wambach is one of the most talented and successful players in recent U.S. women’s soccer history, but none are more famous than all-time superstar Mia Hamm.
Hamm made 276 appearances for the USWNT, scoring 158 goals and leading the team to two U.S. Women’s soccer World Cup wins, including the inaugural tournament in 1991 and the 1999 tournament that was held in the US.
Ranking the Top 10 Best U.S. Women’s Soccer Players of all time
- Christie Pearce (formerly Rampone), Center Back
Born: June 24, 1975
Years Active: 1997 to 2015
Teams: New York Power, Sky Blue FC, MagicJack
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (1999, 2015), Three-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2004, 2008, 2012), National Soccer Hall of Fame
Christie Rampone, born in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is one of the most decorated women’s soccer players in the history of the sport. She won Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008 and 2012, and she’s the third most capped U.S. Women’s player in history.
Rampone appeared in five Women’s World Cup tournaments, winning in both 1999 and 2015. She became the oldest woman to play in a World Cup tournament in 2015, when she came on as a substitute in the final against Japan at age 40.
One of the top U.S. women’s soccer players in history, Rampone was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility in 2021.
- Julie Foudy, Midfielder
Born: Jan. 23, 1971
Years Active: 1988 to 2003
Teams: Sacramento Storm, Tyreso FF, San Diego Spirit
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (1991, 1999), Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2004), National Soccer Hall of Fame
Julie Foudy has done many great things for the women’s game, and her 273 international caps and 45 goals are just the tip of the iceberg.
She joined the women’s USA soccer team as a 16-year-old teenager before she’d even started to play college soccer at Stanford -- making her international debut in July 1988.
Foudy was part of the “Golden Era” of women’s soccer along with the likes of Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, and Brandi Chastain. Her teams won two World Cups and two Olympic Gold medals.
Since retiring, Foudy has served as the president of the Women’s Sports Foundation, and in 2006 co-founded the Julie Foudy Sports Leadership academy, a program built to help develop leadership skills in teenage girls. She was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007 alongside teammate Mia Hamm.
- Hope Solo, Goalkeeper
Born: July 30, 1981
Years Active: 2000 to 2016
Teams: Philadelphia Charge, Kopparbergs, Lyon, Saint Louis Athletica, Atlanta Beat, MagicJack, Seattle Sounders Women, Seattle Reign
Awards: FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2008, 2012), National Soccer Hall of Fame, Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Glove (2011, 2015)
Hope Solo is the record-holder among U.S. goalkeepers for appearances, stars, wins, clean sheets, longest undefeated streak, and more.
The former U.S. goalkeeper played in over 200 games for the USWNT and is without a doubt one of the best American soccer players in the history of the sport. She kept 102 clean sheets in 202 games played for the USA, winning two Olympic gold medals and a Women’s World Cup championship.
Solo is the only player to have won the World Cup Golden Glove award twice -- claiming the title in back-to-back tournaments in Germany in 2011 and Canada in 2015. She is the most decorated goalkeeper in the women’s game.
- Megan Rapinoe, Winger
Born: July 5, 1985
Years Active: 2006 to Present
Teams: Chicago Red Stars, Philadelphia Independence, MagicJack, Sydney FC, Seattle Sounders Women, Lyon, OL Reign
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015, 2019), Olympic Gold Medalist (2012), National Soccer Hall of Fame, FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot (2019), Ballon D’or Feminin (2019)
USWNT winger Megan Rapinoe is approaching 200 appearances for her country, having scored 63 goals so far in her career. She is one of the most recognizable U.S. women’s soccer players, as well as one of the most active voices in encouraging positive change in the women’s game.
Rapinoe has been playing club football for OL Reign since 2013, and was one of the most influential players during her team’s run of success at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. She won both the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot at that tournament and was named the World Cup Final Player of the Match as the front-runner of a star-studded USWNT roster playing at the very top of its game.
In 2019, Rapinoe had a remarkable year, securing the Best FIFA Women's Player and Ballon d'Or Feminin awards within just two years of its inception and becoming the first American to achieve this feat. Teammate Alex Morgan was also a finalist.
- Kristine Lilly, Forward/Midfielder
Born: July 22, 1971
Years Active: 1987 to 2010
Teams: Tyreso FF, Delaware Genies, Boston Breakers, KIF Orebro DFF
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (1991, 1999), Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2004), National Soccer Hall of Fame
Kristine Lilly is the most-capped soccer player in the history of the game. She played for the USWNT from 1987 to 2010, making 354 appearances and scoring 130 goals. She was born in New York City and went on to play college soccer at North Carolina.
Lilly won the NCAA women’s xoccer championship at North Carolina in every season she played and was heralded as one of the best players in the country in both her junior and senior seasons.
She went on to feature in five Women’s World Cups, winning it all in both 1991 and 1999, and is one of the best U.S. women’s soccer players ever. Lilly scored 130 international goals and was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2014.
- Carli Lloyd, Midfielder/Forward
Born: July 16, 1982
Years Active: 1999 to 2021
Teams: Central Jersey Splash, New Brunswick Power, South Jersey Banshees, New Jersey Wildcats, Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC, Atlanta Beat, Western New York Flash, Houston Dash, Manchester City, NY Gotham FC
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015, 2019), Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2008, 2012), National Soccer Hall of Fame, U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2008), FIFA World Player of the Year (2015), 1x FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball Award (2015)
In her prime, Carli Lloyd was one of the very best players in the world. She was a box-to-box midfielder who could support her team both offensively and defensively, and was always the hardest-working player on the field.
Lloyd played 316 games for the USWNT and is one of the most decorated former U.S. Women’s soccer players in the history of the national team. She has scored the fourth-most goals and managed the fifth-most assists in the team's history.
Carli Lloyd won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals with the USWNT, and became the second soccer player ever to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, as the U.S. beat Japan 5-2 in the 2015 World Cup Final. In stylish fashion, Lloyd scored her hat trick within the first 16 minutes of the game and was awarded the Golden Ball award as the best player at the tournament.
- Alex Morgan, Striker
Born: July 2, 1989
Years Active: 2008 to Present
Teams: West Coast FC, California Storm, Pali Blues, Western New York Flash, Seattle Sounders Women, Portland Thorns FC, Orlando Pride, Lyon, Tottenham Hotspur, San Diego Wave
Awards: Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015, 2019), Olympic Gold Medalist (2012), Two-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2012, 2018)
Alex Morgan has played over 200 games for the USWNT, scoring 121 goals as of 2023. She was a key member of the international team that won two World Cups in 2015 and 2019, as well as winning Olympic gold in London in 2012.
Morgan has contributed clutch goals in big tournaments on multiple occasions, including the 2015 World Cup semifinal against Canada, the 2016 Olympic semifinal -- also against Canada -- and multiple goals at the 2012 Olympics in London.
The U.S. striker is one of the most recognized U.S. Soccer players in history, empowering young female athletes to follow in her footsteps. She has won three ESPY awards, including Best Female Athlete and two Best Team, as well as being nominated for the Best Breakthrough Athlete in 2012.
Morgan is one of the best strikers that U.S. Soccer has ever seen, currently ranking fifth all time with 121 goals. She appeared on the U.S. cover of copies of the video game FIFA 16 alongside Lionel Messi, being one of the first women featured on the cover of the game.
- Abby Wambach, Midfielder/Forward
Born: June 2, 1980
Years Active: 2001 to 2015
Teams: Washington Freedom, Ajax America Women, MagicJack, Western New York Flash
Awards: FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (2015), 2-time Olympic Gold Medalist (2004, 2012), Six-time U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year (2003, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013), FIFA World Player of the Year (2012), National Soccer Hall of Fame
Abby Wambach was a superstar in her era and holds the record for the most career goals scored for the U.S. Women's National team. She was part of the “Golden Era” of U.S. soccer that featured what was perhaps the most talented USWNT lineup in national team history.
She led the frontline as a forward in four World Cups, winning the tournament in 2015, as well as helping the U.S. to two Olympic Gold Medals in 2004 in Athens and 2012 in London.
Wambach was born in Rochester, N.Y., and played college soccer for the Florida Gators before going on to a professional club career in which she scored 75 domestic goals. She was named the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year six times during her career, and in 2011 became the first soccer player -- male or female -- to be named the AP Athlete of the Year.
One of Wambach’s most memorable moments came in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup, when she scored a diving header against Brazil to bring the U.S. level and help the Americans eventually progress in the tournament. She retired in 2015 following the USWNT victory tour, which consisted of 10 games after the 2015 World Cup tournament success. She is considered one of the best USWNT players in history.
- Michelle Akers, Striker/Midfielder
Born: Feb. 1, 1966
Years Active: 1985-2000
Teams: Tyreso FF, Orlando Lions Women
Awards: 2002 FIFA Female Player of the Century, FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (1991, 1999), Olympic Gold Medalist (1996), National Soccer Hall of Fame, FIFA World Cup Golden Shoe (1991)
Michelle Akers was a member of the very first USWNT squad, and while she was unable to play in the inaugural game due to an ankle injury, she did score the national team's first-ever goal in its second game, a 2-2 tie with Denmark.
Akers went on to become one of the top U.S. women’s soccer players in history, winning the Golden Shoe at the inaugural World Cup tournament in 1991. She scored 10 goals at the tournament. including five in a single game, leading the Americans to their first World Cup tournament victory. She was still an integral part of the team when they won the tournament again in 1999, retiring shortly afterwards.
The former U.S. striker and midfielder played during an era when there were very limited opportunities in club soccer for women. She played for Swedish club Tyreso FF for three seasons, but most of her soccer career centered on the Women’s National Team.
She was named the FIFA Female Player of the Decade in 2002, shortly after her retirement. She was unstoppable when she was at her best, and opposition defenders would often resort to foul play as the only way to slow her down. She was subjected to so many dangerous tackles and so much aggressive defending that she dropped into midfield to try and reduce the frequency of it.
Akers is one of the all-time great retired U.S. Women’s Soccer players, and one of the best female soccer players ever. She was named to the FIFA 100 list by Pele as one of the 125 greatest living soccer players, alongside U.S. teammate and soccer legend Mia Hamm.
- Mia Hamm, Striker/Midfielder
Born: Feb. 1, 1966
Years Active: 1987 to 2004
Teams: Washington Freedom
Awards: Five-time US Soccer Female Athlete of the Year (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998), Two-time FIFA Women’s World Cup Champion (1991, 1999), Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist (1996, 2004), National Soccer Hall of Fame, Two-time FIFA World Player of the Year (2001, 2002), Two-time Sportswoman of the Year (1997, 1999)
There is no doubt about who is the greatest U.S. Women’s soccer player of all time. Mia Hamm was named the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year five years in a row, as well as winning three ESPY Awards that included Soccer Player of the Year and Female Athlete of the Year.
Hamm played in four World Cup tournaments and helped lead the team to the tournament trophy in both 1991 and 1999. She also won two Olympic gold medals and played in a total of 276 games for the USWNT, scoring 158 goals in the process.
Hamm, born in Selma, Ala., is considered the most influential female soccer player in history. She won four NCAA D1 Soccer National Championships at UNC between 1989 and 1993, scoring 105 goals in just 95 games.
Her list of accolades is amazing, and she was named to the FIFA 100 list along with Michelle Akers. The list was influenced by Pele and highlighted the 125 greatest living soccer players. She was a fast, talented, tricky striker, who kept such close control of a soccer ball that she often appeared unstoppable.
Hamm is now a co-founder of Los Angeles FC, an ambassador for FC Barcelona and on the board of directors for AS Roma. She has done incredible things for women’s soccer and continues to influence the sport today. Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
Parameters for Ranking
This list of female soccer players has been ranked based on the players’ achievements with the national team. Things such as the USWNT FIFA Women’s World Cup games results and achievements have been taken into consideration, as well as tournament victories, individual achievements and goals and assists.
National recognition, including awards such as U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year and other accolades, has been factored into the ranking.