Ranking the 8 USWNT Women's World Cup teams
The USWNT World Cup reputation is outstanding, now four time World Champions and always a contender. Ranking the 8 USWNT teams in FIFA Women’s World Cup history.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup marks an opportunity for the USWNT to complete the three-peat having won the last two World Cup tournaments in 2015 and 2019. Expectations are high, and before the tournament gets going we wanted to take a look back at each of their eight World Cup squads so far.
So, which is the best US Women’s soccer team of all time? Let’s find out.
Make sure to explore our other World Cup sections, including the favorite to win Women’s World Cup, Women’s World cup sleepers, odds to win Women’s World Cup and the 10 Best FIFA Women’s World Cup Group Games To Watch.
U.S. Women’s World Cup History
The United States Women’s National Soccer team is the most successful international team in women’s World Cup history. Over the years they have dominated the tournament on multiple occasions and made it to five finals in eight tournaments.
The USWNT game stats and performances at the World Cup are quite outrageous. They have never finished lower than third in any of the eight World Cups.
How many World Cups has the US Women’s team won?
The U.S. Women’s soccer team has won the World Cup four times since the first tournament in 1991. There have been eight World Cup tournaments, with the first being the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup held in China, where the USA beat Norway in the final to claim the first tournament trophy.
Since then, they have won three more in 1999, 2015 and 2019. And they will go into the 2023 tournament with the intention of completing the three-peat for the first time ever in World Cup history, men’s or women’s.
Which USWNT is the best US Women’s World Cup team of all time?
The best US Women's World Cup team of all time is considered to be the 2019 USWNT. Their starting lineup featured Naeher, Sauerbrunn, O'Hara, Dahlkemper, Dunn, Mewis, Ertz, Lavelle, Morgan, Rapinoe, and Heath.
Ranking the 8 United States Women’s National Soccer Teams in FIFA Women’s World Cup History
- USWNT 2007
Starting Lineup: Scurry, Dalmy, Rampone, Whitehall, O’Reilly, Wagner, Osborne, Lilly (Captain), Lopez, Chalupny, Wambach
World Cup Results: 2-2 North Korea, 2-0 Sweden, 1-0 Nigeria (Group Stage Games), 3-0 England (QF), 0-4 Brazil (SF Eliminated), 4-1 Norway (Third Place Playoff)
The 2007 USWNT struggled through the group stage, and the warning signs were there when they drew the first game of the competition against North Korea.
Abby Wambach was the star of the show and led the team from the front, but the roster was missing a couple of playmakers and it was evident at the World Cup that they weren’t as strong as they had been in years past.
After topping the group despite scoring just four goals and dropping points against North Korea, they beat England 3-0 in the quarter finals before meeting their fate against Brazil in the semis.
Marta and the Brazil squad dealt the USWNT players their worst defeat in women’s soccer World Cup history, losing 4-0, and they’d been simply outclassed for almost 90 minutes.
- USWNT 2003
Starting Lineup: Scurry, Rampone, Whitehill, Fawcett, Markgraf, Boxx, Foudy (Captain), Lilly, Hamm, Parlow Cone, Wambach
World Cup Results: 3-1 Sweden, 5-0 Nigeria, 3-0 North Korea (Group Stage Games), 1-0 Norway (QF), 0-3 Germany (SF Eliminated), 3-1 Canada (Third Place Playoff)
The 2003 team fell short of their goal, and Abby Wambach and captain Julie Foudy have openly discussed the bitter disappointment they experienced after losing to Germany in the semi-final that day.
The USWNT games in the group stage were fairly comfortable, and they just about snuck past Norway in the quarter final before meeting Germany. The US was once again hosting the World Cup, but this time it was a last-minute decision due to the SARS outbreak in China. There was pressure to put on a show and recreate the atmosphere of 1999.
The players had also found out right before the tournament that their pro league in the USA was suspending operations, and the injuries and distractions just proved to be too much for the USWNT that day against Germany.
- USWNT 1995
Starting Lineup: Scurry, Staples Bryan, Overbeck, Hamilton, Fawcett, Foudy, Lilly, Venturini, Hamm, Gabarra, Milbrett
World Cup Results: 3-3 China, 2-0 Denmark, 4-1 Australia (Group Stage Games), 4-0 Japan (QF), 0-1 Norway (SF), 2-0 China (Third Place Playoff)
The USWNT roster in 1995 went head to head with the eventual champions Norway in the semi final but suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss, ending their hopes of defending their title in the final.
The 1995 campaign got started with a 3-3 draw against China, who were a highly competitive team at the time. They then took down Denmark and Australia to advance in first place in the group, and thrashed Japan 4-0 in the quarter final with two goals from Kristine Lilly and one each for Tiffeny Milbrett and Tisha Venturini.
Unfortunately, Norway meant the end of the road for the USWNT. While they were competitive that year, Norway was just better, with Ann Kristin Aarones and Hege Riise finishing first and second in the Golden Shoe rankings, combining for 11 total goals.
- USWNT 2011
Starting Lineup: Solo, Rampone, Le Peilbet, Blaire Kreiger, Van Hollebeke, Boxx, O’Reilly, Lloyd, Rapinoe, Holiday, Wambach
World Cup Results: 2-0 North Korea, 3-0 Colombia, 1-2 Sweden (Group Stage Games), 2-2 Brazil (QF, USA Won 5-3 on PKs), 3-1 France (SF), 2-2 Japan (Lost 3-1 on PKs in Final)
The 2011 U.S. Women’s soccer tournament looked to be the one that broke the cold streak, having suffered defeats in 2003 and 2007 in the semi final.
Finally, the USWNT overcame that barrier when they defeated France 3-1 thanks to goals from Lauren Chaney, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, which set up a final against Japan.
The USA held the lead in the game twice, but Japan managed to equalize in the 81st minute, forcing extra time. After taking a 2-1 lead in extra time with Abby Wambach's goal, the USWNT once again lost their advantage with less than five minutes to play.
Japan were fortunate to reach a penalty shootout, and they took the lead when all three of the US's first spot-kick takers missed. Saki Kumagai scored the tournament-winning penalty past Hope Solo, resulting in a crushing defeat for the US at the last moment.
The USWNT roster in 2011 was likely the most talented up until that point in their history, with Abby Wambach's goal in extra time breaking the US Women’s soccer record for World Cup goals.
Wambach still stands at the top of the US women’s World Cup records for goals at the tournament with 14.
- USWNT 1991
Starting Lineup: Harvey, Overbeck, Hamilton, Higgins, Foudy, Lilly, Fawcett, Heinrichs, Hamm, Akers, Jennings
World Cup Results: 3-2 Sweden, 5-0 Brazil, 3-0 Japan (Group Stage Games), 7-0 Chinese Taipei (QF), 5-2 Germany (SF), 2-1 Norway (Final)
The very first Women’s World Cup was a 12-team tournament and marked the first of the USWNT World Cup wins. At that time, the women's game was still in its early stages of growth, and even Major League Soccer for men had not yet been established in America.
The squad consisted of impressive firepower upfront with Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers, who dominated the tournament in front of goal scoring 10 and winning the Golden Shoe.
Two of those goals came in the final, with Akers grabbing both goals as the USWNT defeated Norway 2-1 to claim the World Cup.
Ranking the first World Cup winning squad in fourth place is not necessarily a knock on the quality of the team, but more of a nod to the fact that the tournament was a lot smaller at the time, and has since grown from 12 to 24 teams, and will be 32 for the very first time at the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
- USWNT 2015
Starting Lineup: Solo, Sauerbrunn, Blaire Krieger, Ertz, Klingenberg, Lloyd, Holiday, Paige Gautrat, Rapinoe, Heath, Morgan
World Cup Results: 3-1 Australia, 0-0 Sweden, 1-0 Nigeria (Group Stage Games), 2-0 Colombia (R16), 1-0 China (QF), 2-0 Germany (SF), 5-2 Japan (Final)
The 2015 USWNT entered the World Cup ranked number two in the women’s FIFA rankings, second only to Germany. The 2015 World Cup saw the women’s tournament expand to 24 teams, presenting a tougher challenge than ever before to make it all the way to the final.
It wasn’t the most dominant group stage performance from the USWNT, winning against Australia in the opener before slow performances against both Sweden and Nigeria, scoring only one goal across the two games.
Despite a slightly underwhelming group stage the US still progressed through the group in first place, and then pushed their way past both Colombia and China in the knockout rounds to set up a 1 vs 2 game against Germany in the semi final.
The US shut Germany out and scored two second half goals in a very tense matchup to advance to the final. In a rematch with Japan, Carli Lloyd scored a hat trick in a redemption game after missing her penalty in the 2011 final, including a sweet strike from the halfway line that caught Japan's goalkeeper napping.
The USA won 5-2 in a final that they controlled from the very start, and the roster was getting better with every passing year. The 2015 squad was without a doubt one of the best US Women’s national soccer teams of all time, who got better and better as the tournament went on.
- USWNT 1999
Starting Lineup: Scurry, Overbeck, Fawcett, Markgraf, Chastain, Akers, Foudy, Parlow Cone, Hamm, Lilly, Milbrett
World Cup Results: 3-0 Denmark, 7-1 Nigeria, 3-0 North Korea (Group Stage Games), 3-2 Germany (QF), 2-0 Brazil (SF), 0-0 Norway (USWNT Won 5-4 on Penalties)
The USA hosted the Women’s World Cup in 1999 for the very first time, and the final was set to be played at the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. The USWNT that year featured many legendary women’s soccer players, including Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Michelle Akers and more.
The US fired their way through the group stage, scoring 13 goals in three games including a dominant 7-1 win over Nigeria in a game that was 6-1 by half time. They would then fight their way through two high power teams in Germany and Brazil in the knockout rounds to make the final on home soil.
Waiting for them in Pasadena was China, a team that had just crushed the defending world champions Norway 5-0 in the semi final, and a team the US had faced in the 1996 Olympics Gold medal match, which the US had won 2-1.
The final was filled with tension as the two teams nullified each other's efforts for the entire 90 minutes and extra time, all within the backdrop of a magnificent crowd at the Rose Bowl. The final would be decided by penalties, and the USA were ready for it.
The US were flawless from the penalty spot, and goalkeeper Brianna Scurry saved the third Chinese penalty from Liu Ying to give the US the advantage. Brandi Chastain took the fifth spot-kick, with a chance to secure victory over China and claim the World Cup on home soil. With composure, she calmly placed her penalty into the corner before falling to her knees, creating an iconic image in women's soccer that is cherished to this day.
1999 is one of the great tournaments because of the way in which it propelled the women’s game. The competition garnered significant interest, achieving impressive television ratings and merch sales, leading to tremendous growth in the women's game thereafter.
- USWNT 2019
Starting Lineup: Naeher, Sauerbrunn, O’Hara, Dahlkemper, Dunn, Mewis, Ertz, Lavelle, Morgan, Rapinoe, Heath
World Cup Results: 13-0 Thailand, 3-0 Chile, 2-0 Sweden (Group Stage Games), 2-1 Spain (R16), 2-1 France (QF), 2-1 England (SF), 2-0 Netherlands (Final)
It’s scary to believe that the USWNT is getting better and better with each passing year considering the fact that they’ve already won four World Cups and are looking to complete the three-peat in 2023.
The U.S. Women’s soccer players in 2019 came out and made a statement with a 13-0 drubbing over Thailand to kick off the competition. Alex Morgan, one of the most famous women’s soccer players of a generation scored five goals in that game, and it was clear the USWNT was out to defend its World Cup trophy.
In the knockouts the USWNT had to run the gauntlet on four of Europe’s most prolific soccer nations. In the first match against Spain, Megan Rapinoe scored two penalties, leading the US to a 2-1 victory and advancing them in the tournament. In the next round, Rapinoe once again excelled, scoring two goals to defeat France.
The US met England in the semi final, and again won 2-1 thanks to goals from Christen Press and Alex Morgan, forcing a final against the Netherlands. The USWNT was ranked number one in the world coming into the tournament, and had taken down 13th ranked Spain, 4th ranked France, who were hosting the tournament, and 3rd ranked England.
The Netherlands, ranked 8th, put up a tough fight in the final, and once again, it was Megan Rapinoe who broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.
Without a doubt that 2019 team is one of the greatest women’s national soccer teams of all time, if not the greatest. They had star power from the back all the way to the front. Rapinoe won the Golden Ball and the Golden Boot, scoring six goals to match the tally of Alex Morgan, and the two are now ranked first and second in the US women’s World Cup records for goals scored in the tournament.
Parameters for Rankings
These USWNT squads have been ranked based on their dominance at the World Cup in combination with the outcome of the tournament.
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