The United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) has experienced a seismic shift in FIFA’s world rankings, relinquishing its longstanding grip on the top spot. Surprisingly, the U.S. team now finds itself in third place worldwide, a departure from its customary dominance. This change comes as a result of Sweden’s ascent to the number one position, propelled by their victory over the U.S. in the round of 16 at the 2023 World Cup.
In a remarkable turn of events, this marks the first instance since the introduction of the FIFA rankings in 2003 that the U.S. team has slipped beyond the top two echelons, as reported by Reuters. Spain, the triumphant team in the World Cup, has secured the second position, while England and France complete the prestigious top five.
The USWNT’s fall from the pinnacle follows an underwhelming performance at the World Cup, where their journey concluded earlier than anticipated, contrasting with their triumphs in the 2015 and 2019 editions.
During a gripping encounter with Sweden, the USWNT faced a 5-4 defeat in the penalty shootout, a moment that saw Megan Rapinoe’s penalty soaring over the crossbar. Sweden seized this opportunity, clinching a victory in the match.
The team found itself in the crosshairs of criticism, both during the tournament and in the aftermath, with pundits like Carli Lloyd and Alexi Lalas, as well as former President Donald Trump, voicing their critiques.
In a candid reflection on the team’s preparations, co-captain Lindsey Horan conceded that they had not managed to extract peak performances from every player.
“In the realm of coaching, the challenge lies in how to bring out the best in each individual player through streamlined approaches during the intermittent 10-day camps, without overly complicating matters,” Horan shared on “The RE-CAP Show.”
Horan continued, “While I won’t delve into the minutiae of the past four-year cycle, it’s evident that we fell short of maximizing the potential of each player. Regrettably, not everyone was optimally prepared, and that is something we collectively shoulder.”
In the aftermath of the World Cup exit, coach Vlatko Andonovski opted to step down from his position. Andonovski, who took the helm as head coach in 2019, made this decision in light of the team’s trajectory.