Two-time World Cup champion Alex Morgan knew there was something special about the 2019 U.S. women’s national soccer team – its voice.
The 2019 roster, which was without Abby Wambach and Hope Solo but gained names like Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn, quickly delivered record TV ratings. Their comments and actions off the field, however, were what sent them to an unprecedented level of fame.
The players of the USWNT this year were targets of criticism from fans and analysts for running up scores and celebrating goals. United States President Donald Trump even weighed in, sparking a feud with Morgan’s co-captain, Megan Rapinoe, mid-tournament over her comments regarding the traditional White House championship visit and her protests during the national anthem.
That deluge of backlash would be difficult for anyone to weather, but Morgan believes that growth between the 2015 World Cup and this year’s iteration helped to prepare the 2019 team.
“In 2015, we realized that we had the microphone but we were still new at learning how to use it,” she told AOL.com on behalf of DICK’S Sporting Goods. “I think we grew into that in the last four years.”
Every athlete faces criticism at one point or another. It’s the nature of the job. But for female athletes, the comments can quickly cross a line.
Even those at the highest level face backlash, including U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team players, who are fighting to receive pay equal to that of their male counterparts, and Serena Williams, who was recently asked if she would put aside her celebrity and fight for equality to focus more on tennis.
As trying as it can be at times, former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn said that women in sports – including the USWNT and Williams – can best silence their critics by simply continuing to win.
“Women just need to keep doing what they’re doing,” Vonn told AOL.com courtesy of Red Bull. “Keep working hard and keep winning. That’s the best way to have your voice be heard. Silence your haters with success.”
The United States Women’s National Team may be publicly feuding with the sitting president, but a former commander in chief has taken to Twitter to show his support for the champions.
Former President Barack Obama posted a photo and a heartfelt message to the World Cup winners on Wednesday as they paraded through the streets of New York City.
Obama showed off a personalized team jersey and praised the players “for being such a strong inspiration to women and girls – and everybody – all across the country.”
The women of the United States National Soccer Team certainly know how to have a good time.
Since their World Cup victory, the players have been hopping from celebration to celebration, with their medals, trophies and plenty of alcohol in tow.
On Wednesday, the team’s celebratory parade rolled through the streets of Lower Manhattan – and our favorite rowdy athletes put on quite a show for their fans both in person and on social media.
Stars including Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Ali Krieger took to Instagram to post photos and videos from the party on wheels. As has become the norm for these players, there was plenty of singing, dancing and champagne to go around.
Crystal Dunn was the final player cut from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team prior to the 2015 World Cup.
The news was a painful blow to Dunn, who watched from home as the U.S. went on to win the tournament for the third time.
“I was in a low, low place,” she told AOL.com of the days following the decision.
The forward didn’t let her sadness keep her down, though. She still had a season to play with the North Carolina Courage and preparations to make for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“I went out and really tried to get back to the basics and perform for my teammates,” Dunn said. “It was important for me to just reset and regroup.”
In the United States in 2019, the average woman makes roughly 80 cents to the dollar of her male counterpart.
Such a discrepancy is notable in any career path, but it’s often most egregious in sports, where thousands or even millions of dollars are in play for athletes at the top of their game.
That’s not just referencing the contracts bordering on half a billion dollars that were recently handed out in Major League Baseball. Even soccer, one of the world’s most popular sports, sees a massive disparity between pay for male and female athletes. In fact, men who make the U.S. World Cup roster currently receive a bonus that is $31,250 more than what is given to the women who do the same.
Christen Press, a forward on the United States women’s national soccer team, opened up about how the pay disparity between men and women negatively affects sports — and women everywhere.