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Women’s Equality Day: 19 Defining Moments in U.S. Women’s Soccer

By Staff, 08/26/21, 10:45AM EDT


The 19th Amendment was officially ratified on August 26, 101 years ago, granting women the right to vote. To celebrate this landmark moment and Women’s Equality Day we’ve put together 19 defining moments in U.S. Women’s Soccer history. Join us in looking back at these accomplishments, while we continue working to carry on this legacy into the present and future of the women’s game.

  • Establishment of Title Nine June 23, 1972
    Title IX is enacted by Congress and is signed into law by President Richard Nixon, prohibiting sex discrimination in any educational program or activity receiving any type of federal financial aid. Ten years later, the first NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament is held as the University of North Carolina claims a 1-0 victory against the University of Central Florida.
  • First USWNT Match August 18, 1985
    Italy 1, United States 0
    The first official game in United States Women’s National Team history took place in the 1995 Mundialito – the precursor to the FIFA Women’s World Cup – in Italy, where the side fell to the hosts in Jesolo, Italy. Three days later, Michelle Akers and Emily Pickering scored the first goals in the team’s history in a 2-2 draw with Denmark.
  • Kristine Lilly Makes USWNT Debut August 3, 1987
    United States 2, China 0
    Kristine Lilly became the second-youngest player to debut for the United States Women’s National Team when she started against China on Aug. 3, 1987, at the age of 16 years, 12 days. Twenty-three years later, Lilly made her 354th and final USWNT appearance, the most in international soccer history, while also being the youngest and oldest player to score in the program’s history.
  • 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup November 30, 1991
    United States 2, Norway 1
    The United States Women’s National Team won the first official FIFA Women’s World Cup as Michelle Akers scored both goals, including the winner with 12 minutes to go at Tianhe Stadium, Guangzhou, China.
  • 1996 Summer Olympics August 1, 1996
    United States 2, China 1
    Women’s Soccer was introduced as an official Olympic sport in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and the United States Women’s National Team was the first gold medalist as it defeated China in the final at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. Shannon MacMillan – her third goal of the tournament – and Tiffany Milbrett scored for the United States before a capacity 76,489 stadium.
  • April Heinreichs Inducted into National Soccer HOF 1998
    The captain of the U.S. Women’s National Team that claimed the 1991 FIFA Women’s World Cup, April Heinreichs was the first woman inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Heinreichs scored 37 goals in 47 games, and later coached the team to the Gold Medal at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
  • 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup July 10, 1999
    United States 0, China 0 (U.S. wins 5-4 in Penalty Shootout)
    The United States Women’s National Team becomes a national phenomenon as the country hosted the 1999 FIFA World Cup. The team claimed its second title after defeating China in a penalty shootout that saw Brianna Scurry and Brandi Chastain record decisive moments. The attendance of 90,185 for the Final at the Rose Bowl remains the highest in the tournament’s history.
  • 2004 Summer Olympics August 26, 2004
    United States 2, Brazil 1
    Mia Hamm, Joy Fawcett, and Julie Foudy announced that their final tournament would be the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The final match against Brazil served as a bridge between the old and new generations in Team USA's soccer history. As legendary USWNT players ended their careers, the game-winning goal was scored by a young new player named Abby Wambach, who would go on to lead the next generation of American soccer stars.
  • 2008 Summer Olympics August 21, 2008
    United States 1, Brazil 0
    The United States Women’s National Team won its third Olympic Gold Medal as Carli Lloyd scored the game-winning goal in the 96th minute for the United States at the 2008 Summer Olympics held in Beijing, China.
  • 2009 Heisman Humanitarian Award 2009
    United States Women’s Soccer Team alumni Mia Hamm won the 2009 Heisman Humanitarian Award for her work with the Mia Hamm Foundation, which serves to raise funds and awareness for families needing marrow or cord blood transplants in addition to continuing to provide growth opportunities for young women in sports.
  • 2012 Summer Olympics August 6, 2012
    United States 4, Canada 3 (AET)
    In a game described as one of the greatest in international soccer history, the United States Women’s National Team defeats Canada 4-3 on a goal in the third minute of stoppage time in extra time through Alex Morgan at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Three days later, the U.S. wins a historic third gold medal with a 2-1 victory against Japan as Carli Lloyd scores both goals.
  • 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup July 5, 2015
    United States 5, Japan 2
    After a 16-year drought, the United States Women’s National Team becomes the first three-time FIFA Women’s World Cup champion after defeating Japan in a 5-2 victory, which saw Carli Lloyd net the fastest hat trick in Women’s World Cup history when she scored her third of the game on a goal from just inside the halfway line.
  • 2015 Sports Illustrated Magazine Cover 2015
    Sports Illustrated honors of the USWNT with 25 unique magazine covers after the team secured its third Women’s World Cup title after a 16-year drought.
  • Launch of SheBelieves Cup March 3, 2016
    The 2016 SheBelieves Cup was the inaugural edition of the annual event, an invitational women's football tournament held in the United States. The United States Women’s National Team took home the first place trophy after defeating Germany in a 2-1 victory.
  • Aly Wagner Joins the Booth June 15, 2018
    Former United States Women’s National team member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Aly Wagner – now member of the ownership group of USL Championship and W League club Queensboro FC – made history as the first woman to call a Men’s World Cup game on U.S. television.
  • 2019 Commemorative Rose Bowl Statue 2019
    The 1999 United States Women’s World Cup champions were honored on the 20th anniversary with a statue of Brandi Chastain in front of the iconic Rose Bowl, which served as the location of the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.
  • 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup July 7, 2019
    United States 2, The Netherlands 0
    The United States entered the 2019 Women’s World Cup as defending champion after winning the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada. The team successfully defended their title with a 2–0 victory against the Netherlands in the final in Lyon, France. In doing so, the team secured its record-breaking fourth title and became the second nation, after Germany, to have successfully retained the title.
  • 2019 ESPY Awards 2019
    The United States Women’s National Team took home the ESPY Award for Best Team of the Year while Alex Morgan also took home an individual ESPY for Best Female Athlete of the Year.
  • Equal Pay Day March 24, 2021
    United States Women’s National Team players Megan Rapinoe and Midge Purce appear before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to advocate for gender inequity in sport and their team's continued fight for fair compensation

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