By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer
The U.S. Women’s National Team faced off against England in a friendly this past Friday, hailing a momentous day for women’s soccer that reached beyond the 2-1 score line. It is no lie that the prominence of women’s soccer is growing throughout the world and this match held just as much importance outside of the 90-minutes of play as it did inside.
Despite the obvious rivalry, this game stood for something bigger. It was about women coming together in solidarity to display to the world that women can play soccer, and they can do it well despite the odds.
When the face off at the iconic Wembley Stadium was first announced in August, general admission tickets sold out within 24 hours. The statement of a match up was released two days after England claimed the title of 2022 UEFA European Champions, and fans were eager to see these two powerhouse teams go head-to-head.
76,893 spectators packed the stands on Friday, the highest attended USWNT friendly on record. Thousands of eyes watched as household names, both American and English, took the field.
With a recent independent investigation uncovering systemic abuse occurring in women’s professional soccer, this match was timely. Both nations took this opportunity to stand in unity against the wrongdoings that have occurred across the National Women’s Soccer League. Prior to the match, the players displayed their solidarity by gathering behind a banner that read “protect the players.” The athletes also wore teal armbands, the color of survivors of sexual abuse and violence.
After 45 minutes of play, the England side was joined on the pitch by some of England’s former players to commemorate the 50-year anniversary of the Lioness program.
In 1921, the Football Association banned women’s professional soccer in England. In 1972, the women’s program was revived. Just five decades later, the three lion crests were seen lifting a silver trophy on the European stage.
The creased smiles on the older Lioness’ faces told it all. This was something special.
After the conclusion of the match up, former U.S. soccer star Brandi Chastain and England’s iconic striker Chloe Kelly swapped jerseys. Kelly ripped off her jersey after scoring the winning goal in overtime at the Euros finals mirroring Chastain’s 1999 World Cup celebration. What a cool full circle moment.
As far as the score line, what does it really matter? Some U.S. fans are freaking out because it was the first loss for the American team in 14 months. Relax. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is still nine months away. This game displayed to the world that women’s soccer is on the rise.