The United States enter this Summer’s World Cup as defending champions and world number 1. They are in the same group as Sweden, joined by 34th ranked Thailand and 39th ranked Chile. The NWSL is continuing to offer a place for women to play professionally in the US, but many other nations seem to be “catching up” in terms of development and talent in women’s soccer. The United States will not have an easy time defending their title.
The United States is not known for having a strong men’s team, but they currently rank a respectable 25th in the world. However, they are a very mediocre 51st in the gender gap index and 78th in women’s participation in government. None of these rankings seem to suggest that the USWNT would be the preeminent world power. However, they are also backed by the number 3 population in the world and the 19th highest GDP Per Capita (and largest GDP). They also rank 12th for economic freedom and 5th for average level of education. The United Staes may not be a classic case of a nation setup for women’s soccer success, but their respectable scores on the 3 categories found to be important, combined with the fact that they are a very large, wealthy and sports crazy country, help to explain their dominance in women’s soccer.