They just won the World Cup, but for these brilliant women their greatest challenge lies ahead.
The United States are World Cup champions. It’s a thrilling sentence to type. These women had it all — panache, charm and grit. They’ve earned their ticket tape parade no doubt. But as with any great triumph the question is posed. What’s next?
Despite all the SI covers, White House invites from the President and record television ratings, people, the casual fan will move on. Quick. Not to any fault of these wonderful women, but because our society’s bottomless appetite for the latest winner rages on.
The medals are worn. Endorsement deals are signed. Trophies are clicked shut into display cases and the hustle of being a professional women’s soccer player returns. For some it’s jetting overseas. For most it’s back to the NWSL.
Now, there’s a new pressure on these women. A pressure that extends beyond their World Cup performance. It’s the pressure to grow the NWSL. A pressure to leave a legacy of professional hope for the next generation of girls. Every autograph, every youtube channel, every interview counts. Each can be a step pushing the NWSL into the next season. The league too has its part to play. Secure TV money and market the hell out of each team. It’s a constant door to door sales pitch. But it’s what’s demanded to eat.
Winning a third World Cup was a stunning achievement for these women. Making the NWSL relevant could be an even greater one.