The U.S. women's national soccer team went undefeated in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, capping off back-to-back World Cup titles with a 2-0 win against the Netherlands, but the team's dominance was at times overshadowed by criticism and controversy, most notably involving stars Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe and head coach Jill Ellis.
Morgan's tea-sipping celebration after scoring against England, Rapinoe saying the team would not accept an invitation to visit President Trump at the White House and the team's
historic 13-0 victory against Thailand
all drew attention.
The end result of everything the team went through was a championship. Former national team member and Silver Spring, Md., native Joanna Lohman commended the group on staying focused and together throughout the World Cup.
"My thought is, 'Well, if they're too arrogant and people are upset, well, someone beat them,' and no one was able to beat them," Lohman said on
Glenn Clark Radio
July 8. "They answered everything on the field. ... To stay at the top you have to have a little bit of arrogance. I think you see that with men's players."
Lohman, 37, earned seven caps as a member of the women's national team from 2001-2007. She watches the team play each year and was proud of the performance of not only the players on the field but also of Ellis' coaching.
Ellis has been the team's head coach since its World Cup victory in 2015. The team's quarterfinal loss in the 2016 Olympics, however, was the first time the country didn't reach the gold-medal game, and she's garnered heavy criticism for her tactics and lineups ever since.
"I thought she did an amazing job. I think all the criticism she's faced she definitely answered during the World Cup," Lohman said. "When you stand at the forefront of anything you're going to face resistance. That's just the way that it is. I commend her for her coaching. ... I felt like she did everything perfectly."
The depth of the program was a big reason for the team's success this year, and goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher was a shining example of that. Naeher filled the shoes of U.S. soccer legend Hope Solo, who retired from national play after the 2016 Olympics. Naeher didn't miss a beat and had a handful of clutch saves in a pair of tightly-contested 2-1 victories against France and England.
Lohman got to know Naeher during the past few years and was excited for her replace Solo.
"[Naeher is] not someone who likes attention and she's not someone who likes to be thrust into the limelight. I am sure [comparing her to Solo] did not make her feel comfortable," said Lohman, who, like Naeher, attended Penn State. "Knowing her, she tried to keep her head down and just do her job, and that's exactly what she did."
With the future of stars like Carli Lloyd, 36, and Rapinoe, 34, unclear, that depth will continue to be beneficial.
"[The U.S.] could field two teams and win the World Cup. That's just how much talent they have," Lohman said. "You have to evolve as a group, as a country, as a federation. You try to pay respect to the players that had gotten you to that point ... but we have to move forward."
Having played in Women's Professional Soccer, the W-League and the National Women's Soccer League, Lohman understands the struggles of the women's game to keep audience's interests outside of international competition. Rapinoe and her teammates stayed true to themselves while not only promoting the women's game and the increased competition across the board, according to Lohman, but also by advocating for equal pay and opportunities as the men's teams.
"We've made it through two failed leagues, and [the NWSL] has made it longer than any one previous. I think we're finally hitting a point where it's sustainable, but it's so important for people to come out to games and to watch the product that's being put out on the field," she said. "I'm really hoping that this is just the beginning and also a tipping point for women's sports around the world that people will listen and will see that women's sports are just as deserving and worthy of equal funding as the men's."
Photo Credit: ISI Photos
To hear more from Lohman, listen to the full interview here: