The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women who Changed Soccer

The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women who Changed Soccer

The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team has won three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals, set record TV ratings, drawn massive crowds, earned huge revenues for FIFA and U.S. Soccer, and helped to redefine the place of women in sports. But despite their dominance, and their rosters of superstar players, they’ve endured striking inequality: low pay, poor playing condition...

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Title:The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women who Changed Soccer
Author:Caitlin Murray
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Edition Language:English

The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women who Changed Soccer Reviews

  • Rachel

    I received this book as an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

    I have played soccer since I was in first grade and still play on a recreational league today. I remember going to see Mia Hamm play and how amazing it was to watch the team. When I saw this book I jumped right on the chance to read it; to read what it took for women to make it soccer.

    This book was full of information about how the National Team was formed to how it

    I received this book as an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

    I have played soccer since I was in first grade and still play on a recreational league today. I remember going to see Mia Hamm play and how amazing it was to watch the team. When I saw this book I jumped right on the chance to read it; to read what it took for women to make it soccer.

    This book was full of information about how the National Team was formed to how it and the women’s soccer league is now. However, it didn’t feel like I was reading a history book, instead it was like reading a story. I have watched the World Cup games and the Olympic games, but I don’t remember everything about it, not even what games they have won during the competitions. So reading it was just as exciting as if I was watching it going omg do they win what is going to happen?! So it was a lot of fun to read.

    The part about women’s soccer that I never realized is that when I was younger if my dream had been to be a professional soccer player it probably wouldn’t have happened. I had no idea how much the women have gone through to get where they have been. They were never treated as well as the men and some couldn’t continue to play because they hardly got paid and had to quit their dream. But there are those that persisted and worked hard to get women’s soccer where it is today.

    This book did a great job of giving the background on players, the struggles of forming a women’s league, the struggles that the team themselves had, and just overall information that is not out there. The book isn’t dry, the writing is well done, there are parts that have quotes from the women who have been on the National Team and who are still on the National Team. So you get different points of view.

    I definitely recommend this book and am so glad I had the opportunity to read it.

  • Lance

    In 1999, a revolution occurred in not only women’s soccer, but for women’s sports in general. The United States women’s national team captured the World Cup in front of packed stadiums across the country, capped off by a thrilling win on penalty kicks in the Rose Bowl against China. While this was the first tourney in which many people saw the team, this was not the beginning of the women’s national team, nor would the team rest on its laurels. The entire history of the team, from the humble beg

    In 1999, a revolution occurred in not only women’s soccer, but for women’s sports in general. The United States women’s national team captured the World Cup in front of packed stadiums across the country, capped off by a thrilling win on penalty kicks in the Rose Bowl against China. While this was the first tourney in which many people saw the team, this was not the beginning of the women’s national team, nor would the team rest on its laurels. The entire history of the team, from the humble beginnings in 1985 to the team looking to defend its title in the 2019 World Cup, is captured in this excellent book by Caitlin Murray.

    While Murray starts the book with the 1999 team and its watershed victory, her research goes back further to the beginnings of the team 14 years earlier. However, more than the early history of the team, the best research and writing is about what the team endured after 1999, when it was struggling to earn equal pay, equipment and facilities to that of the US men’s national team. It should be noted that the men have not come close to matching the success of the women on the field, having never won a World Cup and failing to quality for the tourney in 2018. In this context, it is often asked why the men’s team is being paid more for less success.

    Interviews with scores of players, coaches and team officials make the book a complete accounting of the teams. Controversy is not shied away from – the legal and on-field struggles of goalie Hope Solo is just one example of how the not-so-good times are covered as well as the success. On them, there is plenty to cover there as well, even when the team was losing veteran players and getting younger, having coaching changes which would mean different styles of play and also tense contract negotiations. Whatever information a reader wants to find on this team, it will be found in this book.

    The other theme of the book is to illustrate the struggles of organizing a professional women’s soccer league. Currently, the US Soccer Federation is making its third attempt at fielding a league, this time with much assistance from the men’s professional league in the United States, Major League Soccer. Again, like with the other topics, Murray writes about this from a position of knowledge and the reader will learn a great deal about women’s professional soccer in the United States.

    Given all of this information, the book is also an easy, fast read. The pages will be turning quickly as the reader absorbs as much as he or she can about the history of the most successful soccer team in the United States.

    I wish to thank Abrams Press for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Matt

    The premier women’s national team in the world and the gold standard all are judged upon, saved soccer in the United States not that US Soccer cares to pay them for it.

    by Caitlin Murray reveals the struggles and triumphs of the United States Women’s National Team from its inception through to the present day both on the field and within the

    The premier women’s national team in the world and the gold standard all are judged upon, saved soccer in the United States not that US Soccer cares to pay them for it.

    by Caitlin Murray reveals the struggles and triumphs of the United States Women’s National Team from its inception through to the present day both on the field and within the confines of power within the U.S. Soccer Federation.

    The Women’s National Team came together by accident in 1985 for a FIFA sponsored mini-tournament in Italy, from that small start began the rise of the powerhouse of Women’s soccer. The circumstances around this beginning would color the program in the eyes of U.S. Soccer as being unimportant for decades to comes and the uncaring concern of FIFA for developing the Women’s game was another hindrance, including calling the first Women’s World Cup anything but. Yet beginning in 1996 with the inclusion of Women’s soccer in that year’s Olympics in Atlanta, the U.S. Women would begin changing the face of the sport in the American consciousness. The pivotal moment came in 1999 with the third World Cup tournament taking place on home soil, without much hype brought about by either FIFA or U.S. Soccer, it was the players themselves that for half a year prior to the tournament promoted it in every city that would host games with clinics and friendlies that made the tournament a success in the beginning but also put pressure on the team itself to perform on the field. The victory of the U.S. Women in 1999 followed by the 2000 gold medal saved the sport of soccer in the United States—this from a Hall of Fame men’s player—after the U.S. Men’s disastrous 1998 World Cup performance. Yet after all their success, the women weren’t paid better nor given better overall treatment by U.S. Soccer. This trend would continue until present; the U.S. Women would continually have success while the U.S. Men would struggle though it was the latter that U.S. Soccer would treat like princes. The repeated failures of women’s professional leagues, two sabotaged by Major League Soccer, has been a financial burden for women players and the third attempt funded and run by U.S. Soccer has become a bargaining chip between both players and federation in the long running pay equality struggle between the two for almost two decades.

    Chronicling the ups and downs both on and off the field of the USWNT in a readable manner was not an easy task for Murray. Devoting herself to the “Team” as a whole and its members at a given time, Murray would only give brief biographical sketches of historically important and momentarily prominent players but enough to help the overall work. Dealing with the team dynamic over the decades and the team vs. federation battle over the same period, Murray was able to shift between one and the other seamlessly mainly because both go together hand-to-glove. The financial issues that are prominent in the news today are nothing new between the two, it is just that the players have decided to come out in public including using U.S. Soccer’s own 2016 budget showing the organization is only profitable because of the Women’s team, a situation even more pronounced after the Men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. However, the team dynamics of players relationship with themselves and with their coaches shows that Women’s team is not immune to human nature and egos especially as seen in the 2007 World Cup in which the veteran’s backstabbed Hope Solo and then convinced the team to shun her when she spoke out for having been replaced in goal for a semifinal match.

    is quick-paced biography and history of a group of players that join, stay, then leave to make room for the next generation, but everyone deals with the same burden to succeed and fight U.S. Soccer. Caitlin Murray’s gives the reader both an overview and intimate look at the team, it’s accomplishments, and failures. With the 2019 World Cup just around the corner, this is a must read for fans of the best Women’s Team in the world.

  • Brina

    During the late 1990s, women’s sports came of age in the United States. The benefactresses of the women’s movement and Title IX, girls growing up in the late 1980s and 1990s could finally play sports that had for generations been denied to them. The crown jewel of this generation was the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, which has been nicknamed the women’s Olympics because American women dominated, winning gold medals in many sports across the board. Following the success of the Olympics on home so

    During the late 1990s, women’s sports came of age in the United States. The benefactresses of the women’s movement and Title IX, girls growing up in the late 1980s and 1990s could finally play sports that had for generations been denied to them. The crown jewel of this generation was the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, which has been nicknamed the women’s Olympics because American women dominated, winning gold medals in many sports across the board. Following the success of the Olympics on home soil, women athletes desired to ride the coat tails of their success. Nowhere would this be more evident than the 1999 United States Women National Team, the soccer team that put the sport on the map and inspired a generation of girls start playing the sport.

    Most American sports fans can tell you where they were when the 1999 women’s soccer team won the World Cup played in the famous Rose Bowl stadium. The event was game changing as it encouraged girls around the world to take up the sport, but it was also iconic, remembered for Brandi Chastain’s winning penalty kick and her pulling her jersey off afterward. A woman in a sports bra appearing feminine and appearing in the pages of Sports Illustrated demonstrated to sports fans around the world that women athletes could be successful and, for lack of a better word, sexy. Yes, women could have long hair, wear makeup, and be world class athletes. The team lead by Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Chastain made soccer playing look easy, and their ability on the pitch was nearly flawless. While these athletes inspired on the field, they had to fight off of the field just to be allowed to play. The 1999 World Cup championship would just be the beginning of an endless fight to achieve gender equality on and off of the playing field.

    In the last World Cup cycle, the United States women’s team won in 2015 and are looking to dominate the competition again this year. The men’s team, on the other hand, did not even qualify for their 2018 tournament; yet, the United States Soccer Federation has always favored the men, believing that they are most responsible for revenue. Since before the 1999 victory, the top women players have been in a struggle to achieve an equal playing field. Hamm and Foudy sought advice from Billie Jean King a tennis star who fought for gender equity on tour for her entire career. She encouraged the stars to boycott key tournament games if it meant achieving gains for future generations of players. Usually, the threat of boycott was successful as the players argued for equal locker rooms, medical treatment, playing surfaces, and pay. Yet, the Federation to this day has favored the men, and, despite the women achieving more success on the field, the men still earn more per match despite generating far less revenue from their playing ability. As a result, the new generation of stars has taken up the fight with the Federation in an attempt to gain even more equity in order to completely level the field for future players.

    Caitlin Murray has covered the Women’s National Team for a myriad of newspapers over the last decade. Yet, in this book, I feel that she was trying to do too much. She jumps from matches to the fight with the Federation and back, not giving much space to any one episode in this book. If she had focused on the 1999 World Cup championship team both on and off of the field, she would have had enough material for a book. She could have gone deeper in character studies and transformed the stars of the team into protagonists for the entire book. Instead, Murray wrote a history of United States women’s soccer since the first often forgotten World Cup winning team of 1991. That team put the wheels in motion for the generation changing team of 1999 to achieve what they have and deserves press; yet, Murray could have achieved more if she focused primarily on 1999 and wrote an epilogue about 2015. As one who enjoys micro history, I would have found this more enjoyable. Twenty years ago, this new batch of stars should deservingly get their due as well. The writing is page turning, and I read the women’s story in a little more than a day; however, as I reflected on the 1999 team, I would have enjoyed more of the book to be about that group.

    The United States women’s national Team is gearing up for another World Cup next month. Lead by a new generation of stars as Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan, the Americans have assembled possibly their best team ever. Off of the field, the women have taken ownership of their fight with the Federation, demanding an equal salary as the men as well as equal training facilities and playing surfaces. Fifteen years from now, a new generation may not have to fight at all. The next national team stars are in grammar school today and looking up to players like Alex Morgan and Morgan Brien. As each generation levels the playing field in all sports, men and women athletes of tomorrow will hopefully be treated the same. All of this success can be traced back to Title IX and later on to the generational changing 1999 United States Women’s National Soccer Team.

    3+ stars

  • Glen

    I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

    This is the history of the US women's soccer team, from its formation as an entity, to its gold medal winning ways of today.

    What seems like it might be some sort of inspirational story is unrelentingly grim, with no sense of joy, only of pique. It's certainly odd, and I don't see how this would inspire any young girls to endeavour to play soccer.

    Certainly not for the depressed.

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