USA Lose their Number 1 Ranking
USA Lose their Number 1 Ranking avatar

For the first time since 2008 the United States Women’s National Team no longer sits atop the World FIFA rankings, slipping to number two in the latest ratings behind Germany.

Thursday’s 7-0 win over Argentina, combined with Brazil’s 4-1 decision versus China, was enough to keep U.S. hopes alive at the International Tournament of Brazil, but it wasn’t enough for the U.S. to retain that number one ranking.

The U.S. will need to contain Marta better than they did in their first match. (Getty Images)

The U.S. will need to contain Marta better than they did in their first match. (Getty Images)

The Americans will get a chance at revenge in Sunday’s tournament final against the host nation, but even if they can find a way to subdue Marta and co., the U.S. will finish 2014 behind Germany, as these are FIFA’s last ratings of the year.

A 3-2 loss to Brazil in the tournament’s second match, was the team’s first since Jill Ellis took over from Tom Sermanni following Sermanni’s firing last April.

Beating up on overmatched Argentina brought the team’s record under Ellis to 16-1-4. Impressive? Sure, but the team has not recaptured the air of invincibility that it once carried, and heading into a World Cup year, this demotion behind Germany is not a big surprise.

Tom Sermanni gave more younger players opportunities than previous coaches. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Tom Sermanni gave more younger players opportunities than previous coaches. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Sermanni never recovered from a dismal showing in the 2014 Algarve Cup, when the U.S. finished seventh in a tournament they have won nine times. Of course, no one is suggesting that Ellis’ job is on the line, although a win on Sunday would go a long way toward calming some fraying nerves.

The U.S. opened in Brazil with a disappointing 1-1 draw against China, before surrendering a two goal lead to Marta and company. Matra’s hattrick was equal parts brilliance on her part, and not quite sharp enough goalkeeping from Hope Solo.

Solo was given the game off against Argentina, with Alyssa Naeher picking up her first cap. With domestic violence charges against Solo still unresolved, Ellis needs to prepare a viable replacement, should her number one find herself suspended for the World Cup.

Sermanni was handed the tricky job of changing the team’s style to more of a possession oriented game, while integrating new players, all while still winning. He was tasked with accomplishing all of this with a team that was coming off of Gold Medal winning performance at the 2012 London Olympics.

It proved too much for Sermanni, and since taking over Ellis has faced the same challenges.

The backline has been unsettled with younger players failing to unseat 39 year old veteran Christie Rampone in the center, while competition at fullback is still underway. Too much available talent hardly seems like a reason to complain, but for the U.S. WNT coach there is an abundance of talent available from the midfield forward, and finding the right combination has been a problem.

Star players bristled, quietly, at reduced minutes, as Sermanni searched for the right combination. The personable Aussie found out the hard way that he didn’t have as much time to experiment as he thought.

Ellis' team has not looked convincing and look very beatable.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Ellis’ team has not looked convincing and look very beatable.(ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

With the World Cup coming in June, Ellis will understand the urgency of her task. Is attack minded Lauren Holiday the answer at defensive midfield? Is Morgan Brian, a natural fit at the spot, a better choice. Does Ellis play the two together?

Goal scoring midfielder Carli Lloyd is an automatic. Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez, and the team’s best pure winger, Heather O’Reilly, all have a case to make.

Then there are the young stars Christen Press and Sydney Leroux, strikers who have been tried in midfield positions to get them on the field.

Up top a healthy Alex Morgan has to play. And what about Abby Wambach. Could the worlds leading international goal scorer be used off of the bench? She could be quite a weapon with fewer minutes on her 34 year old legs.

Falling from number one is a blow to the ego of U.S. WNT, but one that will be assuaged if the Americans can do in Canada what they have been unable to since 1999 at the Rose Bowl. And that is to win the World Cup.

FIFA Rankings

nk Change Team Points
1 Increase 1  Germany 2176
2 Decrease 1  United States 2158
3 Increase 1  France 2091
4 Decrease 1  Japan 2084
5 Steady  Sweden 2000
6 Increase 1  England 1984
7 Increase 4  North Korea 1981
8 Decrease 2  Brazil 1968
9 Decrease 1  Canada 1962
10 Steady  Australia 1957

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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5 Responses to USA Lose their Number 1 Ranking
USA Lose their Number 1 Ranking avatar

  1. David C says:

    I was disappointed with the quality of play during qualification for the World Cup. The U.S. looked short of ideas and found it difficult to break down some mediocre defenses.
    Maybe the rest of the world is just catching up, but surely with all the money and the fact that these players are full-time should help them to sustain their position.
    Worryingly, when I look at rankings and recent performances I think the U.S. could be rated 4th or 5th.
    Fortunately there is still time until the World Cup to work on where they are going wrong.

  2. mark says:

    The history of usa women being an argumentative bunch will destroy everything any coach attempts.

  3. Tim says:

    When I visited my wife’s hometown in Brazil (population 350,000) I was struck by the fact that there was not a single girls soccer team to be found. The only girl soccer players you could find were either playing with the boys or playing league futsal. There is little to no support for girls or women’s soccer at all in Brazil. That being said, it is amazing that they are still producing a national team that is competitive with the top teams in the world. How can this be? The only thing I can think of is that this situation is resulting in the development of incredibly strong individual players. These women have never been caught up in the soccer rat race that focuses on winning at a young age. They haven’t been over-coached and had to give up their individualism. Players like Marta charge head on in 1v1 attacks and audacious play through the middle. It is amazing to watch and everything that US players have been coached not to do.

  4. SoccerPlay says:

    The USA had an advantage by being the most socially advanced country and thus its girls played the girls earlier than other countries. Now that everyone is in love with ladies soccer, the US will assume its rank midpack because ultimately, european and other countries have better training, better philosophy and soccer means more in their world. The dominance of others on the men’s side will make its way to the women’s side. its inevitable.

    • Stu says:

      The only reason the rest of the world dominates at soccer is that is virtually the only sport played in these other countries. The talent pool in the USA is divided up among all the more popular sports. If all of the American talent played soccer like in the other countries you would see the USA dominate in this sport like they do in basketball. In the USA soccer is primarily a girls game because the only boys who play soccer are ones that aren’t big enough, strong enough or fast enough to excel at the more popular sports.

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