Sports Take: USWNT friendly against England was more than just a game

England’s Lauren Hemp, center, challenges for the ball with Andi Sullivan of the United States, left, and Sofia Huerta of the United States, right, during the women’s friendly soccer match between England and the United States United at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday 7th October. , 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

By AnnaGrace Hale | sports editor

The United States Women’s National Team took on England in a friendly last Friday, hailing a momentous day for women’s football as they went over the score line 2-1. It’s no lie that the importance of women’s football is growing around the world and this match was as important outside the 90 minutes as it was inside.

Despite the obvious rivalry, this game represented something bigger. It was about women coming together in solidarity to show the world that women can play football, and they can do it well despite the odds.

The teams observe a period of silence regarding the stadium tragedy in Indonesia ahead of the women’s soccer friendly match between England and the United States at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday, October 7, 2022. (AP Photo/ Kirsty Wigglesworth)

When the showdown at the iconic Wembley Stadium was first announced in August, general admission tickets sold out within 24 hours. The declaration of a match up was issued two days after England won the title of 2022 UEFA European Championsand fans were eager to see these two powerhouse teams go head-to-head.

76,893 spectators filled the stands on Friday, the highest number of friendly USWNT spectators ever. Thousands of eyes watched the familiar names, American and English, enter the field.

With a recent independent investigation revealing systemic abuses occurring in professional women’s football, this match came at the right time. Both nations took this opportunity to unite against the wrongdoings that have occurred in the National Women’s Soccer League. Before the game, the players showed their solidarity by rallying behind a banner that read “protect the players”. The athletes also wore teal armbands, the color of survivors of sexual abuse and violence.

After 45 minutes of play, the The England squad were joined on the pitch by some of England’s former players to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Lioness program.

In 1921, the Football Association banned women’s professional football in England. In 1972, the women’s program was revived. Just five decades later, the three lion crests were seen lifting a silver trophy on the European stage.

The creased smiles on the older Lioness’ faces said it all. It was something special.

After the match concluded, former American football star Brandi Chastain and iconic England striker Chloe Kelly exchanged jerseys. Kelly ripped off his jersey after scoring the winning goal in extra time in the Euros final reflecting Chastain’s 1999 World Cup celebration. What a cool full circle moment.

Megan Rapinoe of the United States, right, in action during the Women's Friendly Soccer match between England and the United States at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday, October 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Megan Rapinoe of the United States, right, in action during the Women’s Friendly Soccer match between England and the United States at Wembley Stadium in London on Friday, October 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

As for the score line, what does it really matter? Some American fans are panicking because it was Team USA’s first loss in 14 months. Relax. The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 is still nine months away. This game showed the world that women’s football is on the rise.

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