Women's World Cup 2019: Where does this USWNT rank among the greatest U.S. national teams ever?
This year's champions are among the five best national teams to rep the U.S. in sports history
The United States women's national team is still one of the greatest soccer teams of all time., and deservedly so, as some have already begun crowning the Americans
With the FIFA champions fresh in our minds, it's fair to ask: Where does this year's USWNT rank among other top national teams to represent the United States? Are they among, say, the top five across all sports?
If you ask us, the answer is an unequivocal yes.
But America has played host to a number of other unforgettable squads. With the 2019 Women's World Cup champs part of the bunch, here's a look at five of the best U.S. national teams to ever represent the country:
5. Men's Olympic swim team (2008)
The United States has dominated swimming at the Summer Olympics since the 1980s, and it continues to own the sport ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games. But the 2008 contingent remains a pillar of Team USA history thanks to its record-setting performance headlined by Michael Phelps, the international all-time leader for Olympic gold medals. The Americans claimed 31 golds in Beijing for an easy first-place finish, but in the process, they also rewrote more than two dozen Olympic and U.S. team records. All three relay teams set world-record times, while Phelps alone won eight (!) golds, breaking a 36-year-old single Games record.
4. Women's national soccer team (1999)
The 1991 USWNT got the ball rolling for the international dominance of Americans in women's soccer, but just before the new millennium, the 1999 squad shed new, brighter light on the sport as a whole. Spectacle alone, of course, isn't why this championship team is heralded, but it also had plenty of that. The image of former U.S. star Brandi Chastain celebrating her World Cup-winning goal in her sports bra remains an iconic snapshot. As part of their title run, this USWNT, the second World Cup champion in team history, helped draw some of the largest crowds ever seen at women's sporting events.
3. Women's national soccer team (2019)
They entered as favorites to repeat after a 2015 title, and yet somehow they still topped expectations by a lot. From their record 13-0 opening-match blowout of Thailand, it was apparent these Americans would not go quietly. Off the field, they were equally as vocal, fostering attention as much for their fight for equal pay as tournament domination. On it, they showed the world how special -- how deep -- a team can truly be, riding star contributions from Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe, as well as leadership from Julie Ertz and countless up-and-comers, to outscore opponents 26-3 and become the first women's team to win four World Cups.
2. Men's national ice hockey team (1980)
They don't call this team's peak achievement the "Miracle on Ice" for no reason. The Americans advanced to the final round of the 1980 tournament at the Winter Olympics with the youngest roster in both the Lake Placid Games and in USMNT hockey history, and their first opponent was none other than the Soviet Union, an international powerhouse that had won gold in five of the six previous Olympics. Led by goalie Jim Craig and other amateurs, the U.S. scored two third-period goals to upset the four-time defending champs, 4-3, and go on to claim its first gold medal in two decades against Finland two days later.
1. Men's Olympic basketball team (1992)
Every single one of the teams on this list had heroes, but none had nearly as much superstar power as the "Dream Team." This squad was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players, and it just so happened to be the best contingent of hooping athletes ever assembled. With Chuck Daly as coach, the roster included 11 different Hall of Famers, from Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson to Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Scottie Pippen. Not only that, but the team absolutely demolished its competition, averaging 44-point wins on the way to a 37-point gold-medal win over Venezuela.
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