The United States men’s national team failed to make the FIFA World Cup for the first time since 1986 with a 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday night. And yes, it’s incredibly disappointing and shocking that we won’t get to cheer the team on during the 2018 World Cup, but there’s another U.S. team that will likely be playing in a World Cup in less than two years!
Yep, the FIFA Women’s World Cup is in June 2019
Ya know who’s the reigning Women’s World Cup Champions? Team USA! Yep, the American women went undefeated and defeated Japan 5-2 in the final during the summer of 2015.
The team, which returns a lot of young talent from the side that won it two years ago, will still have to qualify for the World Cup, and the competition for that begins next year.
CONCACAF World Cup qualification will begin next year, culminating in the 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The USWNT automatically qualifies for that tournament. The top 3 finishers in the tournament qualify automatically for the Women’s World Cup, while the 4th place finisher will enter a inter-confederation playoff with the 3rd place team from CONMEBOL, with the winner of the two-legged contest also heading to France in June 2019.
FIFA sets the dates for 2019 Women's World Cup in France: June 7-July 7.— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) September 14, 2017
The next scheduled USWNT friendlies are on Oct. 19 and 22 against South Korea. While it hasn’t been finalized yet, they’re also likely to play a mini-tournament against England, France, and Germany in March like they have the last two seasons. Then World Cup qualifying should take place in October of 2018.
The team has also been at the center of some important issues in American soccer.
One of the more prominent was the passing of the new collective bargaining agreement in April. While the women’s team is still fighting for equal pay to that of the the USMNT, which it still (somehow, in 2017) doesn’t have, the new agreement gives players some drastic improvements:
U.S. Soccer got just about as close as it could to ensuring fair pay without blowing up the entire structure of its senior national teams, and the USWNT player reps agreed to kick this can down the road. Hopefully this conversation changes a lot in five years.
What the USWNT did get — besides better salaries — is the same per-diem as the men, better travel and hotel accommodations, better financial support for players who are pregnant or adopting children, and more control over its own image and marketing rights.
The base pay increase is significant
In 2016, the base salary for a tier 1 USWNT player — the top 18 — who played in NWSL and was a founding member of the league was $128,000, not including Olympics bonuses. Non-founding NWSL players made $10,000 less. Tier 2 players made $97,000 in base salary, while Tier 3 players made $82,000. Friendly wins, sponsor appearances, and ticket revenue helped bump up that number, but some players were earning right around $100,000 per year on the lower end, while everyone was making less than $200,000 per year in non-World Cup years.
According to Andrew Das at the New York Times, the new CBA will see “some players double their incomes to between $200,000 and $300,000 in a given year.” No one has released or reported on what the base salary numbers are or if the tier system remains in place, but it’s clear that everyone got a significant base salary bump.
And in the previous agreement, players were limited by the endorsement opportunities that they could seek, thanks to U.S. Soccer controlling most of the rights of those. But now, players will have a lot more freedom to go into business for themselves.
The team is also fighting to not play games on artificial turf, a major concern from players on the team in the last year.
According to a New York Times piece from mid-September, it was revealed players are still dissatisfied with a perceived lack of respect from U.S. Soccer, to whom they made CBA concessions in the understanding that USSF would be more receptive to them in the future.
The USWNT will play four of their last nine games this year on turf. One of those games is the responsibility of Canada Soccer, who picked BC Place in Vancouver as a venue. But those US friendlies are a sticking point for the WNT, who didn’t stipulate in their CBA that all games must be on grass (a logistical impossibility if they want to consider multiple markets and venues), but made concessions during negotiations apparently in order to get more input on where the team plays, as well as more transparency from USSF on their reasoning for picking venues.
According to the NYT article, the players included language in the new CBA that USSF would “consider players association input” on game locations. Now the team says they’re not being heard as they wanted to particularly avoid the turf at the Superdome in New Orleans. They claim that their proposed alternative sites were ignored by USSF; USSF says none of the alternatives were viable options.
Yes, there’s a lot of things currently wrong with both men’s and women’s U.S. Soccer, but the USWNT will be on the national stage again not too far down the road, so why not get a head start on getting excited about this team?