After being handed their second loss of 2014 by Brazil, courtesy of a Marta hat trick, Monday in the Torneio Internacional, the United States Women's National Team (and fans) took another blow Friday morning when FIFA released their quarterly rankings. The U.S., who had dominated the rankings since March 2008, was no longer at the top.
The U.S. has had a roller coaster year to say the least. After losing to Sweden (and former coach Pia Sundhage) back in March at the Algarve Cup and finishing 7th in the overall tournament, to firing then-coach Tom Sermanni after a win over China in April and the subsequent hiring of Coach Jill Ellis and her inconsistent and, dare I say odd, call-ups and line-ups, there has been little certainty for U.S. fans this year.
Under Ellis, fans have seen the return of Chicago Red Stars captain Lori Chalupny after a five-year hiatus and have also seen the disappearance of many of the younger players Sermanni was beginning to call up (and actually give playing time to). One could even ask the question of why the U.S. continues to refrain from giving backup goalkeepers playing time, but the greatest mystery may be the on pitch absence of Amy Rodriguez, the second-highest goal scorer for the 2014 NWSL season. Rodriguez continues to be called up to camp, but getting playing time has eluded her.
The team, while at times beating their opponents by 7 or 8 goals, finished their first game under Ellis against rivals Canada in May with a 1-1 draw, and narrowly scraped by with a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago in the October Women's World Cup Qualifiers. The expected easy victory against China December 10th turned into a 1-1 draw as well before they rebounded with a 7-0 win Thursday night over Argentina (a game in which Christen Press scored four goals and Carli Lloyd scored three).
4th Quarter FIFA Women's Rankings: