The United States’ national soccer teams played for a pair of championships on Sunday. While the men lost their final in the Gold Cup against Mexico, the women were able to defeat their opponent to capture the World Cup for a record fourth time. The team including native New Englanders Sam Mewis and Alyssa Naeher outlasted the Netherlands with a final score of 2:0 — ending an outstanding tournament in perfect fashion.
It may not seem like it at first glance but the team won its title in similar fashion to the current world champions of football, the New England Patriots. Let’s take a look at the journeys towards their respective titles.
Step 1: The early stages
Both the United States’ soccer team and the Patriots did what was expected of them on their way to the tournament and the actual title game: while the US squad easily qualified for the World Cup and then its knockout stage, New England was able to lock down its division and a playoff spot for the tenth year in a row. It may not have always been perfect, especially on the Patriots’ side, but both teams did their jobs to position themselves for a title run.
Step 2: The noise
From suspensions to political comments to questions about team quality and celebrations . — both the United States national team and the Patriots had to deal with a lot of noise en route to winning their trophies. New England kept its focus on the process, the US team kept winning. In the end, both clubs did not let any outside noise, come they from fans, journalists or even the President, distract them from their goals.
Step 3: The mental toughness
The two teams were not only able to stay on course despite numerous distractions, they also did it while going on the road into hostile environments. The Patriots had to travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game, the United States squad had to go up against host country France in the quarter-finals. Ultimately, both prevailed to advance to the next round.
Step 4: Those in the background
Bill Belichick and Jill Ellis both have vast experience in coaching. They both regularly make decisions that may not always be popular with the general public but usually work out. They both created versatile, blue-collar teams capable of adapting to any situation they may face. They both are rather stoic in their style and let the results do the talking. And now they both sit atop their respective sports.
Step 5: The coronation
The World Cup final and the Super Bowl were close affairs in the first half before the victors were able to pull away late thanks to major contributions by offensive cornerstones: the US team went up 1-0 because of a penalty kick by captain Megan Rapinoe, the Patriots scored the game’s first touchdown on a marvelous drive that saw Tom Brady get Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski involved. Defensively, meanwhile, both teams were stout from start to finish and stifled a potent opponent on the biggest stage.
At the end of the day, the Patriots and the United States women’s national soccer team can call themselves champions of the world.