Not just for their back to back victory in France. Not just for the individual performance of athletes like Megan Rapinoe — interestingly, the only member of the team acknowledged as an out gay woman in the article — and Alex Morgan and so many more members of the team. Not just because they continue to fight for equal pay for themselves and for women across the nation.
But as Time’s Sean Gregory wrote, it was because “the rapturous joy of 23 women whose unalloyed pride in their accomplishment, and determination to see it shared, seemed to mark a new era.”
“We’re in a movement,” remarked Rapinoe, “not a moment.”
Time noted it was this united focus on their impact that made them a natural choice, even though the USWNT did receive criticism for their bravada.
“It’s someone’s prerogative to be saying, ‘They shouldn’t be doing this,’” says U.S. forward Christen Press. “And what makes our team what it is is nobody cares.”
“...it was precisely that honest, unfiltered and unapologetic quality that struck such a chord. The soccer insiders were right about Team USA becoming a national obsession. But they were wrong about the reason. The U.S. women didn’t evoke the easy feelings of patriotism that come from waving a flag so much as embody the evolving spirit of the more perfect union that it symbolizes.”
In case you were wondering, Time’s choice for Person of the Year is 16-year-old climate change activist Greta Thunberg.