The team played its first match at the Mundialito tournament on August 12, 1985, coached by Mike Ryan (not related to 2005–2007 coach Greg Ryan). In March 2004, two of its stars, Mia Hamm (who retired later that year after a post-Olympic team tour of the USA) and Michelle Akers (who had already retired), were the only two women and the only two Americans named to the FIFA 100, a list of the 125 greatest living soccer players chosen by Pelé as part of FIFA's centenary observances. Those two women along with Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, and the 1999 team started a revolution towards women's team sports in America.
Arguably their most influential and memorable victory came in the 1999 World Cup when they beat China 5–4 in a penalty shootout. With this win they emerged onto the world stage and brought significant media attention to women's soccer and athletics. On July 10, 1999, over 90,000 people (the largest ever for a women’s sporting event and one of the largest attendances in the world for a tournament game final) filled the Rose Bowl to watch the United States play China in the Final. After a back and forth game, the score was tied 0–0 at full-time, and remained so after extra time, leading to a penalty kick shootout. With Briana Scurry's save of China's third kick, the score was 4–4 with only Brandi Chastain left to shoot. She scored and won the game for the United States. Chastain famously dropped to her knees and whipped off her shirt, celebrating in her sports bra, which later made the cover of Sports Illustrated and the front pages of newspapers around the country and world. This win influenced girls to want to play soccer on a team.
Perhaps the second most influential victory came on July 10, 2011, in the quarterfinal of the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany, where the U.S. beat Brazil 5–3 on penalty kicks. Abby Wambach tied the game 2–2 in the 2nd minute of extra time in the 2nd period of overtime (the 122nd minute of the match overall) with a left-footed cross by Megan Rapinoe. Earlier in the game, Brazil had evened the score 1–1 on a controversial penalty kick. Interestingly, the game was played on the 12th anniversary of the memorable 1999 World Cup Final (described above), which the US also won on penalty kicks.
In the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. won the gold medal for the fourth time in five Olympics by defeating Japan 2–1 in front of 80,203 fans at Wembley Stadium, a record for a women's soccer game at the Olympics. The United States advanced to face Japan in a rematch of 2011 Women’s World Cup final, won by the Japanese on penalty kicks, by winning arguably one of the greatest games only rivaled by the victories mentioned above. In the semi-final match against Canada, the Americans trailed three times before Alex Morgan’s header in the third minute of injury time at the end of 30 minutes of extra-time lifted the team to a 4–3 victory. Morgan’s game-winning goal (123") is now the latest tally ever in a FIFA competition. The London Olympics marked the first time the USWNT won every game en route to the gold medal and set an Olympic women's team record of 16 goals scored. Wambach scored a team-leading five goals in five straight games, which is an U.S. and Olympic record, while Morgan and Rapinoe led the team with four assists apiece, which attributed to their team-high tying 10 points. By scoring both goals in the 2012 Olympic final, Carli Lloyd is the only woman in history to score the winning goal in separate gold Olympic matches (2008 and 2012).
In the 2013 season, USA had an undefeated record of 14-0-2 with their last win against Brazil with a score of 4-1.
Traditionally since the team started, the kit has been an all-white kit, with occasional blue shorts. Blue shorts in combination with blue or red jersey and socks have also been used. Combinations of red, white and blue were used in 2003 World Cup, and 2004 Olympics. From 2012, the team's kit is identical to that worn by the men's team. Like the men's team, Nike is the team's kit manufacturer. The team also wears two stars above the US Soccer badge, to signify their two championship titles from World Cup competitions.
1 The US team directly qualified for the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup as hosts of the event. Because of this, they did not participate in the 1998 CONCACAF Championship, which was the qualification tournament for the World Cup.