USWNT drops to lowest FIFA world rankings ever after early World Cup exit

The USWNT lost in the Round of 16 to Sweden in the 2023 Women's World Cup. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

The USWNT lost in the Round of 16 to Sweden in the 2023 Women’s World Cup. (AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

For the first time since 2017, the United States’ women’s national soccer team is not ranked No. 1 in the world.

The USWNT dropped all the way to No. 3 in FIFA’s world ranking after Sweden knocked the U.S. out of the 2023 World Cup in the Round of 16. That’s the team’s lowest placement for the U.S. since FIFA introduced the ranking system in 2003.

Sweden jumped up to No. 1 after a third-place finish at the tournament, while World Cup champion Spain finished No. 2. England, the tournament runner-up, remained No. 4 ahead of France, Germany and the Netherlands, respectively. Japan, Brazil and Canada rounded out the top-10, respectively.

This year’s Round of 16 exit was the worst-ever finish in the history of the U.S. women’s team. The USWNT won back-to-back championships in 2015 and 2019 which helped them secured the No. 1 ranking for six consecutive years, but ran into a injury issues and bad coaching in 2023. The team looked sloppy during group stage matches and barely even advanced to the next round before their bout with Sweden.

And soon after the loss, USWNT manager Vlatko Andonovski stepped down after four years.

The FIFA ranking is also indicative of a growing sentiment within the soccer world that Spain and England — not the United States — are the new “gold standard” for women playing the sport. But even still, the USWNT set an incredible legacy for the sport in the United States, even though some of it came with a bit of domestic vitriol.

But it’s not like the team is without talent. Sophia Smith is a great offensive player, Trinity Rodman looked like a rising star and Naomi Girma played wonderfully on defense. The U.S. will have four years to figure themselves out before the 2027 World Cup — more than enough to time to right the ship. They just won’t be alone anymore with Spain, England and Sweden all jockeying for supremacy.