When the 2017 March FIFA women’s rankings came out, the United States were finally knocked out of the #1 position by Germany, a switch that we’ve made before in 2015. The dance continues as the updated rankings flip the United States back to #1, with some minor shifts throughout the rest of the top 10. Winning results in recent friendlies against Russia, Sweden, and Norway gave the US the bump.
With the 2017 Euros coming up, Germany could retake #1 with some wins, especially since Euro games will weighted more heavily than international friendlies. That could help them keep #1 even if the United States wrecks Japan, Australia, and Brazil in their upcoming friendly Tournament of Nations.
But let’s be real. It didn’t really matter when the United States slipped to #2 and it still doesn’t matter now that they’re #1 again. The women’s game has progressed such that you can lose your #1 ranking in any given period and that’s good for the United States and the game as a whole.
There are certainly tiers of rankings that matter - for example, falling out of the top three would be bad and out of the top 10 a genuine catastrophe for the US - but within those tiers, movement is actually a very good thing. It means more teams are being active in more games, and that means better competition, which attracts fans and broadcasters, which pumps more money into the women’s game.
And it’s good for the United States to get a little gut check every once in a while. Team development must be constant; the churn between World Cups and Olympics has to keep up with the pace of European youth development now and not vice-versa. The next step is hopefully seeing the gap between top 10 and the next 10 really closing down, and also seeing a lot more countries from CAF and CONMEBOL up in the top 30 or 40.
The next FIFA rankings will update in September.