The United States are in unfamiliar territory: they are not ranked No. 1 in the world. The latest FIFA World Rankings saw the USWNT drop from their perch atop world soccer to No. 2, behind Germany. It is the first time since March 2008 that the U.S. is not the top ranked team in the world.
When the U.S. was last No. 2, it was because they lost in the semifinals of the 2007 World Cup. But then they hired Pia Sundhage and won their first 10 matches of 2008, catapulting them back into the top spot that they have held ever since. A 2008 Olympic gold medal followed, then an appearance in the 2011 World Cup final, then another Olympic gold in 2012.
But now, it has been two and a half years since a competitive tournament and the friendlies -- or mini-tournaments -- are gaining more and more weight in the FIFA rankings, and the U.S. has not been doing well in those. They finished seventh in the Algarve Cup, with a draw against Japan and losses to Sweden and Denmark. They also drew Canada and France, then just last week drew China and lost to Brazil.
Yes, they have racked up wins, but most of those have been against bad and low ranked teams. The U.S. went just 2-2-3 against teams ranked in the top 10 this year, which isn't terrible, but it's hardly the record one would expect from the top ranked team in the world.
So the Americans are no longer No. 1. Now they are No. 2, behind Germany, who most agree is the best team in the world right now.
The FIFA rankings don't mean much right now, not that they ever mean much. If the U.S. goes out and wins the World Cup next year, they will almost certainly be No. 1 again, but more importantly, they will have that trophy to show off. The Americans are certainly struggling right now and their fall from the top is deserved, but hopefully it's just a little stumble as they build for the tournament that matters in June.