Magoosh English Class: 2019 U.S. Women’s Soccer Team (Soccer Pt. 2)

Two players kick a ball during a game of soccer

In part two of our free English class series, Sports in America: Soccer , we will take a closer look at one of the greatest sports teams to represent the United States at the World Cup: The 2019 U.S. Women’s Soccer Team!

Goals:

  • Learn about the rise of U.S. women’s soccer
  • Learn more general English and soccer-related vocabulary
  • Learn how to talk about a sequence of events
  • Learn about the U.S. Women’s soccer team at the 2019 World Cup

Difficulty Level:

Advanced

Time:

Approximately 15 minutes

The 2019 U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Rise to #1

Click below to listen to a recording of this passage.

In general, women have struggled to gain equal respect in the sports world. This even holds true in American soccer, where the women’s national team consistently dominates other countries, while the men’s national team frequently struggles to qualify for the World Cup. Nonetheless, the U.S. Women’s national team has made a name for itself in recent years, consistently producing some of the best female athletes in the world.

The History of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team

The U.S. women’s team won dozens of international matchups in the early and mid-1990s, though they still struggled to secure support or funding. However, in 1996, the Olympic games featured a women’s soccer tournament for the first time in history. The U.S. women’s team won the gold medal after defeating China 2-1 in the final game of the tournament. Three years later, the national team beat China at the 1999 World Cup, helping to popularize women’s soccer in the United States.

The 2019 World Cup

The U.S. Women’s soccer team entered the 2019 World Cup as the defending champions. The games took place in France, where fans witnessed a stunning upset over Thailand with a score of 13-0 during the group stage. The U.S. went on to beat Chile 3-0 and Sweden 2-0, showcasing the best defense of the tournament.

In the first round of the knockout stage, the United States beat Spain 2-1. They followed up with another 2-1 victory over France in the Quarter-Finals and then another 2-1 victory over England in the Semi-Finals. Finally, the U.S. women’s team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Aftermath

The victory received a lot of media coverage for several reasons. First and foremost, the 2019 U.S. team became the first women’s soccer team to win four Women’s World Cup titles. They also broke a Women’s World Cup record with their 13-0 win over Thailand.

Additionally, the team’s star player, Megan Rapinoe (who won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball for the tournament) received a great deal of attention for her activities both on and off the field. Rapinoe used her platform to speak out against President Donald Trump and promote LGBTQ+ rights. Her refusal to visit the White House (a custom for championship teams) even sparked criticism from President Trump on Twitter. Despite the controversy, millions of people looked up to Rapinoe and the rest of the team as national heroes.

Word Focus

Let’s take a closer look at some of the words in bold from the passage:

  • To hold true – (verb phrase) – To continue to be true; to be correct or valid in similar situations.
    • Many of the barriers women athletes faced in the past still hold true today.
  • Dominate – (verb) – To hold power over something or someone.
    • The U.S. team dominated the competition.
  • Defending champion – (noun) – A participant in a game or tournament that won the previous game or tournament.
    • The U.S. Women’s team will still be the defending champion at the next World Cup.
  • Upset – (noun/verb) – An unexpected outcome; to knock something over; (in sports and politics) to beat the expected winner.
    • Though fans hoped for a victory, they didn’t expect such an upset.
  • Group stage – (noun) – In soccer, the first stage of a tournament in which teams are divided into different groups.
    • No one in the group stage could beat the U.S. team.
  • Showcase – (noun/verb) – A place for the presentation of something; to display.
    • Megan Rapinoe has been showcasing her talent for years.
  • Knockout stage – (noun) – In soccer, the second stage (following the group stage) in which every match must be played until a winner can be determined.
    • While the knockout stage was tougher, the U.S. still came out on top.
  • Quarter-Finals – (noun) – In soccer, the round of a tournament in which 8 teams compete to go to the Semi-Finals.
    • The United States played France in the Quarter-Finals.
  • Semi-Finals – (noun) – A game or round before the final game in a championship series.
    • The United States, Sweden, the Netherlands, and England competed in the 2019 World Cup Semi-Finals.
  • Golden Boot – (noun) – In soccer, an award given to the player who scores the most goals during a season or tournament.
    • Winning the Golden Boot is one of the greatest honors a soccer player can receive.
  • Golden Ball – (noun) – In soccer, an award given to the best all-around player in a season or tournament.
    • Everyone agreed that Megan Rapinoe deserved the Golden Ball.

Grammar Center: Sequence of Events

Let’s look at one of the paragraphs from the passage above:

In the first round of the knockout stage, the United States beat Spain 2-1. They followed up with another 2-1 victory over France in the Quarter-Finals and then another 2-1 victory over England in the Semi-Finals. Finally, the U.S. Women’s team beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This paragraph demonstrates a sequence of events. Knowing how to properly describe a sequence of events is important for telling a story, reporting the news, and many other forms of communication in English. In order to describe a sequence of events, you will need to adequately describe when each event takes place in relation to the previous event.

So, how can you describe time relations in a sequence of events? There are a few ways, actually…

Sequential Language

A sequence refers to things that appear or occur in a certain order. If you want to talk about a sequence in English, you will need to learn the lingo:

  • First
  • Second
  • Third
  • Fourth…
  • Ninety-ninth
  • One-hundredth…

The list goes on from there, but we think you get the idea. These words are vital for reporting events in a certain order. You can add them at the beginning of a sentence:

First, Megan Rapinoe scored a goal.

You can also put these words at the end of a sentence, like this:

Megan Rapinoe scored a goal first. (Or: Megan Rapinoe scored the first goal.)

While these words are important, you shouldn’t only rely on them when talking about a series of events. If you do, your story will get very repetitive, very quickly. Here’s an example:

First, the U.S. scored. Second, France scored. Third, the U.S. scored again. Fourth, the game ended.

This sounds pretty strange, doesn’t it? Thankfully, there are plenty of adverbs and adverbial phrases to help you tell a more interesting story:

The First Part

  • First,
  • At first,
  • In the beginning,
  • At the start,
  • On Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday…,
  • In January/February/March…,
  • In 2018/2019/2020…,

In the Middle

  • After that,
  • Next,
  • Then,
  • The following day/month/year
  • The next day/month/year

The Last Part

  • Last,
  • Finally,
  • In the end,
  • Afterward,
  • Today,
  • Nowadays,

Here’s a sample paragraph that uses a mix of these words and phrases:

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Americans didn’t really care about women’s soccer. Later, things changed dramatically. In 1999, the U.S. women’s team drew attention to the role women played in international sports. After that, people really started paying attention. Nowadays, millions of people watch women’s soccer every year!

There you have it! Now you can talk about a sequence of events with ease.

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