USWNT drops to lowest FIFA world ranking 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. It's the lowest ranking for the U.S. since FIFA introduced its ranking system for the women's game in 2003.

Sweden jumped up two spots to No. 1 after a third-place finish at the tournament, while World Cup champion Spain is No. 2 after moving up four spots. England, the tournament runner-up, remained No. 4 ahead of France, Germany and the Netherlands. The Germans dropped four spots from No. 2 after their elimination in the group stage.

Before moving to No. 1 in 2017, the United States was ranked No. 2. The U.S. has occupied the top spot in the FIFA women's rankings for a total of 13 years.

This year's Round of 16 exit was the worst World Cup finish for the U.S. The USWNT won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019 but dealt with injury issues and poor coaching in 2023. The team looked sloppy during its group-stage matches and barely even advanced to the next round to face Sweden.

Not long 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 things out before the 2027 World Cup — more than enough time to right the ship. It just won't be alone anymore with Spain, England and Sweden all jockeying for supremacy.