The Best Women’s Soccer Moments of 2020

Considering sport tends to be an itty bitty version of society, women’s soccer in 2020 had many of the hardships all folks faced this year  – loss, frustration, and fear to name a few. Seasons were cancelled, entire leagues and teams folded, and players opted out of playing out of concern for the health of themselves and their loved ones. But this year we’ve also seen beauty and greatness – the mind-boggling development of a vaccine, singing from apartment balconies, and inspiring acts of selflessness. On the field, beauty and greatness took the form of improbable comebacks, tons of firsts, and encouraging developments that give us a lot to be excited about in 2021 and beyond. Let’s take a look back at some of the best women’s soccer moments of 2020.

The Challenge Cup’s success


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The NWSL was the first professional, contact sport to return to play during the pandemic era. The Challenge Cup, a month-long “bubble” style tournament in  Salt Lake City, was a massive success from both a health and soccer standpoint. Over  2,000 tests were performed throughout the tournament with zero positive cases. We were gifted with a lot of great goals, record viewer numbers, and, of course, a first-time champ in the Houston Dash. 

The FA WSL lights up 


Alright, alright, it’s not technically a single moment, but we have to give a nod to the top league over in the UK. The FA WSL established itself this year as the place to be, drawing some of the world’s best talent, including many USWNT players. Teams have become increasingly more professional and the league more competitive. Right now, it’s a tight race for first place, as well as those coveted Champions League spots. Saturday and Sunday early mornings have been particularly nice this fall and winter thanks to British footy.

WoSo media coverage was turned up a notch

Speaking of British footy, there’s certainly  room for improvement when it comes to how easy it is to find women’s soccer to watch, but let’s just point out some key steps forward we witnessed this year. CBS, along with Twitch, made it possible to watch the Challenge Cup and the NWSL Fall Series. Also, the network bought the rights to the UEFA Women’s Champions League. NBC Sports got in on the fun too, showing some FA WSL games. ATA Football was a revelation, allowing WoSo lovers from around the world to watch FA WSL games without any clunky sign-up procedures.

The Angel City announcement

On July 21, the public learned that pro women’s soccer would be returning to Los Angeles. A sparkly ownership group made up of former USWNT players, Hollywood stars, and big name entrepreneurs announced that Angel City FC would begin NWSL  play in 2022. 

Ngangom Bala Devi becomes first pro women’s soccer player from India

Ah, January 2020. Feels like eight lifetimes ago. Way back then, Bala Devi etched her name in women’s soccer history, signing a contract with Scottish giants Rangers. The move saw her become the first fully professional women’s soccer player from India. In December, Bala Devi claimed yet another “first”. Her goal against Motherwell on December 6th was the first to be netted by an Indian woman in a European pro league.

Women’s national teams earn equal pay

Hats off to England and Brazil this year for this development. England’s Football Association announced that the men’s and women’s national teams were being paid equally starting at the beginning of 2020. Also this year, the governing body of Brazil women’s soccer (CBF) made it known that every player representing Brazil received equal daily rates and prize money when on international duty. More of this, please!

Yuki Nagasato signs a landmark deal with Japanese men’s team

In September, Chicago Red Stars midfielder Yuki Nagasato went on loan to Hayabasu Eleven, an amateur men’s club in her home country of Japan. She’ll be there until the start of the 2021 NWSL season. Speaking about her decision, the World Cup winner said, “I want to get the message out to the girls who are playing soccer with the boys that women can join the men’s team and challenge themselves.”

Fran Kirby makes a comeback after illness

Chelsea star Fran Kirby was diagnosed with a heart condition known as pericarditis at the end of last year, and was forced to stop doing what she loved and even consider retiring, she later admitted. The England forward proved she had a whole lot of grit in her and slowly made her way back to the field in 2020. By September, she was back to pretty impressive form for the Blues, smiling and scoring goals.

Sarah Fuller breaks a lot of ceilings as Vanderbilt’s football kicker

Not long after winning an SEC Championship with the women’s soccer team, Vanderbilt goalkeeper Sarah Fuller suited up in pads and a helmet and lined up to kick for the Vanderbilt football team. Fuller gave us one of 2020’s coolest girl power moments by becoming the first woman to play in and score points in a Power 5 conference football game.

Liga MX Femenil gives us maybe the most action-packed championship game(s) of the year

Tigres UANL vs. Monterrey. Who would be crowned Mexico’s best team? Our southern neighbors do things a little differently than us, deciding the winner via a two leg-final. UANL got the W in the first game thanks to a 60th minute goal by Lizbeth Ovalle. Nothing too wild there. The second game, though, was a doozy. With the minutes ticking down and the game tied 0-0, it looked as if that lone goal from the first game was enough to give Tigres their third championship. Annia Mejia had other ideas. The center back (yup… that makes this all so much better) scored for Monterrey in the 94th minute.  94th! Literally the last kick of the game. 1-1 aggregate. 

UANL ended up winning 3-2 in PKs – the cruelest way to decide a championship. I’m exhausted just thinking about the end of this one.

Honorable Mentions

Kristie Mewis’ had a heck of a year

Sophia Smith was the NWSL’s first teenage #1 draft pick

Bethany Balcer opened up about mental health during the Challenge Cup

Madison Hammond became the first Native American player in the NWSL

Portland beat defending champs NC Courage 1-0 

Featured image via @HoustonDash on Instagram



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