Kelley O’Hara hangs up her cleats — Where in the world will the Women’s World Cup be in 2027?

The IX: Soccer Monday with Annie Peterson, May 6, 2024

It was a rather newsy past week in women’s soccer, but we’ll take a look at the two biggest stories.

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First, Kelley O’Hara announced her retirement this past week via Just Women’s Sports, the platform she’s been involved with since it’s inception. Here’s the story.

O’Hara will retire at the end of this season. The 35-year-old won two-time Women’s World Cups, an Olympic gold medal and two National Women’s Soccer League titles (so far) — one with Gotham last year and one with the Washington Spirit in 2021.

“I’ve been playing soccer since I was 4 years old, and it’s been an absolute joy,” she said. “But as they say, ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’ And I know there will be a lot of tears by me and probably some of y’all, but I hope there are more smiles.”

O’Hara has been a constant with the U.S. national team, emerging in recent years as a steady leader as the team has trended toward younger stars. She was known for her fierce intensity on the field, and her sense of humor off it.

In 160 appearances with the national team, O’Hara has played in four total World Cups and three Olympics. She is one of just four U.S. players to be selected for four World Cup squads.

A few moments really stick out to me.

One was in the 2015 World Cup, when she came off the bench to score in the 84th minute, sealing a 2-0 semifinal victory over Germany in Montreal. The crowd went absolutely nuts.

Then there’s the extra-time goal that won the Spirit the 2021 NWSL championship.

When she was a barista!

And who could forget this?

Last summer, O’Hara teared up while describing what Megan Rapinoe meant to the team. It almost said more about O’Hara than it did about Rapinoe. O’Hara was often matter-of-fact, and could joke around with the best of them, but it was rare to see this much emotion from her. Even those of us in the room got misty.

“I know that the world sees the Megan Rapinoe that the world sees, but we got to see her up close and personal. And obviously the ‘Pinoe’ that the world sees is an incredible person and human. And that is her also up close and personal. She brings a sense of humor and lightness, but intensity and empathy and just she is one of a kind.”

O’Hara, too, was one of a kind.

Jenna Tonelli wrote a nice piece about O’Hara for The Equalizer.

The other big story last week was the withdrawal of the joint U.S. and Mexico bid for the Women’s World Cup in 2027.

It makes sense: Hosting the men’s World Cup in 2026 then turning around and hosting the women’s tournament the next year seemed to be really ambitious. What wasn’t expected was how long they kept the bid alive.

The FIFA Congress will vote on the winning bid on May 17 in Bangkok.

Here’s what’s left: Two bids, one from Brazil and another Germany joint proposal from Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.

Brazil’s bid appears to be the stronger of the two. The big thing that Brazil has going for it is that South America really is due a Women’s World Cup, and it would help grow the game in that region. The drawback is the travel between host cities. Flights would be the only option.

The German-Dutch-Belgium bid has travel as a positive (trains are great!) and also Germany has experience from hosting the 2011 World Cup. That might be a drawback, too, since that tournament was fairly recent. So we’ll have to stay tuned.

U.S. Soccer is instead shifting focus to 2031.

Two other quick notes from the week that was: The Current and the Pride stand as the two remaining undefeated teams in the NWSL. And FIFPRO is partnering with several institutions to study why women’s soccer players are prone to ACL injuries. This is much needed.

On to the Links.

Jackie Guttierez on Internationals raising the bar in the NWSL

The Guardian looks on the NWSL’s innovation.

The KC Star writes about Vlatko Andonovski’s frustration with the schedule.

Jeff Kassouf takes a look at the billionaire owners of the NWSL

The Sports Business Journal looks at the gains the Courage have made in attendance, sponsorship.

Stoked the Merc is covering Bay FC

My colleague James Robson writes about FIFPRO and others studying ACL injuries in women’s soccer.

My colleague Ron Blum on the US and Mexico dropping the 2027 Women’s World Cup bid.

The Olympics channel looks at the legend of Marta.

The situation with Zambia is concerning.

The national Soccer Hall of Fame induction ceremony was this weekend. Former USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard joined Josh McKinney, captain of the U.S. seven-a-side Paralympic team, midfielder Tisha Venturini-Hoch and United Soccer Leagues founder Francisco Marcos. Amy Rosenfeld was the recipient of the 2024 Colin Jose Media Award.

Let’s check in with the Chicago Red Stars, who pulled off a 2-1 victory at Bay FC on Sunday night. Deyna Castellanos nearly pulled Bay even with a blast in the waning minutes that went just wide. And Mallory Swanson’s penalty attempt was saved by Bay goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland. It was a fun game to watch. And good to see Warriors coach Steve Kerr supporting the women’s game.

“We knew we were better than those losses,” Ally Schlegel said in the postgame press conference, which you can watch below.

Written by Annie Peterson