Four years ago, at the London 2012 Olympics, the United States women’s national soccer team won a third straight gold medal despite not having a professional league at the time. Fast-forward to the Rio 2016 Olympics, and the National Women’s Soccer League is the most-represented league of any in the world at the Olympics.
The NWSL has 38 players at these Rio Games, 15 more than any other league in the world. France’s Division 1 Féminine has 23 players at the Games, while China’s Women’s Super League sent 22 players and Germany’s Frauen-Bundesliga sent 20 players, per the NWSL.
Thirty seven of those 38 NWSL players have seen the field at the Olympics — including all 33 field players. U.S. backup goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, of the Chicago Red Stars, is the only player not to see action.
All of which is a sign of how much things have changed in four years. Just after midnight, on the day of the gold-medal match four years ago, a new women’s soccer league was haphazardly announced via email. Three-plus months later, after U.S. Soccer stepped in, that vision of a league was eventually formally announced as the NWSL. And now in its historic fourth season, the NWSL is playing a leading role at a major tournament, another sign that the still nascent league is headed in the right direction.
Here are some more interesting statistics about the NWSL at the Rio 2016 Olympics:
- 5 — The number of quarterfinals to feature NWSL players on their roster. New Zealand is the only team with NWSL players which failed to get out of the group stage.
- 13 — The number of goals scored by NWSL players in this tournament thus far. There have been 54 goals scored total thus far.
- 14 — The number of games, out of 18 thus far, to feature at least one NWSL player.
- 72 — The average number of minutes played per appearance by NWSL players at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
- 91 — Appearances by NWSL players thus far at the Games (73 starts, 18 reserve appearances)
— NWSL (@NWSL) August 10, 2016
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