HOUSTON — U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris is urging more federations to invest in women’s soccer to help grow the game around the world.
The Americans have dominated their first two matches during the 2020 Olympic qualifying tournament, earning a 4-0 win over Haiti and an 8-0 win over Panama.
Some joked Harris didn’t have much to do against Panama Friday because the team didn’t score and struggled to match the USWNT, but she said the Panama side deserved respect as it works to improve. She also hoped the result would encourage the Panama federation to invest in more training to help elevate the team’s performance in the future.
“So if we keep putting money into these women teams, in these woman’s programs, you’re gonna see them continue to climb and be better,” said Harris, who also is an outspoken leader for the Orlando Pride in the National Women’s Soccer League.
She noted she has seen growth in the Haitian team, which was put pressure on the Americans before ultimately falling 4-0, because the country has focused on the sport and provided the money needed to help make the team more competitive. It’s an attitude shift she wants to see across all of women’s soccer.
“That’s what we are trying to push right now across the board, it’s to keep investing in women, keep investing in these federations and so they can put out a good product on the field,” she said.
Panama coach Kenneth Zseremeta said after the loss to the Americans the USWNT team won the World Cup because it has more resources and players have a chance to keep getting better. Zseremeta said he wants the same opportunities for his team.
The USWNT is the most successful team in the world, having won four Women’s World Cup titles, four Olympic gold medals, eight Concacaf Gold Cups and two SheBelieves Cup crowns.
The success has inspired a new generation of fans who are the future of American soccer. BBVA Stadium was filled with families for USWNT matches, with girls wearing American jerseys and holding posters with their favorites players’ names.
“We are just trying to inspire the next generation,” Harris said. “We want to show them … with hard work, anything is possible. And we’re trying to pave the way for younger generations to carry on this gift and carry on this legacy.”