Let's Go Girls! Meet the Stars of the U.S. Soccer Team Headed to the World Cup Finals
Learn more about the women who will face off against Japan Sunday in Vancouver
Prepare yourself for some serious girl power.
The U.S. women’s soccer team has dominated during this year’s Women’s World Cup, culminating in a 2-0 victory against top-ranked Germany during the semi-finals in Montreal Tuesday, and prompting the hashtag #LetsGoGirls to trend on Twitter. The women are now preparing to face off against Japan in the Women’s World Cup finals Sunday in Vancouver.
But just who are these women who have all the right moves on the soccer field?
Like the members of the 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team, who shot to fame – and the cover of PEOPLE magazine – after their Women’s World Cup victory that year, these five standout athletes are poised for superstardom.
Read below to learn more about the star players – and coach – who are focused on leading the team to victory:
Growing up in a quiet New Jersey town, Lloyd, 32, honed her soccer skills on a local field in her beloved Garden State community.
“I would take shot after shot, practice on my own, just clocking in those hours and those miles of getting better,” the two-time Olympian explains in a video posted on the team’s official website.
Her hard work paid off, as she scored the first goal for her team Tuesday during the 69th minute of the semi-finals, keeping her streak of scoring a goal in every round of World Cup play.
“I think there’s a switch that kind of goes off inside of me when there’s a big match and there’s something big on the line,” she says. “Those are the moments I live for.”
Plagued by personal issues, Solo, 33, has not lost her edge on the field. The goalkeeper managed to keep Germany scoreless during the semi-finals – admitting she employed the “stall tactic” before Germany missed a crucial penalty kick.
Solo’s appearance in the World Cup came at the same time her half sister went public with details about Solo’s alleged attack on her and her teenaged son last year. Solo was arrested after the incident, but a judge dismissed the charges in January. Solo recently told PEOPLE she found the ordeal “traumatic and embarrassing.”
Solo – who was also suspended from the team for 30 days earlier this year after her husband was arrested for driving a team van under the influence, with Solo in the passenger seat – has long said she feels a calm and focused on the field.
“This is what I love, and it is challenging,” she says in a team video. “I don’t think anybody can really perfect the art of goalkeeping, and that’s what pushes me.”
The California native and Olympic gold medalist in 2012, 26, was the youngest member of the Women’s World Cup team in 2011, and returns this year with even more experience and drive. The forward scored a goal in the team’s 2-0 win against Colombia last month, and earned praise for her performance in the semi-finals.
But Morgan – who appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue in 2012 and 2014 – also scored plenty of headlines (and Tweets) after FIFA referred to her as “very easy on the eye” in a piece about the semi-finals victory.
Regardless, Morgan considers herself a role model for young girls, just as she once looked up to Mia Hamm and other members of the winning 1999 team. “I understood the role I have in the U.S. now, and the responsibility that I hold,” she says in a team video.
This is her fourth Women’s World Cup tournament for Wambach, 35, who has been credited with shepherding the team’s young talent – and she says losing in the Women’s World Cup final in 2011 (to Japan, no less!) was a defining moment for her.
“Every time you fall down, it gives you an opportunity to question yourself, question your integrity,” she says in a team video. “It’s not about the actual failure itself – it’s how you respond to it.”
Wambach has had plenty of victories too, including two Olympic gold medals. In 2012, she was named the FIFA World Player of the Year, and she’s been the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year six times.
Credited for her bold strategic moves, Ellis, 48, has served as head coach of the team since last May.
A native of Portsmouth, England, she came to the U.S. in 1981 at age 15, and later headed up soccer teams at schools including the University of Illinois and UCLA, where she served for 12 years and landed her team in the NCAA Final Fours eight times, according to her official biography on the U.S. soccer team’s website.
Last year, she told Fox Sports the key to success is keeping her players evolving: “Because our game is evolving so rapidly, we can’t stay where we’re at. We’ve got to take the best of what we have and add more to it.”