Power Ranking the USWNT Pregnancies

With the news today that USWNT striker Alex Morgan is expecting her first child, KeeperNotes.com is republishing an article from spring 2016, with some updates from the original version.

For nearly 25 years, USWNT players have demonstrated that having a baby doesn’t necessarily end a professional soccer career – and in some cases, those new moms have come back to the pitch with a vengeance, as in the case of Amy Rodriguez’s 13-goal NWSL season in 2014 after having her first kid. So in honor of the latest USWNT pregnancy, here’s an unofficial power ranking of all USWNT pregnancies of players who earned a cap *after* giving birth.

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1. JOY FAWCETT

239 caps, 27 goals

WWC: 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003

Olympics: 1996, 2000, 2004
The original USWNT soccer mom, defender Joy Fawcett set the standard for coming back to the team after having a kid. Just weeks after giving birth to her first daughter Katey in 1994, she practiced with the national team. Not only did she make the 1995 WWC team the following year, she also made the next two Women’s World Cup squads after having her second daughter Carli (1997) and third daughter Maddie (2001).
Fawcett played on three consecutive Olympic squads, and converted the second penalty kick in the 1999 WWC final shootout. Side note: Fawcett’s eldest daughter Katey played for the Washington Huskies.

 

2. CHRISTIE RAMPONE
311 caps, 4 goals
WWC: 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015
Olympics: 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012

Defender Christie Rampone twice took a break from international soccer to have a baby – daughter Rylie in 2005 and daughter Reece in 2010. Both times she returned to the squad and made the following Women’s World Cup and Olympic tournaments. In 2015 she became the oldest field player to appear in a Women’s World Cup FINAL?, at age 40. She captained the USWNT from 2008 to 2015, and also won the inaugural WPS championship in 2009 as captain & coach of Sky Blue FC (and oh yeah, she was three months pregnant at time).

 

3. CARLA OVERBECK
168 caps, 7 goals
WWC: 1991, 1995, 1999
Olympics: 1996, 2000

Overbeck was captain of the 1999 USWNT that won the Women’s World Cup, taking the first kick in the famous PK shootout at the Rose Bowl. She had followed Joy Fawcett’s lead and had her first child in the “off-season” between the 1996 Olympics and the 1999 WWC tourney – son Jackson in 1997. Althought she retired from international play at the end of 2000, she played three seasons in the WUSA, coming back for the final season in 2003 after the birth of daughter Carson that spring. Overbeck has been assistant coach for Duke soccer since 1992.

 

4. AMY RODRIGUEZ
132 caps, 30 goals
WWC: 2011, 2015
Olympics: 2008, 2012

The USWNT striker missed the inaugural NWSL season in 2013 due to her first pregnancy. Rodriguez gave birth to son Ryan that summer, and after being traded to FC Kansas City from Seattle, she tore up the field, scoring 13 goals in 22 regular season games. She also scored the game-winner in the NWSL championship game in both 2014 and 2015. Rodriguez returned to USWNT play in 2014, and earned a spot on the 2015 WWC squad. She appeared in two WWC matches in 2015, but missed 2016 to have her second child. She returned again in 2017 to earn her final international cap in early April before tearing her ACL a few weeks later.

 


5. KATE MARKGRAF
201 caps, 1 goal
WWC: 1999, 2003, 2007
Olympics: 2000, 2004, 2008

Kate Markgraf was a fixture on the USWNT backline from 1998 until she stepped away from the game to have her first child, son Keegan, in 2006. She returned to the USWNT and was a starter in both the 2007 Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Olympics. In the summer of 2009, she gave birth to twins, but once again returned to the field, playing the 2010 WPS season with the Chicago Red Stars. Her solid play earned her another call-up to the USWNT, and she got her final caps in the summer of 2010, becoming one of just 11players in the history of the team to pass the 200-cap mark. The USWNT rule about providing salary for players on maternity leave is casually known as the Markgraf Rule. She was recently named first-ever general manager of the USWNT.

 

6. KRISTINE LILLY
354 caps, 130 goals
WWC: 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007
Olympics: 1996, 2000, 2004

Earning her first USWNT cap just days after her 16th birthday, Kristine Lilly played until she was 39 – and likely would have continued if she had not missed the 2011 Women’s World Cup due to the birth of her second daughter. She had already missed the 2008 Olympics for the birth of her first daughter at the age of 37, but came back to earn multiple caps for the team in 2009 and 2010, including WWC qualifying. Lilly holds the world record for most international caps (male or female) with 354, and is fourth on the all-time scoring list with 130 goals (behind Wambach, Sinclair and Hamm).

 

7. SHANNON BOXX
195 caps, 27 goals
WWC: 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015
Olympics: 2004, 2008, 2012

Shannon Boxx was planning on heading to grad school in the fall of 2003, but the Women’s World Cup got in the way. After three solid seasons in the WUSA, Boxx earned her first call-up to a USWNT camp and was named to the 2003 USWNT squad for the Women’s World Cup before earning her first cap. After three WWC tourneys and three Olympics, Boxx gave birth to her daughter Zoe in 2014 at the age of 36, and returned in 2015 to make the USWNT for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. She retired that fall.

 

8. STEPHANIE COX
89 caps
WWC: 2007, 2011
Olympics: 2008

Stephanie Cox earned a spot on the 2007 Women’s World Cup team at the age of 21, and won a gold medal with the squad at the 2008 Olympics. She was also a member of the 2011 WWC team. Cox didn’t make the 2012 Olympic team, and gave birth to daughter Kaylee in spring 2013. She returned to the field that summer, suiting up for the Seattle Reign in NWSL, and earned additional caps for the USWNT in late 2013 and 2014. She retired from soccer in 2015 … and then un-retired this year to suit up for Reign FC, where she has been working as assistant coach.

 

9. DANIELLE FOTOPOULOS
35 caps, 16 goals
WWC: 1999

Twice Danielle Fotopoulos came back from an ACL injury to make the USWNT, and twice she came back from having a baby to earn more caps. Fotopoulos first tore her ACL in a 1997 national team camp, but bounced back and earned a spot on the team that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Cut from the team when April Heinrichs took over in early 2000, Fotopoulos gave birth to daughter Lexi that year, but returned to play all three seasons in the WUSA and earn USWNT caps in 2002.

She tore her ACL again in 2003 and gave birth to son Will in 2004, but came back again to earn more caps in 2005 under coach Greg Ryan. After tearing her ACL for a third time in 2006, she retired from soccer. Fotopoulos still holds the NCAA record for total career goals (118), and scored the game-winning goal in the 1998 NCAA final, leading Florida to its first NCAA title.

 

10. TINA ELLERTSON
34 caps, 1 goal
WWC: 2007

Tina Ellertson had been accepted to Santa Clara when she learned she was pregnant. She had daughter Mackenzie and then joined the team at the University of Washington, where she was teammates with Hope Solo. The pair led the Huskies to the program’s only Elite Eight appearance in the NCAA tournament (2004). Ellertson earned a spot on the 2007 Women’s World Cup team, but later missed the 2008 Olympics when she became pregnant with her second child. She returned for the team’s Victory Tour that fall, earning her final USWNT caps and scoring her first and only international goal.

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