In contrast, the U.S. Women's National Team has won the Women's World Cup twice (1991 and 1999), and that was before the existence of any professional domestic soccer league for women.
But on the heels of the 1999 World Cup win, the Women's United Soccer Association was born.
Now in its second season, the eight-team WUSA's impact is already seen in the college game.
"I think the impact is more players are working harder," said North Carolina women's soccer coach Anson Dorrance. "There's an additional incentive now for a player who wouldn't make the national team but could play professionally."
Female collegiate soccer players are more motivated because they know they have something to go on to, whereas just five years ago, "all you had was the national team, or go find another job," said Tiffany Roberts, a former UNC player and member of the Carolina Courage.
"It was such a small window" to make the national team, Dorrance said. With the WUSA, he said, "Now there's a wonderful opportunity for every kid who's hard-working and ambitious."
As the WUSA calls itself the "world's premier women's professional soccer league," it must showcase premier talent, which it does with the likes of Tiffany Milbrett, Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm.
That talent, however, needs to be cultivated, a task that falls on college and youth coaches. But it is a task Dorrance feels no additional pressure to fulfill.
"We've always had tremendous pride in player development," Dorrance said. "We're always in the luxurious position of recruiting the most talented players."