When a professional sports player makes an international appearance, it is called a cap. The United Kingdom originated this term in the late 1800s when they would give a physical cap to every one of their players who participated in an international soccer match. Soccer was called “football” and continues to be called football in Europe.
The number of caps indicates how many times a player represented their country around the world. Players who achieve more caps are honoured and cherished in their league. In the entire history of soccer, approximately 352 female players have earned over 100 caps. The record holder is an American soccer player named Kristine Lilly, with 354 caps in total.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is the official international football governing body that keeps track of player caps. Players don’t really start to receive recognition for their caps until they’ve surpassed 200 caps in total. That puts players in the exclusive 200-cap club. Only 23 female soccer players have reached 200 caps, with 11 of the players being Americans.
Below are the top 6 U.S. women players with over 200 caps.
1) Kristine Lilly - 354 Caps
Kristine Lilly is the cap record holder for female soccer players from the United States. After her last cap on November 5th, 2010, Kristine had accumulated 354 caps. Now more than ten years later, no other female soccer player has broken this record.
She played in Women’s Professional Soccer for the Boston Breakers. Her 23-year run on the U.S. National Team allowed her to achieve as many caps as she did. Although, she didn’t score the most goals of all time. Her 130-goal record puts her in third place behind Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach.
2) Christie Pearce - 311 caps
Christie Pearce played as a defender in four Olympic soccer tournaments and five finals in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She was also the captain of the U.S. women’s national soccer team. Her accomplishments include three Olympic gold medals and two world championship wins at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Christie’s last cap was on September 20th, 2015. She retired after reaching 311 caps. Before her retirement, Christie had been the oldest soccer player to compete in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. But that record was later surpassed by a Brazilian footballer named Formiga.
3) Carli Lloyd - 300 caps
Carli Lloyd is a professional midfielder in the National Women’s Soccer League. She played for NJ/NY Gotham FC and on the U.S. National Team. Her accomplishments include two Olympic gold medals and two FIFA Women’s World Cup championships.
As of June 13th, 2021, Carli has approximately 302 caps. She is 1 of 3 American women to reach the even more exclusive 300-cap club. And her drive to succeed and break records has not stopped. At 39 years old, Carli is the oldest female soccer player to compete on the U.S. National Team in the Olympics.
4) Mia Hamm - 276 caps
Mia Hamm had reached 276 caps after her last cap on December 8th, 2004. She earned two Olympic gold medals and won two FIFA Women’s Cup championships. Her nearly three-decade professional soccer career lasted from 1987 all the way to 2004.
When the Women’s United Soccer Association was started in February 2000, Mia was one of its founding players. Her icon status in women’s professional soccer has made her a legend around the world.
5) Julie Foudy - 274 caps
Julie Foudy was a professional soccer midfielder who won two Olympic gold medals and two FIFA Women’s World Cup championships.
Julie played on the U.S. women’s national soccer team for 16 years, from 1988 to 2004. Her cap record was almost in sync with Mia’s record. Julie had reached 274 caps after her last cap was on December 8th, 2004.
Mia and Julie were inducted at the same time into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.
6) Abby Wambach - 255 caps
Abby Wambach is the highest scoring professional female soccer player of all time. Her 184-goal record has never been surpassed by any other professional male or female soccer player. She has also earned two Olympic gold medals and one FIFA Women’s World Cup championship.
It only took 14 years for Abby to reach 255 caps. Her last cap was on December 16th, 2015. When Abby retired, Time Magazine listed her as one of the world’s top 100 most influential people