JJ Watt’s wife, former professional soccer star Kealia, finds silver lining in ‘sad’ USWNT World Cup loss
The United States Women’s National Team was the favorite to win this year’s Women’s World Cup, which would have been their third straight.
But after poor performances in the group stage, the writing was on the wall for an early exit, and that’s exactly what came to pass.
Sweden knocked out the United States in the Round of 16 after penalty kicks, stunning the soccer world.
The loss marked the first time in Women’s World Cup history that they did not make the semifinals and the first time since 2007 that they did not make the final.
It may have been a disappointing end for the United States, but Kealia Watt, a former professional women’s soccer player and the wife of NFL legend J.J. Watt, found a positive in the negative.
“It’s such a powerhouse organization, but I think it shows how good all these countries are getting and all these players that are developing, they’re putting money into their programs now. I think that women’s soccer is just getting really big across the world,” Watt told Fox News Digital in a recent interview.
She’s not wrong. Their first match against Vietnam was one of the most-watched Women’s World Cup group stage contests on English-language television.
In total, the match averaged more than 5.2 million viewers throughout the night, marking it the second-most viewed group stage game in the Women’s World Cup.
The only match with more average viewers was the 2019 USWNT’s game against Chile – the United States won, 3-0, to advance to the Round of 16. The match peaked at 6,552,000 viewers between 10:45 p.m. and 11 p.m.
The USWNT had 14 newcomers to World Cup action but also nine players who had played on the sport’s biggest stage in the past. Several of those players are friends of the Watts, perhaps none other than Julie Ertz, whose husband, Zach, was a teammate of J.J.’s in Arizona with the Cardinals. Julie recently announced her retirement from professional soccer.
Shortly after the loss, the team’s manager, Vlatko Andonovski, resigned.
Despite the team’s early exit, Kealia says they’ll be back in 2027 with a vengeance.
“We were so sad. We have a lot of close friends on the team. We’d never bet against the U.S. women’s national team there …” she said. “It’s hard to see. They work so hard, and they’re some of the best players in the world, but I think other countries are developing, and we’ll be back better than ever. I never bet against them.”