The five teams that are nominated for Olympic Team of the Year, presented by Dow, are all worthy of winning, but which one takes the award is partly up to you.
There are teams that won major titles for the first time in a long time, teams that haven’t stopped winning major titles for a long time and history-making, record-setting performances that make up some of the biggest moments of the past year.
The nominees are the U.S. Equestrian Jumping Team, the U.S. Women’s World Cup Soccer Team, the U.S. women’s softball team, the men’s world championship 4x100-meter team and the U.S. women’s water polo team.
Online fan voting accounts for 50 percent of the vote and closes end of day Monday, Oct. 28. The other 50 percent of the vote comes from members of the Olympic and Paralympic community. Award winners will be announced during the 2019 Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of the Year, held on Nov. 19 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. NBC will provide coverage of the awards show from 3-4 p.m. ET on Dec. 22.
Who will be the Olympic Team of the Year? Vote now at TeamUSA.org/Awards.
U.S. Jumping Team, Equestrian
Team Members: Laura Kraut, Devin Ryan, Adrienne Sternlicht and McLain Ward
What They Did This Year: In the fall of 2018, the U.S. won its first world jumping title since 1986 and secured a quota spot for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Why It Mattered: Any world title is huge, but when it’s the first in 32 years and it guarantees the team a spot in the Olympic Games, it’s even better.
Fun Fact: The 2018 world championship title was decided by jump-off for the first time, but it wasn’t Team USA’s first time winning gold that way. At the 2008 Olympic Games the U.S. team, including Ward and Kraut, beat Canada in a jump-off for the gold medal.
What’s Next: Riders are first looking for a spot on the U.S. Jumping Short List, which will be announced in April 2020, with ten horse and athlete combinations. From that list, four will be chosen to go to Tokyo (three competing and one reserve) based on events between May 1 and June 23, 2020.
U.S. Women’s World Cup Team, Soccer
Team Members: Morgan Brian, Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Adrianna Franch, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Ali Krieger, Rose Lavelle, Carli Lloyd, Allie Long, Jessica McDonald, Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan, Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O’Hara, Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbrunn and Emily Sonnett.
What They Did This Year: Went a perfect 7-0 en route to winning their second consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup. Rapinoe totaled six goals and three assists and won both the Golden Boot for top scorer and Golden Ball for best player and was named Best FIFA Women’s Player in September. Alex Morgan was the runner-up for the award and won the Silver Boot as the second-leading scorer.
Why It Mattered: Simply put, they made history. Their 13-0 win over Thailand was the largest margin of victory ever in a World Cup match, men’s or women’s, and their four total Women’s World Cup wins are now the most of any nation. The victory also made Jill Ellis the only coach to lead teams to two Women’s World Cup wins.
Fun Fact: Up until the final match against the Netherlands, the latest that the U.S. scored its first goal in any of its World Cup matches was the 12th minute. That happened against Thailand, when they scored in the 12th minute and went on to rack up an additional 12 goals.
What’s Next: The team recently wrapped up its Victory Tour and will play a pair of friendlies against Sweden and Costa Rica as they navigate life without head coach Ellis, who stepped down earlier this month.
U.S. Women’s National Team, Softball
Team Members: Monica Abbott, Ali Aguilar, Valerie Arioto, Kelly Barnhill, Kasey Cooper, Taylor Edwards, Rachel Garcia, Jazmyn Jackson, Sahvanna Jaquish, Haylie McCleney, Kirsti Merritt, Michelle Moultrie, Dejah Mulipola, Aubree Munro, Cat Osterman, Shelby Pendley, Danielle O’Toole, Janie Reed, Keilani Ricketts, Delaney Spaulding and Kelsey Stewart
What They Did This Year: After finishing the 2018 season with a 20-0 record, the No. 1 ranking in the world and a world championship title that locked down a spot at the Olympic Games, the team rolled into 2019 and picked up where it left off. The Americans won this year’s International Cup, Japan Cup and Pan American Games and became the first softball team to win nine Pan Am titles.
Why It Mattered: Softball hasn’t been on the Olympic program since 2008. Team USA isn’t looking just to return to the Games but to win the gold medal, and the last year’s string of wins is a good start.
Fun Fact: At 22 years old, Osterman was the youngest member of the softball team at the 2004 Olympic Games and Abbott was the youngest player on the 2008 team, at 23. In Tokyo, they’ll be the oldest players on the team. Osterman will be 37 and Abbott will turn 35 in Tokyo.
What’s Next: The U.S. will launch its “Stand Beside Her” tour, a series of practices and competitions in preparation for Tokyo beginning Feb. 7-9 with the NFCA Division I Leadoff Classic in Clearwater, Florida.
U.S. Men’s 4x100-meter Team, Track and Field
Team members: Christian Coleman, Justin Gatlin, Mike Rodgers and Noah Lyles
What They Did This Year: With 100-meter world champion Coleman kicking things off, former 100-meter world champion and three-time Olympian Gatlin running second, Olympic silver medalist Rodgers third and 200-meter world champion Lyles as the anchor, the U.S. team took gold at the 2019 world championships in the 4x100-meter with a time of 37.10 seconds.
Why It Mattered: The jinx is over. It was the first time the U.S. men won the 4x100-meter since 2007, and they set a new American record in the process. It was the third-fastest time in history behind the 2011 team from Jamaica that included Usain Bolt.
Fun Fact: It’s worth checking out Lyles’ socks next time he races (if he slows down enough to see them). In the past his socks have featured characters from Japanese anime, American cartoons, Star Wars and video games.
What’s Next: There’s no guarantee the foursome will be together in Tokyo, but it sure would be fun to watch them go back out and try to parlay this victory into Olympic gold.
U.S. Women’s National Team, Water Polo
Team Members: Rachel Fattal, Aria Fischer, Makenzie Fischer, Brigitta Games, Kaleigh Gilchrist, Stephania Haralabidis, Paige Hauschild, Ashleigh Johnson, Amanda Longan, Maddie Musselman, Jamie Neushul, Kiley Neushul, Jordan Raney, Melissa Seidemann, Maggie Steffens, Gabby Stone and Alys Williams
What They Did This Year: Won basically everything. They took gold at the 2018 FINA World Cup, won the 2019 FINA World League Super Final, took gold at the Pan American Games and won their third consecutive world title.
Why It Mattered: No water polo team, men’s or women’s, had ever won three consecutive world titles before now, and the longest winning streak in the Olympic era of women’s water polo lives on. Also, not that it was ever in doubt that they’d qualify for Tokyo, but the women made it official with the World League Super Final win.
Fun Fact: Just how long is their streak, you ask? They’ve won their last 59 games in a row and have a jaw-dropping record of 99-2 since winning gold at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
What’s Next: The U.S. will host Canada, the Netherlands, Italy and Russia at Princeton University for the Holiday Cup Dec. 16-21, and next year Indianapolis will be the site of the FINA Men’s and Women’s Intercontinental Tournament beginning April 28.