The two North American representatives will kick off next week with Canada playing their first match on Monday, June 10th against Cameroon. The United States, on the other hand, will play against Thailand on Tuesday, June 10th to open their tournament schedule.
For those new to the women’s tournament, this is the 8th edition of Women’s World Cup that began back in 1991 and has, like the men’s, been played every four years since then. As noted before, France is the host country for 2019, making this the first time the country has hosted. Previous iterations have been hosted by China (1991 and 2007), the USA (1999 and 2003), Sweden (1995), Germany (2011), and Canada in 2015.
2019, like the 2015 edition, will have a 24-team format compared to the 12-team that was used the first two years, and the 16 team one used from 1999-2011. This results in the tournament being broken down into six groups of four teams each. The top two teams of each group along with the best four, 3rd place teams will advance to the 16 team knockout stage that begins June 22nd. A huge change that will take place in this year is the addition of VAR, something that was also used in the 2018 men’s World Cup and is currently used in MLS but not in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The US enters 2019 as the defending champions having won the tournament in 2015 as well as 1991 and 1999, the most by any nation. The American women look to continue their run of dominance in the tournament as they have never finished lower than 3rd (1995, 2003, 2007) bookending the competitions with a 2nd place finish in 2011. The USWNT will be lead by coach Jill Ellis who managed the team to their dominant and unbeaten (6 wins and 1 draw) 2015 World Cup victory. Every single player on the USWNT comes from an NWSL club with Chicago Red Stars, North Carolina Courage, and Portland Thorns all supplying four players each to Team USA.
Roster depth is stacked to the brim with the three goalkeepers combining for 68 caps for the USWNT along with all three being on the NWSL Best XI and having won Goalkeeper of the Year at least once each. In front of the goal the defenders are lead by veteran Becky Sauerbrunn, who has 158 USWNT appearances, has been the NWSL Defender of the Year three times and on the NWSL Best XI every year of the leagues existence. The rest of the defenders also have a lot of experience as well combining for 397 USWNT appearances, another NWSL Defender of the Year award and 7 more Best XI appearances. Another key on defense will be Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage) who also won the NWSL MVP and Golden Boot in 2015.
An experienced core of players will lead the midfield which features 2017 NWSL Championship MVP, 2018 NWSL MVP and Best XI player Lindsey Horan. All six midfielders combine for five Best XI appearances and 354 USWNT caps. On the attack they will be lead very much by Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, and Christen Press who combine for a whopping 553 appearances and 259 goals for Team USA. All three have huge accomplishments on their resumes with Lloyd being named to the FIFPro World XI twice, FIFA World XI once and being name FIFA’s Best Women’s Player in 2015. Morgan has also been named to the FIFPro World XI twice while Press was the 2011 Women’s Pro Soccer (one of many precursors to the NWSL) Rookie of the Year and to the NWSL Best XI three times. The remaining four forwards have a combined 363 appearances, 92 goals, two NWSL Best XI appearances, and two NWSL Championship MVP awards.
The US isn’t the only team able to win the World Cup as they’ll have to compete with two-time champion Germany and the 2011 Champion and 2015 runner-up Japan for the right to hoist the trophy. While Germany has won twice they've also finished second once and in fourth twice. Japan has been a relative newcomer to the championship scene only having reached it for the first time in 2011 and never having finished in the top four previously. Norway, Sweden, China, Brazil, Canada, France, and England have also all finished in the top four with only Norway winning it in 1995.
Stay tuned to E Pluribus Loonum for updates on the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup for the US Women’s National Team and all other tournament events. It starts on Friday, June 7th between France and Korea and you can catch all the games on FOX, FS1, FS2, and Fox Sports GO.
What do you make of the USWNT’s chances? What other teams or players will you be watching? Let us know in the comments section below!