You’re amped for the Women’s World Cup. You love soccer. You love the women who play it. And you love following international competitions where only ONE team can come out the winner.
But the problem is that even in the United States, where we’ve had more than 40 years since Title IX, women’s sports only receive 4 percent of all sports coverage. So, while you want to watch with all the same intensity and interest as last year’s Men’s World Cup, you need a little help getting your footing. It’s probably not your fault. It’s just the patriarchy.
Fear not, fam. I got you.
Yes, the U.S. Women’s National Team are the defending champs and favorites to win the Cup, with the odds set at 7-4. But France (7-2), Germany (11-2), and England (7-1) are right behind, nipping at their cleated heels. And France, which is the No. 4-ranked team in the world, is playing at home, so they’ll have maximum support from the crowd. This is not going to be a cake walk by any stretch. And that is, universally speaking, a good thing.
As parity in women’s athletics continues to grow, so does the global competition. We’ve seen more and more women in sport across the globe, and national leagues in France, the UK, and the U.S. are finally gaining some traction.
So, while I believe that we will win, I’m not getting too cocky out here. The USWNT has work to do.
Before moving on to the Knockout Stage of the tournament, the USWNT will have to take care of business in the Group Stage against Thailand, Chile, and Sweden.
On Tuesday (June 11 at 3:00 P.M. EST), the USWNT will open up against Thailand. The U.S. won 9-0 in their only previous match up with Thailand (a 2016 friendly), and the line—in a soccer game—is set at 4.5. That’s a bigger margin than most football or basketball games. This is a statement game in which the USWNT must absolutely dominate, to set the tone for what they plan to do in France this year.
The USWNT is expected to beat Chile, a young side who have made it to their first-ever World Cup. But the last game in the Group Stage is against No. 9-ranked Sweden, a legitimate contender who should not be taken lightly. In case of a draw against Sweden, the U.S. side will need a better goal differential to win the group. While two teams in every group will go through, who the USWNT faces in the Knockout Stage depends on whether, so the USWNT will want to be in more control of their destiny.
Now this is what a complete roster looks like: lockdown defenders, composed midfielders, and explosive scorers. To know the USWNT roster is to love them for their chemistry, athleticism, and technical proficiency.
In particular, pay attention to midfielders Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, and Megan Rapinoe—key playmakers and pace-setters for the team. Up top, expect plenty of razzle dazzle from Tobin Heath’s footwork, as well as Alex Morgan’s extraordinary work ethic and nose for the goal. And in the back, vets like Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara know how to shut it down.
The only question mark is who plays between the sticks. The USWNT will likely put Alyssa Naeher as the starting goalkeeper, but none have impressed or dominated like Hope Solo.
Okay, so now you know plenty about the USWNT. But who else is attending this international affair? And whose names will you hear on the broadcast?
BRAZIL / Marta
AUSTRALIA / Sam Kerr
ENGLAND / Nikita Parris
GERMANY / Dzenifer Marozsán
FRANCE / Amandine Henry
One woman will be heard but not seen. Norway’s best player, Ada Hegerberg, has decided not to play for No. 12-ranked Norway since 2017. Hegerberg is a global soccer star who won France’s Ballon d’Or (the first time it was ever awarded to women) last year after playing for Olympique Lyonnais. But she is sitting out the Women’s World Cup in protest, because she believes that Norway does not show enough respect to women’s sports.
It’s a bold move. Imagine Tim Howard sitting out a World Cup. Imagine Allyson Felix sitting out an Olympics. An athlete’s career is only so long, and a World Cup only comes around every 4 years. Hegerberg is in her prime and this would have been a chance to shine on a world stage. But for the future of women’s soccer in Norway, her absence will be more impactful than her presence.
So, there you have it folks. You’re primed and ready. And so is the USWNT. Get in on the discussion and action by tweeting us your predictions at @thepromptmag.