Women’s World Cup Preview

Women’s World Cup Preview

Photo Credits: KATHERINE FRANKS / AGGIE

Defending champion United States Women’s National Soccer Team prepares for 2019 run

Entering the 2019 World Cup as defending champions and favorites, the United States Women’s soccer team (USWNT) undeniably has a reputation to uphold. The U.S. became the first nation to win the Women’s World Cup three times when the Americans defeated Japan, 5-2, in the 2015 World Cup final. USA’s Carli Lloyd scored the fastest hat trick in Women’s World Cup history in that match and will play an essential role in USWNT’s surge for its fourth title this summer.

The opening game of the tournament will feature two worldwide powerhouses: France and South Korea. France is the second-highest favored team in the tournament (7-2 odds) behind only the U.S., which is listed at 2-1 odds. South Korea, even after playing well recently, is still a longshot to win the title, at 60-1 odds.

This year, although there are many teams with high odds to win the cup, there are two teams that have virtually zero chance of advancing, let alone winning it all: Jamaica and Thailand. These small countries and others will have much to prove throughout this lengthy tournament.

This year’s tournament in France will be the eighth ever Women’s World Cup, with only four teams having won the title before: the U.S., Germany, Norway and Japan — with the Americans and the Germans capturing five of the seven trophies. But surging teams like France and England are on the hunt for their first championship, with both teams possessing a handful of young, eager newcomers.

Fortunately for them, they have company in the U.S., with the Americans compiling a roster of veteran talent alongside a handful of fresh faces. The most notable absence from USWNT’s ranks will be Hope Solo, the stalwart goalkeeper who has anchored the team for the last decade. Since the goalkeeper decided to step away from international play in 2016, three keepers have been competing for the starting spot, with 31-year-old Alyssa Naeher seemingly separating from the other two. With 44 career international appearances, Naeher possesses the experience necessary to compete on the world stage.

On the other hand, the U.S. has brought up numerous prodigal, young stars that look to give the team some added firepower. Last season’s National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) MVP Lindsey Horan looks to make a name for herself on the international stage after having undoubtedly the best stretch of her career over the last two calendar years.

Alongside the 24-year-old Horan, 21-year-old Mallory Pugh and 20-year-old Tierna Davidson further compliment a roster full of veterans. Pugh has steadily improved and garnished some attention, especially after she compiled over 50 international caps before her 21st birthday.

Then of course, rounding out the 23-player roster, there are USWNT’s star players that have already done so much to capture the hearts of millions. These names include the likes of striker Alex Morgan, winger Megan Rapinoe and midfielder Julie Ertz, who are all seeking to lead the team to its first ever back-to-back titles.

The tournament kicks off Friday, June 7, but the U.S. will open its World Cup run on June 11 against Thailand. The Americans won’t have to wait much longer to prove they are still the world’s best soccer team.

Written by: AJ Seymour — sports@theaggie.org

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