Plenty of stars, storylines in France as defending champ U.S. goes for its 4th title
Aficionados of soccer have felt that this year’s Women’s World Cup in France could be a game-changer in global popularity and quality of play.
You’ve got the defending champion and top-ranked team in the world in the United States, a host team that plays some of the most entertaining soccer on the planet, a skilled, pacey striker from Australia who is a moving headache for defenders and goalkeepers, and as many as eight teams that can win it all.
The 24-team tournament kicks off Friday and runs through July 7. The top two teams from each of the six groups will qualify for the Round of 16, as will the top four third-place teams.
In contrast to Canada 2015, which was played on artificial turf, France 2019 will use honest-to-goodness green grass.
(WWC-record 15 goals), can’t be counted out because of its imposing individual talent, but historically falls short.
9. Sweden has been a thorn in the Americans’ side, having eliminated them in the 2016 Rio quarterfinals.
10. Much-improved and dark horse Spain should not be taken lightly.
Trying for fourth Players to watch (U.S.)
Striker Alex Morgan, whose effectiveness in the 2015 WWC was hampered by a knee injury, is healthy. Megan Rapinoe, who turns 34 on July 5, has her brilliant moments. But can she be an impact player in seven games over 27 days (the USA’s opener is the latest start date, June 11)? Forward Tobin Heath doesn’t look imposing but is one tough cookie. Carli Lloyd, the 2015 Golden Boot winner, has been relegated to the bench as a super-sub (she’s 36). She’ll be out to prove coach Jill Ellis wrong and could become a lethal weapon down the stretch.
Players to watch (rest)
Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe and the rest of the U.S. women’s team will defend their title at the World Cup in France.