With the U.S.A.’s first World Cup game coming up on Friday, it’s time for you all to listen up and understand why you should watch and cheer on the United States of America in the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Surprisingly enough, the USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) has not won the World Cup since 1999 when Brandi Chastain famously exposed her bra to the world after scoring the winning penalty kick goal against China. The only player left from that team (miraculously) is Christie Rampone. There’s no doubt that the Americans have had and continue to have one of the best teams in the world, but they have not been able to win the most important tournament of all in 16 years.
USWNT head coach Jill Ellis will try to accomplish just that. Starting with a strong back four and goalkeeper, Ellis saw great play leading up to the World Cup. During the recent World Cup Send-Off Series, the defense and goalkeeper Hope Solo only gave up 14 shots, with only 6 on goal, and Solo made 5 saves and gave up 1 goal in 270 minutes. Starting defenders Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, and Becky Sauerbrunn (along with Rampone) will need to continue their stellar play and keep the ball in the opponent’s half.
Looking at the midfield, there are a lot of question marks, especially on who the starters will be in the first match. Carli Lloyd seems to be one of the only clear starters, and a lot will depend on Megan Rapinoe’s injury. Morgan Brian and Christen Press struggled in the South Korea match in the Send-Off Series, and you would have to think Heather O’Reilly and Tobin Heath could be seeing the starting XI. The lack of clarity on the midfield situation is really troubling this close to the World Cup, and it makes sense for the USWNT to move to a 4-3-3 lineup with Rapinoe and Alex Morgan coming back.
Still, little doubt remains that the American forwards are the heart and soul of this team. Wambach is hungry to win her first World Cup, and Canadian “traitor” Sydney Leroux and Morgan are surely two of the USWNT’s best players. Throw in backup striker Amy Rodriguez and it’s difficult not to get all of these players in every match as they are all so talented. But, Wambach is getting up there in age, Leroux has struggled to finish and score goals, and Morgan has been bothered by this bone bruise on her left knee. Coach Ellis will be relying on these stars to perform, and hoping they can contribute in the midfield as well to help the inexperience there.
It all starts in group play, and the Yanks find themselves in this year’s “Group of Death” with #5 in the world Sweden, #10 Australia, and #35 Nigeria in Group D. The USWNT lost to Sweden in the 2011 World Cup, and the Swedish head coach is now 2011 USWNT World Cup coach Pia Sundhage, which will make a competitive match in itself. Not to mention Australia and Nigeria both have dangerous attacks that will challenge the stout U.S. defense and Solo. If the USWNT can advance out of said “Group of Death,” some soccer powerhouses will stand in their way: #1 ranked Germany, #3 France, #6 England, and #7 Brazil to name a few.
Should we be worried about the USWNT not winning it all? Yes, but I think some support from the people of the good old United States of America could go a long way. This past summer in the 2014 Men’s World Cup, the USMNT (United States Men’s National Team) got incredible support from its countrymen. The USWNT need this patriotism this June as well, as more spirit and hype for them can go a long way, as Wambach and Morgan mentioned on their B.S. Report with Bill Simmons.
Women’s soccer is one of the most exciting sports to watch in the Olympics, and that does not change in the World Cup. The USWNT still has arguably the best roster top to bottom in the world, and veterans like Wambach are hungry to bring home the trophy south from Canada.
Schedule – Group Play (via ussoccer.com – see full World Cup schedule here: http://www.ussoccer.com/womens-national-team/tournaments/2015-fifa-womens-world-cup#tab-4)
|June 8, 2015||7:30 PM ET||WNT vs Australia||Winnipeg Stadium; Winnipeg, Canada||FOX Sports 1, NBC Universo|
|June 12, 2015||8 PM ET||WNT vs Sweden||Winnipeg Stadium; Winnipeg, Canada||FOX, NBC Universo|
|June 16, 2015||8 PM ET||WNT vs Nigeria||BC Place; Vancouver, Canada||FOX, NBC Universo|