The World Cup is back.
Twenty-four countries will be in France to compete for the one of the greatest prizes in all of sports from June 7 to July 7. After a dominant victory in Vancouver four years ago, the US Women’s National Team looks to defend its title as world champions. They enter the tournament ranked No. 1 overall in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings. Germany, England, host nation France, and Canada join them in the top five. These five are sure to be some popular choices to reach the final in Lyon, but don’t forget about countries such as the Netherlands, Japan, and Australia who all could be dark horses in the tournament. Sam Kerr and Lieke Mertens are two of the best attackers in the world and they will surely look to shred defenses in France.
There are a lot of familiar faces in US team as coach Jill Ellis brings back a good chunk of players who lifted the trophy back in 2015. Tobin Heath is now the star of the show, but she isn’t alone in attacking help with the likes of Alex Morgan, Lindsey Horan, and Megan Rapinoe there to provide offensive support. Julie Ertz and Becky Sauerbrunn shore up the defense while Alyssa Naeher stands in goal.
Ellis will also have the luxury of having a very deep bench to call on for substitutions or lineup changes. Mallory Pugh and Sam Mewis can give relief on the wing and in midfield respectively. Christen Press is still a goalscoring machine and Carli Lloyd is an option to come off the bench. Yes, that Carli Lloyd.
It won’t be an easy path back to the final for the USWNT as they will have to face a flurry of good teams, including a possible matchup with host France in the quarterfinals. The USWNT are in a competitive group with Sweden, Thailand, and Chile. The US is expected to finish first in this group but this is the World Cup, anything can happen. The first game they play will be on Tuesday against Thailand at 3 p.m. ET.
It’s sure to be another exciting summer of soccer.