USWNT at the FIFA Women’s World Cup: Looking ahead at Group F

USWNT at the World Cup
ST. LOUIS, MO — MAY 16: Rose Lavelle #16 of the United States celebrates scoring with teammates during an international friendly between the women's national teams of the United States and New Zealand on May 16, 2019 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Brad Smith/isiphotos/Getty Images).

Editorial (May 29, 2019) — The United States Women’s National Team are going for four. In the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, only one team won the tournament back-to-back. However, in tournament history, no team has ever won back-to-back in correlation with their nation’s male team.

Germany was the only team to win back-to-back. Now, the United States is trying to follow suit with another victory and star for their jersey.

USWNT at the FIFA Women’s World Cup: Looking ahead at Group F

After winning the World Cup back in 2015, the United States saw some changes. Players like Abby Wambach, Christie Pearce-Rampone, Lauren Holiday and Shannon Boxx are no longer on the team and have retired. Meanwhile, defenders Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen were cast into no man’s land.

There’s always a tough competition for the 23 spots for the World Cup. Players like McCall Zerboni and Casey Short, who many thought would book their flight to France, did not make the cut.

There were shocks, there were surprises. More of that can come this summer in the World Cup. We’re taking a look at the United States Women’s National Team, the roster and their group in France.

The Full Roster

The United States will have a veteran-heavy roster. The average age for this roster is 28-years-old, which is the same as it was in 2015. However, this also means that the United States has the oldest average roster heading into the tournament.

Jill Ellis had some difficult decisions to make. As mentioned, she cut off Casey Short and McCall Zerboni when making her final selections, who were the most notable snubs. Talking to U.S. Soccer, Ellis said that selecting a World Cup roster is a “long” process.

“I want to thank the players – the ones that made the final team and the ones that didn’t – for all of their hard work over the past two and a half years,” Ellis said. “They all pushed each other in every training session and every game and challenged the coaches to make some tough decisions. These 23 players have been through adversity and success, and it’s a group that has the talent, confidence, experience and desire to help us win the World Cup.”

Who will start in France?

Jill Ellis seems to have her starting lineup down. The backline has solidified the starting four to be Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper partnering up at centerback. Meanwhile, Crystal Dunn, who features as an attacking player for the North Carolina Courage, is a left back defender. On the opposite side, Kelley O’Hara, when fit, normally starts at right back.

The shocking surprise on defense was the inclusion of Ali Krieger over Casey Short. While Krieger had not been part of the national team program for two years, she was called up for the April friendlies and featured against Belgium.

Meanwhile, in the midfield, Morgan Brian made the final roster over McCall Zerboni after, like Krieger, being out of the national team picture for a while. While it wasn’t exactly two years, Brian still missed a large quantity of time.

Rose Lavelle, Julie Ertz and Lindsey Horan have been regular starters in a three-person midfield. However, Ellis has been keen on switching out Horan or Lavelle for the likes of Sam Mewis.

Up top, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe won’t be losing their spots anytime soon. Christen Press is always a good option on the bench. Meanwhile, Carli Lloyd, who scored the infamous hat-trick against Japan in the 2015 final, is now a super substitute. Her club play in the last few years hasn’t been crisp and superior.

Meanwhile, Jessica McDonald, who had been getting more call-ups to the national team, received a slot on the World Cup roster.

Looking at the Group F Opponents

The United States has been included in arguably the easiest group in the World Cup. However, one big test stands in their way: Sweden.

The history goes far between these two clubs. However, it intensified in the last four years. Sweden and the United States met up during the 2015 World Cup during the group stage. The match ended in a scoreless draw. Meghan Klingenberg made the famous goal-line save with her head to keep a clean sheet.

However, during the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Sweden got revenge, stunning the United States on penalty kicks. That was the last time the USWNT saw Hope Solo at goalkeeper, after she called Swedish players “a bunch of cowards.”

Those words remained with Sweden. The last time the two sides met was aggressive and physical. However, in 2017, the United States earned a 1-0 victory in Sweden off a game-winning goal from Rose Lavelle.

Looking at Thailand and Chile

The other tests for the United States include group stage matches against Thailand and Chile. This is Chile’s first time featuring in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, for Thailand, this is their second tournament. They featured in the 2015 World Cup in Canada.

This past year hasn’t been kind to Thailand. Competing in the Cyprus Cup, Thailand recorded one victory over Hungary but picked up losses against Mexico, Italy and Nigeria. The Super Falcons will be heading to the World Cup, along with Italy. Meanwhile, in a recent friendly with France, who will host the World Cup, Thailand fell, 3-0.

They have one more friendly before the World Cup. On June 1, Thailand will take on Belgium. The Red Flames are also heading to the World Cup and will host the friendly.

Thailand featured against the United States back in September 2016. This was the first and only meeting between Thailand and the United States. The USWNT picked up a staggering 9-0 victory at MAPFRE Stadium, marking the loss as the biggest margin difference in international team history.

Meanwhile, Chile and the United States recently met up twice in August 2018. In their first meeting in Carson, California, Chile fell to the United States by three goals. However, a few days later, the United States added one more goal in a 4-0 victory. Just like Thailand, the series was the first-ever meeting between the United States and Chile.

In 2019, Chile has picked up plenty of draws, but no victories. Chile also featured against a number of teams heading to the World Cup, including CONCACAF team Jamaica.

The Matches

While the World Cup kicks off on June 7, the United States will not feature until June 11. First on the list is Thailand in Reims, France.

On June 16, the United States will take on Chile. Then, on June 21, the United States will face off with Sweden. This match could very-well decide who wins the group, depending on how both teams do against Thailand and Chile.

 

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