The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins this Friday, June 7 in France, but for the United States Women’s National Team, the journey to bring home another title doesn’t start until June 11. The Stars & Stripes come into the tournament ranked No. 1 in the FIFA international rankings and with good reason. In the year of preparation leading up to the World Cup, the United States won 18 games, drew twice and scored 65 goals in route to claiming the top spot in CONCACAF qualifying.
It’s been a long journey to get to the tournament. One hundred and forty teams began the journey to France in the spring of 2017 and now the field is down to the final 24 squads. Let’s take a look at what you can expect to see from the United States during the Women’s World Cup.
Where it’s played
This year’s tournament is being played throughout France at nine premier venues across the country. Fans will witness matches at notables pitches such as the Parc Des Princes (home to Paris Saint Germain) and even stretching as far south as the French coastal town of Nice.
The head coach
As was the case in the last World Cup, Jill Ellis returns to sidelines for the 2019 tournament. During this World Cup cycle, Ellis called 50 players into camp and awarded 15 women their first cap for the Stars & Stripes. This process allowed her to set up a United States squad with a blend of youth and experience capable of defending their crown. Fans will see some familiar faces, along with some new ones when the tournament kicks off.
Here are three players to familiarize yourself with before the tournament:
Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher stepped into a massive void left by former shot-stopper Hope Solo following the 2015 World Cup. She was named the starting goalkeeper after just having one cap to her name. Fans experienced apprehension when Solo departed the national team but Naeher stepped in and quickly quashed any fears.
The 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year with the Chicago Red Stars demonstrated agility, aggressiveness and great mental toughness as she secured and held on to the No. 1 shirt for the United States.
Defender Ali Krieger has enjoyed a long and prosperous career in professional soccer. Following her collegiate playing days at Penn State, the defender made the journey to Germany to begin playing the game professionally in Frankfurt. She made a pit-stop in Sweden before coming home to the NWSL as a member of her hometown Washington Spirit. A trade three seasons later saw Krieger move south to Orlando, Florida. The defender joined United States standouts Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux-Dwyer playing for the Orlando Pride.
It’s been a long time since fans last saw Krieger compete in international competition but thankfully the drought is over. Ellis made waves across the women’s soccer world when she called in the 34-year-old defender after Krieger remained largely out of favor with the manager in recent years.
Krieger has 100 caps to her credit and was on the field for all but 10 minutes during the 2015 tournament in Canada.
New fans to the women’s game can expect to see an outside back with a constant drive to get forward. She will not be beaten by her mark and possesses freaky athleticism. She makes a habit of dispossessing attacking players after making 50-yard recovery runs.
Ohio’s own Rose Lavelle is ready to make an impact in the 2019 World Cup. Along with midfielder Tobin Health, the Cincinnati native beings creativity to the Stars & Stripes attack. She’s capable of unleashing cracking shots from anywhere on the pitch and her subtle body feints and step overs can make the best defenders look foolish.
Lavelle played competitively at just about every level in the Buckeye State, eventually leading her to the University of Wisconsin before being drafted No. 1 overall in the NWSL draft. Making just 27 appearances for the United States, Lavelle has seven goals and four assists to her credit, but she is known for making a statement when she scores.
It’s not unrealistic to think that Lavelle could leave France with some hardware in recognition for her efforts during the upcoming tournament.
Group Stage (All times Eastern Standard)
All group stage games will be broadcast on FOX and streamed on Fox Sports Go. Make sure to follow along with Massive Report as the United States attempt to become four time Women’s World Cup Champions.