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TOC Guide To The Women’s World Cup

Can the Americans threepeat?

Wales v United States Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/USSF/Getty Images for USSF

Over the last couple of weeks, I have shared with you my favorite MSU players of all-time and my favorite game I’ve ever watched. Now let me drop some lines about my absolute favorite sporting event. I say this with complete sincerity. The best sporting event in the world is the World Cup. Now I was not a writer for TOC when the men’s tournament happened in 2022 and who knows if I will still be writing here for the next one in 2026. So this may be my only chance to do an article like this.

I had the good fortune of attending the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I spent four weeks down there, visiting a few of the cities that were hosting games and going to a few games in person. Obviously, Brazil is an amazing country and I would have had a great time even if there was no World Cup going on. But having had this event as the centerpiece of my vacation just took it to an 11 out of 10. The atmosphere in a city during game days is electric. People from all over the world are there, all eager to interact with others from places afar. The displays of patriotism are unrivaled and unbridled. It’s not just limited to the countries in that game, though obviously that is the majority once you get heading to the stadium. Actually, it’s not even limited to countries competing in the tournament; I would regularly see individuals proudly waving their home flags despite the fact that their country didn’t even qualify for the tournament.

And since this is the #1 sport in the world, the fanaticism once the game kicks off is so much more intense than a sporting event here in America. It feels like the whole stadium is a student section with everyone on their feet singing and chanting and dancing and jumping. Men and women, young and old, everyone is going all out. And I haven’t even gotten to the costumes that some fans make for themselves.

If you call yourself a sports fan, you owe it to yourself to make it to a World Cup in your lifetime. Good news for you all (who live in North America), you won’t have to travel far for the 2026 Mens’ Cup. But this is 2023, and right now it’s about the women. And this World Cup just may be in the farthest possible location from the USA. In less than 48 hours, 32 countries will begin a one-month competition to determine who are the queens of futbol. The games will be in Australia and New Zealand. This also happens to be the largest field ever for a Women’s World Cup, with the two most recent versions only having 24 teams. If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you know the American women have one the last two World Cups, as well as 4 of the 8 ever. So here is a brief breakdown discussing their chances of hoisting a third consecutive trophy.

Is this USA team as good as the last 2 that won the World Cup?

The US Women’s National Team is definitely in a transition period right now, and that will probably continue until the 2027 Cup. The three biggest names from the 2019 team were Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, and Alex Morgan. Well, Lloyd is retired, Rapinoe is a reserve, and Morgan, at age 34, is probably at the end of her peak. Rapinoe and Morgan will most likely be leaving the National Team after this competition. In addition to them, several players are missing this competition due to injury, including a few who were on the 2019 team. This has led to a roster with 14 players making their World Cup debut. It will be up to the veterans, what few there are, to help the rookies not get caught up in the moment.

Even though there are a lot of new faces, there is also some solid new talent. Perhaps the two biggest new names to know are Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman (daughter of Dennis), both of whom are forwards. They may become the biggest names on the USWNT once the current transition is complete. If the younger women can step up and fill the roles they are being asked to successfully, then yes, this version of the USWNT can be as good as the last two.

What other countries are the biggest challengers?

While the USA is the betting favorite to win again, there are a few other countries that will pose credible threats. The fact of the matter is that the sport of women’s soccer is vastly improved over where it was 10 and 20 years ago, and there are more top teams now than ever before. A look at the top challengers will largely resemble the men’s game, with England, Spain, Germany, and France rounding out the top five with the best odds. Those countries represent 3 of the last 4 men’s World Cup winners, and all four have at least one men’s championship. Co-host Australia should also be taken seriously. In addition to getting to play on their home fields (all three of their group games are in Australia and the final is in Sydney), they also have arguably the best player in the game at the moment, striker Sam Kerr. And yes, in this sport where goals are few, often having the best offensive weapon can be the decisive factor.

Are there any dark horses?

There are always a couple surprises at a World Cup, with a team or two defying the odds to get out of group. And anything can happen in a knockout game, especially if there is a good goaltender involved and the game goes to penalty kicks. Well, if we are going to do this based on goalies, then look out for Canada (Kailen Sheridan), Netherlands (Daphne van Domselaar), and Nigeria (Chiamaka Nnadozie).

Final Prediction:

I think the sportsbooks will have their two favorites in the championship game on August 20, with the USA going up against England. It will be an all-English-speaking final in another English-speaking country. While both teams are missing some of the players they were hoping to have Down Under, the women that they each have available should be enough to carry them to the final. And in the end, just like the men’s final last year, it will go through regulation, through extra time, and ultimately be decided in penalty kicks. But unlike the result in 1999 when the US beat China in PKs to claim the Cup, this time around England’s goalie, Mary Earps, who is widely regarded as the best netminder in the world, will be the difference. England will stop the USWNT’s quest for a threepeat and will be crowned champions.

Enjoy the games, everyone. And right after the completion of this tournament, American football begins!