The United States will be playing for an unprecedented three-peat at the Women’s World Cup this summer. It won’t be easy for the world’s No. 1 team.
Co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the quadrennial tournament for international soccer’s most coveted trophy kicks off July 20 and features an expanded field of 32 teams, up from 24. There are 64 total matches during the tournament.
That means more competition for the two-time defending World Cup champion U.S., which won the 2015 event in Canada and the 2019 tournament in France. The Americans have won four titles overall, most of any nation.
What’s the schedule?
The 32 teams are divided into eight groups of four teams each. Each team plays a three-game, round-robin group stage, running from July 20 to Aug. 3.
The top finishers advance to the round of 16 from Aug. 5-8. The quarter-finals are set for Aug. 11-12 and the two semi-final matches will be played Aug. 15-16. A third-place game is set for Aug. 19 in Brisbane ahead of the final.
The final will air at 6 a.m. ET on Aug. 20.
Players to watch
There are two distinct groups of players to watch at this World Cup: Veteran superstars and talented youngsters.
Canada’s Christine Sinclair leads a group of veterans that includes Brazil’s Marta, Australia’s Sam Kerr, France’s Wendie Renard and American Alex Morgan.
Sinclair, who is 38 and likely playing in her final World Cup, is international soccer’s all-time leading scorer, among women or men, with 190 career goals.
Young stars include 22-year-old U.S. forward Sophia Smith, 21-year-old Jody Brown of Jamaica and 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay of Haiti.
Smith doubled up last year as both the U.S. Soccer Player of the Year and the National Women’s Soccer League’s Most Valuable Player.
The United States is a +270 favorite to win the World Cup, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. England is next at +340, followed by Spain at +650.
There’s also a big group of teams the oddsmakers say have little chance of lifting the trophy, including Jamaica, Vietnam, Argentina, Zambia, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Morocco, Philippines, South Africa, Haiti and Panama. All are at +43,000 – but if one of those happens to emerge as a Cinderella winner, the payoff would be sweet.