As the Women’s World Cup approaches, we check in with the world’s most decorated women’s soccer team, the US Women’s National Team.
For years, the USWNT in the World Cup has been a force to be reckoned with, clinching four titles, most recently in the 2015 and 2019 tournaments.
And boy, was the USWNT World Cup final against the Netherlands one to remember? The 2-0 shutout, thanks to Megan Rapinoe’s opening goal and Rose Lavelle’s closer, went down in history as the U.S. team showed their dominance for the second tournament in a row. This was even while fighting well-known pay equity issues in the industry.
Will the U.S. national team make history this year with a third consecutive championship? Or will they face new challenges from competing teams and up-and-coming players? In this article, we look at the USWNT as of late and what we can expect from them in the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.
Meet all the teams competing at the Women’s World Cup in 2023.
USWNT’S PERFORMANCE LEADING UP TO THE WORLD CUP
To determine who competes in the World Cup – and the Olympics, actually – teams from different regions (FIFA calls them confederations) play against each other to fight for a spot.
For the U.S.’s women’s team, qualifying for both the 2023 World Cup and the 2024 Paris Olympics meant coming out on top of the Concacaf Women’s Championship, which took place in 2022. And that they did.
By defeating Haiti 3-0 and then Jamaica 5-0, the women showed their dominance, as well as their ability to not only score goals, but also to save them. 2014 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, Alyssa Naeher gracefully managed to prevent a single ball from getting past her into the net.
This performance proves that the U.S. Women’s team is as determined, smart and talented as ever – despite some recent slip ups and a young roster – and they’re ready to fight for the title this year.
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH FOR IN THE 2023 WORLD CUP
The USWNT has no shortage of talent, which makes it difficult to predict who will shine in this year’s tournament, especially ahead of the official roster. But with veterans like Carli Lloyd retiring and Megan Rapinoe taking on more of a mentor role for the predominantly young squad, we may get some new footwork to fawn over this year.
Let’s take a look at some of the top contenders for the Women’s World Cup roster.
Defensive midfielder Julie Ertz has certainly surprised soccer fans in recent weeks. As ESPN reported:
“After more than 600 days away from the USWNT, [Ertz] has made an unexpected return and a late push for a roster spot.”
Considering how difficult it has been for the team to find a replacement for Ertz, this may be just the addition the team needs. Unless, that is, she’s out of practice after such a long hiatus from the field. Her recent contract with Angel City FC has given her time to get back into the game before the tournament begins.
And while she may have appeared a bit rusty during her return (who can blame her?), her prior contributions to the team make her a strong candidate. As U.S. women’s coach Vlatko Andonovski said to the media: “If somebody’s 80% or 90% is still better than somebody else’s best, then too bad.”
One of the six teenagers in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), 18-year-old Alyssa Thompson is the talk of the town. Her impressive skill set and ability to think on the fly have made her well known by even the best of the best, including two-time world champion Carli Lloyd. Of the young player, she said:
“She is unpredictable and a smart player for her age…” Lloyd can see Thompson’s talent, but she also sees potential trouble. “It’s hard to get to the professional level in soccer and even harder to stay there. The amount of pressure and weight that already seems to be following Alyssa is going to be her biggest test.”
The youngest player to start a match for the women’s national team in nearly seven years, Thompson may also be the youngest player to start for the team at the upcoming Olympics. Check back here to find out if she makes the cut for the official line-up.
Once a shoo-in player for the USWNT in the World Cup, Cat Macario has been off the field for nearly a year following an ACL injury. As one of the team’s more anticipated young players, we would be thrilled to see her out on the pitch for the upcoming tournament.
Things have been less certain than Macario or coach Andonovski would like. In April, the coach said of her chances of making the USWNT roster:
“We have to see her on the field… Cat has to get back in a professional environment, play professional games, competitive games, games that matter.”
Unfortunately for Cat, and the rest of us, she officially announced in late May that she has not recovered enough from her ACL injury and therefore will not be playing in the World Cup this year.
God’s plan. I will be back ✊🏾❤️ pic.twitter.com/JNMsl2RbMz
— Catarina Macario (@catarinamacario) May 23, 2023
MEET THE USWNT’S 2023 WORLD CUP OPPONENTS
To start the tournament, the U.S. will compete in Group E along with Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Portugal. Both Vietnam and Portugal are making their debut at the Women’s World Cup. This likely gives the more experienced U.S. team an advantage in confidence and comfortability.
The Netherlands, on the other hand, may give the U.S. trouble. After the U.S. 2-0 victory over the Netherlands in the 2019 World Cup, the Dutch may want to redeem themselves.
Depending on how the matches play out, the U.S. could face several competitive teams. Most notably, the team will need to be ready to face England, Spain and Germany, all top contenders for the title. The U.S. lost to all three of those teams in 2022 – will they turn the tides back in their favor come July?
GET EXCITED FOR THIS YEAR’S WORLD CUP
As the excitement builds and we get closer to the tournament, we will be here with all of the Women’s World Cup content you’ll need. From an overview of the 32 teams to schedules and game recaps, you can get it all on DIRECTV Insider.
And with DIRECTV STREAM, you’ll never miss a moment of the World Cup, or any of your other favorite sports or matches.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I watch USWNT World Cup games?
You can find all the 2023 Women’s World Cup games exclusively on FOX Networks. From the kick-off match on July 20th to the championship one month later, FOX Sports on DIRECTV has you covered. Tune into Channel 219 with DIRECTV via Satellite or Internet.
What Group is the USNWT part of for the 2023 World Cup?
The U.S. National Women’s Team is part of Group E in the World Cup first round. They will compete against Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal.
How many World Cups has the USNWT won?
The USWNT has attended all eight Women's World Cup iterations and has won four of them. The latest wins were back-to-back in 2015 and 2019.
Who is the US Women's National Team Captain?
With the team's usual captain, Becky Sauerbrunn out of the tournament with an injury, veterans Alex Morgan and Lindsey Horan are acting as the team's co-captains.
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