USA-CENTRIC PRIMER TO THE WOMEN'S WORLD CUP
The Women's World Cup begins Saturday and you should be watching. It's tough to track all 24 teams but here's a USA-centric primer on the upcoming tournament. Here's 10 things you should know and also how to watch the games.
- •We're sort of the favorites.The super smarties at 538 give the U.S. Women the best chance of winning the Cup, at 28%. They also give Germany, who is #1 in the world rankings, at 27% chance to win.
- •We haven't won the Cup since 1999That's when Brandi Chastain famously ripped her jersey off. More importantly that means the U.S. Women's National Team has lost 3 Cups in a row and that star players like Abby Wambach and Hope Solo have never hoisted the trophy. So there's some real pressure here on the USWNT.
- •Meanwhile, the USWNT has won the last 3 Olympic soccer gold medalsAnd Gold in 4 of the 5 times the women have played in the Olympics.
- •This World Cup is being played on turfWhich is awful for the players. The USWNT tried to protest FIFA's decision but to no avail. Turf stinks because of what it does to the players' bodies. It's less forgiving and leaves burns all over their legs. Scotts Lawn Care offered to install grass in six of the Canadian venues, and pay for it themselves. Sepp Blatter's FIFA rejected the offer. Meanwhile the game on turf is not the same. Balls bounce differently and less predictably, which is not good for favorites.
- •The tournament is being held in CanadaAnd Canada isn't very friendly to the USWNT. There was controversy in the 2012 U.S.-Canada Olympic semifinal match. There is the fact that one of our brightest stars, Sydney Leroux, was born in Canada. If you're looking for a point of comparison, U.S. midfielder Megan Rapinoe recently compared the relationship to U.S. and Mexico on the men's side.
- •We're in the group of death.Disclaimer- I hate the term group of death because it's cheap and a built in excuse. But Group D, which the U.S. drew, also includes the current 5th ranked Sweden women, the 10th ranked Australian women, and the 33rd ranked Nigerian women. No other group has three top 10 teams and even Nigeria is said to be young and dangerous.
- •Sweden has our old coachThe aforementioned Group D opponent, employs our former national team coach, Pia Sundhage. It's not so much a case of bad blood as it is that Sweden will have good scouting on our squad.
- •There's 3 moms on this teamChristie Rampone, Shannon Boxx, and Amy Rodriguez are freaking moms and still amongst the best soccer players in the world. Think about your mom (no offense, I'm sure she's a lovely woman) and let that sink in.
- •The U.S. women have great chemistry.These women clearly like being with each other. Checking the Instagram feeds of Alex Morgan (alexmorgan13), Sydney Leroux (sydneyleroux), Christen Press (christenpress), Ali Krieger (akrieger11), and you'll see the team on and off the field having fun.
- •The team isn't playing their best ball recentlyIn the last 6 months, the USWNT has drawn against China, Brazil, Iceland, and South Korea and lost to France and Brazil. Sure they've, devoured a bunch of cream puffs too, but this is the #2 team in the world. In their last game before the Cup begins, the U.S. tied South Korea 0-0 in New Jersey, the first time the team was shut out at home since 2008.
- •Where/when/how to see the U.S. GamesThere are 3 games currently scheduled for the USWNT. 1- Monday June 8th vs Australia at 730pm Eastern on Fox Sports 1. 2- Friday June 12th vs Sweden at 8pm Eastern on FOX. 3- Tuesday June 16th vs Nigeria at 8pm Eastern on FOX. If the women finish in the top 2 in Group D, after playing all of its members, or are one of the best 3rd place group finishers, they will move to the knockout round, which begins Saturday June 20th.