The United States will be playing for an unprecedented three-peat at the Women’s World Cup. It won’t be easy for the No. 1 team in the world.
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 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 WORLD CUP SCHEDULE AND WHERE IS IT LOCATED?
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 quarterfinals are set for Aug. 11-12 and the two semifinal matches will be played Aug. 15-16. A third-place game is set for Aug. 19 in Brisbane ahead of the final in Sydney.
The final will air at 6 a.m. ET (1000 GMT) on Aug. 20 in the United States.
The broadcast schedule is complicated by the time difference. The United States is playing in Group E with Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal. The opening match is against Vietnam on July 22 in Auckland, which, because of the time difference, will air in the U.S. on July 21 at 9 p.m. ET.
A rematch of the 2019 final against the Netherlands is set for July 27 in Wellington, airing at 9 p.m. ET on July 26 in the U.S. The last group game against Portugal is set for Aug. 1, airing at 3 a.m. ET that same day.
HOW TO WATCH THE FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Fox holds the English-language media rights in the United States for the Women’s World Cup. Telemundo holds the Spanish-language rights.
Fox will broadcast a record 29 matches over the air on its main network and the rest of the games will be aired on FS1. All matches will be streamed on the Fox app.
FIFA struck a collective deal with the European Broadcasting Union in mid-June, ending a standoff with a broadcasters in five major European television markets. The deal guarantees the games will air in France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Britain.
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 40 and likely playing in her final World Cup, is international soccer’s all-time leading scorer, among women or men, with 190 goals.
Megan Rapinoe, set to appear in her fourth World Cup, says that this one will be her last. The 38-year-old forward for the United States plans to retire from soccer at the end of this year.
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. American-born Casey Phair, 16, was named to South Korea’s squad.
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.
TEAMS TO WATCH
The United States is ranked No. 1 in the world in the latest FIFA rankings. The Americans are a strong team despite recent injuries, but their dominance in international play will be challenged at this World Cup.
Germany, ranked No. 2, won back-to-back World Cups in 2003 and 2007. Third-ranked Sweden knocked the United States out of the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals. Seventh-ranked Canada won the gold medal at the Tokyo Games.
Considered a contender, England has been hit by injuries to top players including Beth Mead, Fran Kirby and captain Leah Williamson. All three will miss the World Cup. France switched coaches in March after some players threatened to skip the tournament.
Australia can’t be counted out as co-host. The Matildas will be boosted by Kerr, one of the world’s best players.
The United States is a +240 favorite to win the World Cup, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. England is next at +430, followed by Spain at +550.
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.
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