USWNT draw for FIFA Women’s World Cup tougher than it looks at first glance

first_imgThe U.S. played its first two matches ever against Chile in late summer, a two-game friendly series in California in which the Americans won both by a combined 7-0 score.The game against Sweden, of course, is tricky. The Americans have dominated the series against the Swedes, winning 21, losing 11 and drawing six. Oddly, this is the fifth consecutive time the U.S. has been drawn into the same World Cup group as Sweden. They played to a 0-0 draw in Canada in 2015.The most recent of their losses against Sweden cost the U.S. a chance to win a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal. Sweden, coached by former U.S. boss Pia Sundhage, played a stifling style that limited the Americans’ scoring opportunities. After a 1-1 draw in their quarterfinal game, Sweden advanced on penalty kicks and the U.S. left Rio without a medal. It may expose the arrogance of a champion to admit it, but the revelation of the United States team’s draw for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France is not merely about the three squads the Americans will oppose in pool play.To judge whether the draw is easy or difficult, whether it is ideal in promoting the possibility of the Americans successfully defending the world championship they claimed in 2015, it is necessary to look beyond the group to their potential opponents in the knockout portion of the competition. As it happens, the draw could be tougher than it looks.23 TICKETS TO FRANCE: Projecting the USWNT’s World Cup rosterThe instinct is to look only at the group, but glancing beyond that you see it’s very possible the U.S. could play two-time world champion Germany in the quarterfinals.Placed into Group F during Saturday’s draw in Paris, which featured former national team striker Cindy Parlow Cone as one of those helping to transact the random selections, the USWNT will play against Thailand, Chile and Sweden, the team that eliminated them from the 2016 Olympic Games.Being placed in the same group with Sweden is not ideal, but if the Americans can prevail in the group their road to deep advancement is less daunting than it might have been.If the U.S. wins its group, its opponent in the round of 16 would be the second-place team from Group E, which contains favorite Canada along with Cameroon, New Zealand and the Netherlands. The Netherlands is No. 7 in the world, New Zealand is No. 19 and Cameroon is No. 46. In their most recent game against the Netherlands, in September 2016, the Americans were 3-1 winners.If the USWNT reached the quarterfinals from that route, the opponent might be the Group B winner. Germany is the favorite among China, Spain and South Africa.MORE: USWNT’s full 2019 schedule leading to Women’s World CupThe opening game for the U.S. will be June 11 in Reins against Thailand. They played Thailand in a 2016 friendly in Columbus, winning 9-0 in the final game for long-time star Heather O’Reilly.last_img

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