The last time the United States women’s soccer team played a World Cup game, a lot of people were watching.
And by a lot, we mean a record number.
The 5-2 victory by the U.S. over Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final in Canada marked the most-watched soccer game on English-language television in U.S. history, with 23 million people tuning in to witness as the U.S. women won their third World Cup title.
The country and world will be reintroduced to the U.S. team soon, seeing as the 2019 Women’s World Cup kicks off in France this Friday.
So, what’s in store for the U.S. women in another pursuit of a title?
Here’s a breakdown of the roster for the No. 1-ranked team in the world going into the tournament.
Veterans and more veterans
Experience certainly won’t be an issue for the Americans.
Of the 23 players selected, 12 were on the roster at the 2015 World Cup in Canada and seven were on the 2011 squad in Germany.
Carli Lloyd, the now-36-year-old hero of the 2015 title-winning team, is back for her fourth World Cup appearance.
Five players have appeared in at least 10 World Cup matches and 11 of the players on the roster are ages 30 or older.
The biggest strength of the U.S. team – and probably the reason it is ranked No. 1 going into the tournament – is its ability to score goals in bunches.
Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath comprise the world’s best collection of forwards to start, and there are scoring threats off of the bench in Lloyd, Christen Press and 21-year-old future star Mallory Pugh.
Who will be young breakout players?
While the roster is loaded with experience and names from past World Cups that fans of the U.S. team will recognize, there will be younger players ready to announce themselves as the future of U.S. women’s soccer.
Tierna Davidson is a 20-year-old defender who might be the country’s top college soccer player at Stanford. Pugh would start for any other team but will be relegated to reserve with the depth the U.S. has at forward.
At midfield, 24-year-old Lindsey Horan and 23-year-old Rose Lavelle figure to thrive in their first chance on the World Cup stage.
Concerns in goal
The U.S. hasn’t had much reason to be nervous with its goalkeeping over the past 20 years, with Briana Scurry and Hope Solo being rocks to lean on.
That isn’t the case this year, with goalie being the most uncertain position on the U.S. roster.
Initially, the starting nod will likely go to 31-year-old Alyssa Naeher, who was a backup on the 2015 World Cup team.
But this will be the first time she will play in an Olympics or World Cup as the starter.
The United States is in a pool with Thailand, Chile and Sweden. Of those squads, Sweden, ranked No. 9 in the world, will pose the biggest threat to the U.S. bid of winning the pool and getting an easier matchup in the round of 16.
The U.S. will have its first game June 11 against Thailand in Reims, will then face Chile on June 16 in Paris and then close out pool play against Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre.
Graham Media Group 2019