As the FIFA Women's World Cup gets under way, the US Women's National Soccer Team is without a doubt the team to watch. They're the defending champions (relive their exhilarating 2015 victory here) and the top-ranked squad in the world, making them the favourites to take home the title again. Twenty-three other teams are determined not to let that happen.
Japan beat the US in the 2011 World Cup Final but lost to them big-time in 2015, 5-2; they'll be looking for redemption. The number-two ranked team, Germany, hasn't won since 2007 and is hungry for the prize. Australia has the top-ranked player in the world, Sam Kerr, and might just pull off an upset. (Here are 25 other players to keep your eye on.) And France, the hosts, have home field advantage and beat the US 3-1 in a January friendly.
Suffice to say it's going to be an interesting tournament. Group play has already kicked off and the US Women's Team is poised to start the tournament with a game against Thailand. The match you don't want to miss, though: the rivalry matchup between the US and Sweden. Swedish coach Pia Sundhage coached the USWNT from 2007 to 2012, winning two Olympic golds and a runners-up trophy at the 2011 World Cup, before signing on to lead her home nation's team. And at the 2016 Rio Olympics, you may remember, it was Sweden who knocked the US out of contention in the quarter-finals. Here are more fascinating storylines to watch, straight from ESPN soccer analyst and USWNT legend Julie Foudy.
Here are the kickoff times for the US's group play matches, because you're not gonna want to miss a minute.
US Women's National Soccer Team World Cup Schedule
- Tuesday, June 11, 3 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Pacific: US vs. Thailand
- Sunday, June 16, 12 p.m. Eastern/9 a.m. Pacific: US vs. Chile
- Thursday, June 20, 3 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Pacific: US vs. Sweden
All the games will be broadcast on FOX Sports and streamed on its website and mobile app if you have a cable subscription. Other streaming options all include subscription fees, of which SlingTV ($15.99 per month) is the cheapest, but you can also choose from FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, and YouTube TV.
After group play concludes on June 20, the top 16 teams advance to the knockout round. Just want to know about the big game? The final will be played July 7 at 11 a.m. Eastern/8 a.m. Pacific. Stay tuned.