By 90Min
June 01, 2019

The United States have a chance to extend their long and storied history in the world of women's football this summer. 

While they weren't the first team to achieve back-to-back FIFA Women's World Cup titles — Germany did that — the USWNT have won the most titles in tournament history, though a lot has changed since their success four years ago.

Jill Ellis is still in charge, but the squad is almost entirely different. Long gone are the days of Abby Wambach and Lauren Holiday, with new stars like Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan now taking centre stage.

Here, we preview everything you need to know about the USWNT as they hunt for their fourth World Cup title. 


Squad

The entire USWNT squad is made up of players who play their domestic football in north America, but a wealth of experience on the international stage should bode well for a side who are used to going deep in major tournaments.

Elsa/GettyImages

Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC)

Defenders: Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), Kelley O'Hara (Utah Royals FC), Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage)

Midfielders: Sam Mewis (North Carolina Courage), Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit), Allie Long (Reign FC)

Forwards: Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC)


Manager

Jill Ellis has found herself to be a staple of women’s soccer in the United States, having initially become interim head coach in 2012.

She succeeded Pia Sundhage at the time, and was then appointed permanent head coach in May 2014 after a second interim spell in charge.

Ellis is an unconventional leader, who is not afraid to play her players out of position. She brushed off the criticism she received when she played Crystal Dunn, traditionally a forward for the North Carolina Courage, at left back.

Mike Lawrie/GettyImages

She will be looking to hoist her second World Cup trophy with the team, having already made some tough decisions regarding sqaud collection. Instead of calling up McCall Zerboni, who is arguably one of the best midfielders in the National Women’s Soccer League, she has elected to call upon Allie Long, who started in the Olympic Games in Rio. 

Ellis also overlooked Casey Short, who has consistently been among the squad for the past two seasons, in favour of selecting Ali Krieger - proving that she isn't afraid to mix things up when it comes to squad or team selection.


Recent Form

2019 has not lived up to usual expectations, with disappointment in the SheBelieves Cup earlier this summer blotting Jill Ellis' copybook. Still, convincing wins in their last five outings should see The Stars and Stripes come into this tournament high on confidence

January 19, 2019 France 3-1 United States Le Harve, France
January 22, 2019 Spain 0-1 United States Alicante, Spain
February 27, 2019 United States 2-2 Japan Chester, Pennsylvania
March 2, 2019 United States 2-2 England Nashville, Tennessee
March 5, 2019 United States 1-0 Brazil Tampa, Florida
April 4, 2019 United States 5-3 Australia Commerce City, Colorado
April 7, 2019 United States 6-0 Belgium Los Angeles, California
May 12, 2019 United States 3-0 South Africa Santa Clara, California
May 16, 2019 United States 5-0 New Zealand St. Louis, Missouri
May 26, 2019 United States 3-0 Mexico Harrison, New Jersey

Michael Ciaglo/GettyImages

Strengths

United States' success at this World Cup could come down to how effective they are down the wings, with a number of versatile, top quality options at Jill Ellis' disposal.

Kelley O'Hara and the aforementioned Crystal Dunn are likely to start out wide, and their talent on the ball with pose a major threat going forward. Equally, however, they must be diligent in their defensive responsibilities in order to help steady things at the back.

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Up front. star striker Megan Rapinoe is playing some of the best football of her career, even though she is now 33. Alex Morgan has become a natural leader, while Tobin Heath impresses each and every time she takes to the field too.

There's a blend of youth mixed in with valuable experience in midfield, with Rose Lavelle and Lindsay Horan's fitness paramount to success in the tournament. Julie Ertz's conversion into a solid defensive midfielder has helped too, and she'll be ably supported by Sam Mewis, whose towering presence gives her a significant advantage in the air.


Weakness

It’s tough being a goalkeeper -  just ask Alyssa Naeher. It's even tougher emerging from the shadow of Hope Solo.

But that's exactly what Naeher has done, after Solo was axed from the team after making disparaging comments about her teammates in the aftermath of the semi-final defeat to Sweden at the Olympics three years ago.

Elsa/GettyImages

She comes into the tournament with an impressive recent record on paper, having shut out South Africa, New Zealand and Mexico in her last three outings. In truth, though, she's barely been tested in those games.

The pressure will be on against Sweden, and featuring in a major tournament brings a whole new meaning to the world. Naeher will feel she's prepared, but this will be an experience like no other.


Group F Opponents

CHRISTOF STACHE/GettyImages

The last time the United States faced off against Chile and Thailand, they ran riot.

A first ever meeting with Thailand in September 2015 resulted in a nine-goal romp, while their last two friendlies against Chile have resulted in 3-0 and 4-0 wins respectively.

Sweden will provide the sternest test, with the two sides having a storied history. They were last group stage opponents four years ago, in a game that ended in a goalless draw. Their most recent meeting came in Gothenburg, where The Stars and Stripes triumphed by the odd goal thanks to Rose Lavelle's goal.

June 11, 2019 United States vs. Thailand Reims, France
June 16, 2019 United States vs. Chile Paris, France
June 20, 2019 United States vs. Sweden Le Harve, France


Route to the Final

The United States and Sweden will likely battle for top spot in the group, and the winner will be rewarded with a game against the runners up in Group B.

Spain and China are potential opponents if that happens, though a surprise turn of events could see Germany, ranked second in the world, suddenly become their next opponents.

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