The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) kicks off its march toward the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup championship today, facing off against the vastly overmatched Thailand team. Here’s what to look for in today’s game.
By all rights, it should be a one-sided blowout.
The American women are, as of this writing, the No. 1 ranked women’s team in the world, according to FIFA, ahead of tournament competitors Germany (second) and England (third). Thailand, by comparison, is ranked 34th. Similarly, according to CBS Sports, the Americans are heavily favored to win the tournament (according to some betting models, that is). They are some of the best female athletes in the world, at the tops of their games professionally, and with solid financial backing from various sponsors. The Thai team, on the other hand, are bringing up the rear in betting and are not expected to make it out of the Group Stage.
Still, upsets are not unheard of in international soccer, so the American women, who are heavily favored to win the tournament in general and this game in particular, still need to show up.
Keep your eyes on Lindsey Horan #9
Every team has its superstars, and the USA’s is no exception. Superstars Carli Lloyd and Megan Rapinoe are at or near the ends of their international soccer careers, and the newest up-and-comer is Colorado native Lindsey Horan.
Keeping your eye on her shouldn’t be too hard: As a midfielder, she’s likely to have a lot of time possessing the ball. And as an up-and-coming superstar, the camera will likely be on her as much as possible.
According to Slate, the USWNT’s futures may very well rest on the Portland Thorns FC player. As a midfielder, she’s put into play on both sides of the field and poised to make dramatic acts of defense (including ball stealing) as well as potentially scoring a goal or two.
“Her role on this U.S. team is to serve as its fulcrum: As she slides up and down the pitch, she’ll tip the balance from defensive solidity to overwhelming attacking force,” writes Eric Betts.
Horan will be the key player in an American side that seems to be heavily stacked offensively.
“The American lineup is so forward-leaning that even the defense and midfield are packed with attacking talent… With so many people attacking from so many angles and depths, somebody’s going to get you eventually—it’d almost be harder for them not to,” says Betts.
After Thailand, the USA faces Group F opponents Chile on June 16 and then Sweden on June 20.