U.S. Women Prepare for World Cup

If the wait for the 2018 Men’s World Cup feels like it’s too much, there’s an option to consider for this summer: the Women’s World Cup Tournament hosted by FIFA.

Established in 1991 by Dr. João Havelange, who was president of FIFA at the time, the Women’s World Cup quickly grew in popularity. The Women’s World Cup is also played every four years, and also in a host country, which will be Canada this year.

In preparation for the qualifiers and for the actual World Cup, U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati elected Jill Ellis as the head coach for the U.S. Women’s National team. Ellis has background working within the U.S. Women’s National Team organization for years, including experience as an assistant with the squad that won Gold at the 2012 Olympics.

Ellis’ squad for the roster in Canada includes veterans such as forward Alex Morgan from Portland Thorns FC, and Abby Wombach, who was elected as one of FIFA’s players of the year for the 2013-14 season. Arguably, one of the biggest stories is with veteran Hope Solo. The goalkeeper was suspended from the U.S. National team in January after an incident at the Women’s National Team training camp. She was reinstated after serving her suspension, and Coach Ellis announced her call-up on the roster for the World Cup.

The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on June 6 with a total of six groups, each consisting of four national teams. The U.S. is in Group D and will face Australia, Sweden and Nigeria in the group stages.

Besides the U.S., there are two other teams to look out for. The first is Japan, which will match up against Switzerland, Cameroon and Ecuador in Group C. In 2011, Japan defeated the U.S. National Team in a penalty shootout in the final match. One year later, at the 2012 Olympics, the USA defeated Japan 2-1 for the Gold medal.

The other team to look out for is Germany, which is in Group B and will face Cote D’Ivoire, Norway and Thailand. The men’s squad won the World Cup in 2014, and it could be argued that the women’s squad is destined to do the same. Germany’s head coach, Silvia Neid, has released her squad list. On it is goalkeeper and 2013 FIFA Ballon d’Or winner Nadine Angerer. The current Ballon d’Or winner, German midfielder Nadine Kessler, did not get called up after a knee injury in March left her sidelined.

Perhaps the most important thing to be on the lookout for during this tournament is the turf. The players have filed a gender discrimination complaint, because the men’s competitions are all played on natural grass, against FIFA and against the Canadian Soccer Association for the use of artificial turf at the venues hosting the tournament where the tournament is set to be played. The athletes opposed this turf due to the increased risk of injury. The lawsuit was later dropped as the players who filed the complaint after FIFA claimed their rules permitted the use of artificial turf.

So for the fans who suffer through the wait of the offseason, tune in to soccer – women’s soccer, that is.