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US Ladies’s Nationwide Group head to Ladies’s World Cup seeking to make historical past – can they do it? | Soccer Information

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Loads has modified surrounding the US Ladies’s Nationwide Group since they defended their World Cup crown 4 years in the past.

An extended-running authorized dispute with the US Soccer Federation over pay situations was finally settled late last year with a landmark agreement ruling that for the primary time, the squad will enter this match figuring out they may earn the identical monetary reward as their male counterparts did on the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

It strikes a much more Positive notice than some others. Heading to Australia and New Zealand, a cloud nonetheless hangs over the American home high flight, the NWSL, rocked by a bullying and sexual abuse scandal with the second of two investigations concluding solely months forward of the competitors, and finding the league ‘systematically failed’ to protect players from ‘widespread misconduct’.

An official inquiry delivered a damning verdict about all kinds of failures of management and four coaches were eventually handed lifetime bans.

On the pitch, issues look very totally different to 2019 too. Fourteen of the 23-woman squad who will journey to Australia and New Zealand are attending their first World Cup, together with 11 with 30 caps or much less – in comparison with 5 in 2019.

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Coach Vlatko Andonovski is one other relative rookie and can also be heading to his first World Cup, having taken the reins from the legendary Jill Ellis shortly after their triumph in France 4 years in the past.

Another issues haven’t modified since then. The US are, once more, favourites to win a 3rd consecutive World Cup, which might make them the primary males’s or ladies’s crew in historical past to take action.

They’re unbeaten in aggressive fixtures for the reason that 2020 Olympic semi-final two years in the past, and so they certified for this World Cup by profitable the CONCACAF Championship final yr with out conceding a aim.

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Heading into his first main worldwide match, Andonovski is beneath no illusions about what he is bought to carry residence.

“The expectations on this job are very clear, we’ve to win all of it,” he advised ESPN. “It is the identical factor with the gamers. They enter this setting with the mindset that we will win each recreation.

“It isn’t one thing we even discuss, that is the kind of mentality which was established a very long time in the past – even earlier than any of those gamers have been established on the crew.”

Issues might be simpler for the Macedonian-American, who travels Down Underneath with out seven senior gamers, together with injured captain Becky Sauerbrunn, whose 200-cap expertise will probably be an actual loss each on and off the pitch.

He started his reign with a 23-match unbeaten streak however was shattered by a chastening 3-0 loss to Sweden within the first group recreation of the Tokyo Olympics, the place the US confronted the uncommon embarrassment of discovering themselves dominated from begin to end.

Extra just lately, they have been overwhelmed 3 times in a row late final yr for the primary time for the reason that Nineteen Nineties, together with a defeat to newly-crowned Euro 2022 winners England at Wembley in October.

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It ought to be remembered that their journey to Europe got here within the fast aftermath of the preliminary report into NWSL misconduct. Nonetheless, notes of warning about Andonovski’s worldwide credentials started to be raised, and particularly whether or not he had arrange the crew to study something from the worldwide break.

These questions will resurface with a vengeance ought to the US falter once more throughout this match.

On paper, maybe there are inexperienced shoots of hope for the US’ rivals of stopping them from standing alone this summer time.

However don’t overlook the younger expenses coming by means of the ranks Stateside too simply. Andonovski has set a precedent for selecting gamers on type and has carried that into their match squad, the place he made Savannah DeMelo solely the third US participant in historical past to obtain a World Cup call-up with no cap to her identify.

It’s 22-year-old Sophia Smith who’s extra prone to make headlines although. One in all 4 of the squad born this millennium, she is a certain starter as a part of a probable entrance three and final yr was named the NWSL’s youngest-ever Participant of the Season on the again of scoring 14 targets in 18 video games for Portland Thorns.

For those who’re on the lookout for someplace to place your cash for the Golden Boot there are far worse bets, and nobody believes she will do it greater than the participant herself.

“From day one, I am a winner,” she advised Fox Sports activities in a current interview. “I’ve to win. It makes me sick to lose something. Card video games, something. On the subject of soccer, I simply discover a approach.”

The nationwide ladies’s crew are extra common than they’ve ever been among the many American inhabitants and have cause to really feel empowered after securing monetary parity with their male friends and US Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone, herself a 157-cap worldwide, as large a champion as anybody.

Serving because the nation’s high soccer administrator, after being there and doing it as a participant, units her other than her predecessors and – regardless of the logistical predicament it positioned on each herself and her organisation – she couldn’t have been extra vocal in her assist for the ladies’s equal pay deal.

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US Soccer Federation president Cindy Parlow Cone discusses pay within the ladies’s recreation, amid England’s bonus row with the FA

“For at the present time to lastly be right here, I actually cannot put it into phrases how necessary that is to me personally,” she advised ESPN. “However extra necessary, what it will imply to the remainder of the world – not simply right here within the US and never simply in sports activities.”

That type of unapologetic positivity in the direction of ladies’s rights and championing equality has received loads of admirers but in addition presents the nationwide crew with one in every of their greater challenges Down Underneath, from hundreds of miles away.

Sections of the US media have been much less welcoming than others to their method. Forged your thoughts again to the reception that met Megan Rapinoe’s choice to observe Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee in the course of the nationwide anthem, as an illustration.

Barely per week earlier than the match begins, one distinguished information anchor has made all of the headlines he desired by declaring he has “carried out extra for ladies’s sports activities” than the previous captain, regardless of her vital function in reaching that historic pay parity settlement and her long-standing vocal promotion of girls’s sport.

Megan Rapinoe split opinion in the US when she knelt ahead of the national anthem ahead of a national team match in 2016
Megan Rapinoe cut up opinion within the US when she knelt forward of the nationwide anthem forward of a nationwide crew match in 2016

The naysayers will probably be quietened for a short while no less than ought to the US obtain the beforehand unthinkable and retain the World Cup for a second time, and it will take a courageous doubter to guess in opposition to them.

Given the off-field points they’ve endured since they took residence the trophy in France 4 years in the past, if anybody has proven how to overcome adversity – it is this group of girls.

What is the World Cup schedule?

The group stage will start on July 20 and run over a two-week interval ending on August 3 and see group winners and runners-up progress to the spherical of 16, which takes place from August 5 to August 8.

The quarter-finals, which will probably be held in Wellington, Auckland, Brisbane and Sydney, are scheduled for August 11 and 12.

The primary semi-final will then be performed on August 15 in Auckland, with the opposite semi-final going down on August 16 on the Accor Stadium in Sydney, which can then host the ultimate on August 20.

A 3rd-place play-off will probably be performed the day earlier than the ultimate on August 19 in Brisbane.

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