Four days until the biggest and longest Women's World Cup kicks off in Edmonton between host nation and China. When the U.S. Women's National Team opens up play on June 8 against Australia, the two-time champions begin the pursuit of becoming the only team to win three titles.
The U.S. also happens to be the only team to reach the semifinal of all six Women's World Cup editions - three finals (two titles and one runner-up) and three third places finishes. The Red, White and Blue are poised as favorites, if they can overcome injury.
USA's match Group D Schedule
United States will need to play seven matches to get to the championship - that includes the three group (Australia, Sweden and Nigeria), the Round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final. But it will be no easy task. If it finishes second in Group D, it will travel across the country to Moncton, where it will likely take on Brazil and potentially meet Japan in the quarterfinal. The only time the team did not finish first in the group was at WWC 2011 behind fellow Group D member Sweden.
Head Coach Jill Ellis' Chosen 23
Jill Ellis has a deep and well-experienced team, as it averages 103 caps per player. Fifteen have already made at least one other World Cup squad.
Keep an eye on these World Cup rookies - check out the 2015 #USWNT Roster Card videos:
Sydney Leroux - powerful and tenacious forward, averaging the most goals in fewest minutes of any player in USWNT history.
Morgan Brian - youngest player on the team, at 22, controls the central midfield with such composure and sophistication.
Julie Johnston - tough defender with a dominating presence in the air and on the ground and has a sixth sense in positioning, scoring three consecutive goals while holding down the back line.
Christen Press - effective as a midfielder and forward, the fast and versatile striker has the ability to finish anywhere on the field.
- United States creates opportunities but needs to finish more accurately and consistently, and put their chances away earlier.
- Starting goalkeeper Hope Solo made 23 saves and only let in two goals in the last eight matches.
- The team is one of the strongest defensively but needs to improve upon set-plays, as it has been known to get caught off guard in its own box.
- USA's success heavily rides on the appearance and minutes of Alex Morgan, who has not played in 59 days due to injury. If she comes back in full-health, the team will be a serious force to reckon with.
- Despite Morgan being a question mark, the team has many strong options up top - with Abby Wambach, Press, Leroux and Amy Rodriguez ready and able to have immediate impact.
Social Media Easter Egg
For the tournament, Twitter Sports reintroduced #hashflags after making their debut at last year's World Cup. Hashflags are flag emoticons related to a country's hashtag. Just type in a three letter hashtag and it will show the country's flag in the iconic Canadian maple leaf, for instance #CAN and #USA. USWNT's #SheBelieves campaign got a customized one too.
Dwyer and Leroux (at 25:33)
Dom Dwyer played the Newlyweds Game on ExtraTime with Sydney Leroux by his side. Let's see if Dwyer follows through on the bet that if the United States win the World Cup, he will change his last name to Leroux.
What Makes Us
espnW filmed What Makes Us original shorts featuring American standouts Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe. They provided insight into their upbringing and how that shaped their personalities and personal growth in "Syd" and "Pinoe."
USWNT players on Garbage Talk
The United States can kick it on the soccer field but they could not make it sting like a bee. Host of Garbage Talk Katie Nolan asked Leroux, Alex Morgan and Kelley O'Hara to trash talk Australia before the team's first match.
Amp Up for World Cup
To help them get hyped up for the big games, midfielder Morgan Brian and defender Megan Klingenberg elicit help from fans to create a #WCPlaylist. Suggest songs on social media or take a listen on Spotify.
ICYMI: USWNT on Simpsons
You know you made it when you get Simsonized. Fox teamed up with the Simpsons to create Alex Morgan, Abby Wambach and Christen Press characters that made their debut in May.
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