USWNT aiming for back-to-back World Cups, but not embracing role as favorites | Soccer

The U.S. ladies’s nationwide workforce enters each match with a sure stage of expectations. It is pure for a workforce that is received 4 Olympic gold medals and three World Cup titles, together with a triumph within the final World Cup in Canada.

Heading into the 2019 World Cup, if the USWNT aren’t the favorites, they’re definitely amongst them. It is a distinction that defender Kelley O’Hara says is embraced in some methods and condemned in others.

On Saturday, the USWNT have been drawn into a bunch alongside Thailand, Chile and, most significantly, perennial rivals Sweden forward of the match in France. It is not the Group of Loss of life like that of 2015, nevertheless it’s a three-match run that may definitely finish in a check with that Sweden match.

DeCOURCY: USWNT’s World Cup draw tougher than it looks at first glance

Heading into France, the U.S. is the No. 1 ranked workforce on this planet with excessive expectations however, if the 2016 Olympics defeat to Sweden taught us something, it is that favorites do not all the time turn into champions

O’Hara was a member of each that 2015 World Cup squad and the 2016 Olympic workforce. Since breaking by with the USWNT, O’Hara has realized what it means to be seen because the front-runner, and the difficulties that include it. 

“I might by no means place us as ‘favorites’, or put it on us,” O’Hara informed reporters following the draw. “However we do maintain ourselves to a really excessive normal and, yeah, we need to win. Who would not need to win the World Cup? Being the defending champions, I completely need to return to again.”

O’Hara referred to as the group draw “serendipitous” given the familiarity of all of the groups concerned. The USWNT thrashed Chile 3-Zero and 4-Zero simply this 12 months. They took down Thailand 9-Zero this cycle. Sweden is a standard rival, one the USWNT will look to hunt a little bit of revenge on following a draw on the 2015 World Cup and a defeat on penalties on the 2016 Olympics.

The sphere heading into 2019 is as robust as ever as groups like hosts France, Germany, England, Canada and Australia all loom massive.

“The hole between the top-ranked workforce and the bottom on this World Cup is far nearer than it ever has been, when it comes to simply stage of play,” O’Hara stated. “That’s attributed to federations investing extra money and time into their feminine program which, I feel, must proceed. It is simply beginning and it is solely going to get higher, nevertheless it does want that funding from the federations.

“I feel they’re going to be pleasantly stunned to see that the competitors goes to be stiff and thrilling.”

Because the final World Cup, the U.S. has misplaced matches to England, France and Australia because the workforce has undergone a rebuild. The 2017 marketing campaign was headlined by that trio of defeats, together with a historic 3-Zero battering by the hands of France that signaled plenty of huge points with the workforce.

The USWNT have received 18 of their 20 matches this 12 months although, with the opposite two being attracts, because the workforce has seemingly discovered its kind. Alongside the way in which, the USWNT has defeated the likes of Germany, England, Japan and Brazil earlier than coasting by Concacaf qualifying.

“Clearly we went by a fairly large transition interval after the Olympics and [head coach Jill Ellis] was very clear about that to the media and to us,” O’Hara stated. “Since then, it was rising pains rising by that. It has been a constant group now and that is necessary for us to develop when it comes to chemistry.

“These subsequent six months main into the primary recreation, beginning in January, this would be the time we come collectively as a workforce and deal with ourselves, on the fashion of play and honing the instruments we have already got.”

The highway in France would be the hardest one but for the USWNT and, if the notorious Olympic loss to Sweden is any indication, there is not something assured anymore. For years, it was the U.S. after which everybody else. Now not.

That is thrilling for O’Hara, who has earned 112 caps and appeared in two World Cups and two Olympic video games. Nonetheless, the method remains to be as thrilling and nerve-wracking as ever.

“I am pumped. So excited,” she stated. “It is good to lastly know who our competitors goes to be in these first three video games. We will begin to put together and envision who’s going to be on the opposite aspect of the sphere. It is simply good to know.

“It feels actual immediately,” she added. “I’ve a headache after watching that. I feel that my stress ranges went up a bit simply due to the joy, understanding what it’s. Now that the draw has occurred, the brackets are stuffed, the teams are stuffed, it is actual. It is occurring. It may be right here earlier than we all know it.”

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