What to watch for: 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup

An early look at what to watch for at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup

(Left to right) Portland Thorns FC/Canada forward Christine Sinclair, Chicago Red Stars/Australia forward Sam Kerr and Seattle Reign FC/United States forward Megan Rapinoe (Photo credit: isiphotos.com)

We’re just days away from the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Draw, when we’ll find out all the games for the group stage of next summer’s tournament in France. We’re very excited and have been running simulations for the draw daily, thanks to FIFA.com.

What you need to know: FIFA Women’s World Cup Draw

We’ll have plenty of coverage and time to discuss more things we’re looking forward to over the next six months, but for now here are just some of the things we can’t wait to see this summer.

 

NWSL Stars in Action

Players who were named to Women’s World Cup qualifying rosters for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, England, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Scotland, South Africa and the United States all appeared on NWSL rosters in 2018, with players coming from all nine NWSL teams. There will likely plenty of NWSL talent to follow over the summer in France.

 

The Defending Champions

Only once in the history of the Women’s World Cup has a team successfully defended their title — when Germany won in 2007 after winning in 2003. The United States will be attempting to defend their 2015 title, earned with a 5-2 win over Japan in the final thanks to Sky Blue FC forward Carli Lloyd’s epic hat trick and a shutdown defense.

The No. 1 ranked team in the world boasts the reigning NWSL MVP in Portland Thorns FC midfielder Lindsey Horan, as well as MVP finalist Seattle Reign FC forward Megan Rapinoe. They’ve also got Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan — who scored a stunning 18 goals in 19 games in 2018 for the USWNT — leading the forward line. Almost all of the U.S. women’s national team plays in the NWSL.

Records

Portland Thorns FC forward Christine Sinclair has 177 career international goals, just seven behind U.S. legend Abby Wambach’s record of 184. Wambach is the only player, man or woman, to have scored more international goals than Sinclair. If things go well in the first half of the year for Sinclair, she could very well set the record during the Women’s World Cup.

Orlando Pride forward Marta is already the Women’s World Cup all-time leading scorer, with 15 career goals in 17 matches. With two more goals, she will become the World Cup all-time leading scorer, man or woman, passing Germany’s Miroslav Klose’s record of 16 in 24 matches.

 

Sam Kerr

France 2019 will be Chicago Red Stars forward Sam Kerr’s third Women’s World Cup, but her first since breaking a host of NWSL and Australia scoring records. The reigning two-time NWSL Golden Boot winner — and NWSL’s all-time leading scorer — leads the front line of an Australia team with high hopes for this summer’s tournament.

 

Future Stars

One of the best parts of each year’s tournament are finding out who the breakout stars will be, and there are already several players making their case to be that player next summer.

South Africa will be making its Women’s World Cup debut, led by the goal scoring performance of Thembi Kgatlana. The Houston Dash forward scored five goals during the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations to clinch a Women’s World Cup berth for South Africa and was named Player of the Tournament.

Forward Khadija “Bunny” Shaw of Jamaica, currently a senior at the University of Tennessee, scored 19 goals in 12 games to lead all goal scorers in World Cup qualifying, in any confederation. Shaw could be a top pick in the 2019 NWSL College Draft on January 10.

Several NCAA college stars could find their onto Women’s World Cup rosters. UCLA senior Hailie Mace, also a likely top NWSL draft pick, has seen time with the U.S. women’s national team this year, as has Stanford junior defender Tierna Davidson, who could decide to leave school early and head to the NWSL draft, following changes to the eligibility requirements. UCLA forward Jessie Fleming and University of Florida forward Deanne Rose are two of several college players who could make their mark for Canada this summer.

We’re also hoping that North Carolina Courage midfielder Debinha will show off some of her skills for Brazil this summer.

Old Friends

This summer’s tournament will also be a chance to see former NWSL players on our televisions again. Former Seattle Reign FC midfielder — and 2014 NWSL MVP — Kim Little could be a key part of Scotland’s squad as they make their Women’s World Cup debuts. Little has been injured this fall, but should be recovered in time for France.

Among the other former NWSL players we could see next summer: France midfielder Amandine Henry, who won a title with Portland in 2017, as well as Australia’s Lisa DeVanna (Sky Blue FC/Boston Breakers/Washington Spirit/Orlando Pride) and Canada’s Janine Beckie (Houston Dash/Sky Blue FC) and Stephanie Labbé (Washington Spirit).

 

France as Host Nation

From the opening match in Paris to the semifinals and final in Lyon, France will surely put on a show. France’s highest Women’s World Cup finish was fourth in 2011. This year, the No. 4 ranked team in the world — led by Henry and striker Eugénie Le Sommer — will have their sights set on becoming the tournament’s fifth-ever champion. They’ll find out their group stage opponents on Saturday.

 

Host cities and venues

  • Parc des Princes in Paris
  • Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon
  • Stade des Alpes in Grenoble
  • Stade Océane in Le Havre
  • Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier
  • Allianz Riviera in Nice
  • Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims
  • Roazhon Park in Rennes
  • Stade de Hainaut in Valenciennes