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Women’s World Cup: USA, Sweden advance ahead of Group F finale

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A roundup of Sunday’s action at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France…

[ WATCH: Carli Lloyd’s opening goal is vicious and clinical ]

USA 3-0 ChileFULL RECAP

The United States and Sweden were widely expected to finish one-two — or two-one — in Group F from the moment the draw was held, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday as the Americans breezed past Chile for a 3-0 victory to remain top of Group F with one game left to play.

On the back of their tournament-opening, 13-goal victory over Thailand, the Yanks sit atop the group with six points and a +16 goal differential.

Carli Lloyd made her way into the starting lineup, as one of seven changes to Jill Ellis’ starting 11, and responded with a pair of goals in the opening 35 minutes. The first came after 11 minutes (WATCH HERE), and her second just 10 minutes before halftime.

Lloyd had the best possible opportunity to complete her hat trick in the 81st minute, but the36-year-old, 2015 World Player of the Year smashed her penalty kick just wide of the right-hand post of Christiane Endler, whose Herculean performance (WATCH HERE, HERE and HERE) kept the Chileans within touching distance when it could just as easily have finished 7-0.

Julie Ertz bagged the USWNT’s second goal in the 26th minute (WATCH HERE).

Sweden 5-1 Thailand

In the day’s other game, Sweden cruised to a comfortable 5-1 victory over Thailand — to go with their 2-0 victory over Chile — to also reach the six-point mark, but with a goal differential of only +6. When the Americans and Swedes meet in their Group F finale on Thursday (3 p.m. ET), they’ll be battling for top spot with a hefty, tie-breaking advantage favoring the USWNT.

There is, of course, the interesting subplot that whichever side finishes top of Group F will be just one more victory away from a quarterfinals matchup with the host nation and strong favorite to win this tournament, France. On the other hand, whoever finishes second will move to the other half of the bracket and avoid the French until a potential meeting in the final.

While it was Sweden’s day on the whole, the lasting memory of Sunday’s game will forever be Thailand’s emotional celebration following their first goal of the tournament.

Monday’s Women’s World Cup schedule

Group A

China v. Spain — 12 p.m. ET
South Africa v. Germany — 12 p.m. ET

Group B

Nigeria v. France — 3 p.m. ET
South Korea v. Norway — 3 p.m. ET

Three things learned: USWNT v. Thailand

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The U.S. Women’s National Team couldn’t have picked a better way to open their World Cup account, smashing Thailand on its way to a 13-0 victory.

[READ: How it happened: USWNT beats Thailand, 13-0]

While it might seem like there’s not a ton to take away from a game that got out of hand early, here’s three important facets we learned from Tuesday’s blowout win.


Underrate the USWNT at your own peril

Unlike in previous World Cups, the USWNT was literally one of the last two teams to take the field for the first time in the tournament. All that pent-up energy and time waiting and watching the other teams play could have led to this result, in which the U.S. was in all-out attack mode from the opening whistle.

Remember when France’s 4-0 win over South Korea was the bar for a comprehensive victory? Now, the USWNT has blown that out of the water. Yes, South Korea is at a higher level than Thailand, but the result is the same. The U.S. could have easily just completed 200-consecutive passes and waited for the clock to run out, but by building up their goal differential – the first tiebreaker in the group stage, the USWNT ensured it has an advantage in that department moving forward.

This USWNT squad, despite the up-and-down form heading into the World Cup, is clearly one not to be underrated, lest you want to end up on the end of a smashing.


Anyone can score

Again, a disclaimer – yes, it was just Thailand. However, the way the USWNT played, it showed that there’s goals in almost everyone on the field. Seven different players scored, including two off the bench, and of course, star striker Alex Morgan now has five goals to her name this World Cup. If Sweden was hoping for a USWNT that’s not confident in front of goal, all they have to do is watch the highlights from this one to see that they’ll be able to pass, dribble and shoot its way through anyone.

But again, it’s not just that Morgan scored five goals. All three starting central midfielders scored – Lindsey Horan, Samantha Mewis, and Rose Lavelle (both braces). Mal Pugh, who started against Sweden in the infamous defeat on penalty kicks as an 18-year-old at the 2016 Olympics, is now coming off the bench as a 21-year-old when for any other nation, she’d be the top target forward up top.

And who can forget Carli Lloyd. Maybe one of Jill Ellis’ biggest celebrations of the evening came when Lloyd scored her delightful outside-of-the-boot goal, giving the 36-year-old yet another World Cup goal for her stat book. The goal likely calms down some issues in the locker room between Lloyd and the starters, but also proves to Ellis that if she needs a goal in a pinch, Lloyd’s the first player she should look to.


Ertz is the backup centerback

It’s a small point, but with Becky Sauerbrunn out with a minor injury, instead of turning to someone on the bench, Ellis went with Ertz, who formerly partnered with Sauerbrunn in the last two major tournaments as a centerback, even though she’s now the team’s rock as a holding midfielder.

With Ertz as the backup centerback – most of the rest of the other defensive options, other than the other starting centerback Abby Dahlkemper, are outside backs – the USWNT keeps the ability to take more midfielders on the team, and it has a centerback in-waiting that has a great passing ability and the calm and poise on the ball to start up attacks. That can be both from the edge of the USWNT’s own box to the midway line, or farther.

Obviously, centerback depth, if you’re only going to carry three, and no clear backup for the No. 6, can be dangerous if injuries or suspensions are more serious. But ultimately, the way the USWNT are playing right now, they may not need a real No. 6 except against Sweden and possibly in the second round and later of the knockout stage.

Watch Live: USWNT v. Thailand, as US kick off World Cup campaign

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This is it. The U.S. women’s national team kick off their 2019 World Cup campaign on Tuesday as they play against Thailand in Reims, France.

Jill Ellis’ side are the red-hot favorites to win Group E and they are expected to roll past minnows Thailand in their opening game of the tournament.

Below is the starting lineup for the USWNT, with Becky Sauerbrunn missing out due to a minor injury.

Remember, you can watch every single game live online in Spanish via Telemundo Deportes. All you have to do is click on the link below.

[ LIVE: Watch every single 2019 Women’s World Cup game ]

To watch the USWNT’s opening game of the tournament, click on the link below.


2019 Women’s World Cup schedule

Group F: USA v. Thailand – 3 p.m. ET – STREAM LIVE

World Cup preview: USWNT v. Thailand

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  • USWNT ready to kick off eighth World Cup campaign
  • USWNT has won six straight and has just one loss in 12 months
  • Thailand competing in second World Cup

It’s been a long wait, but the U.S. Women’s National Team is finally ready to take the field at the 2019 World Cup.

Head coach Jill Ellis has spent the past three years tinkering with the lineup and testing out new tactics, and its quite likely that Tuesday’s USWNT lineup will look quite similar to how it’s been recently, but quite different from 2016, when the USWNT was shocked by Sweden, losing on penalty kicks in the 2016 Summer Olympics quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Women’s World Cup news ]

Just five players who started that day are likely to start on Tuesday at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France, which is located about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Julie Ertz is a lock in central midfield, along with Becky Sauerbrunn at centerback and Kelley O’Hara at right back. Alex Morgan, she of more than 50 international goals and fully healthy again, along with the tricky, dribbling wizard that is Tobin Heath.

But this USWNT has taken real strides since the defeat by Sweden. Megan Rapinoe has cemented her place as a left winger, cutting inside and allowing Crystal Dunn, the last player cut from the 2015 World Cup squad, to maraud forward down the left. Rose Lavelle has broken into the team and along with Lindsey Horan, form a delightful one-two punch in box to box midfielders that are also creative and can find Heath and Rapinoe open to stretch the opponent’s backline.

If there’s anywhere that’s a question mark for this USWNT, it’s at goalkeeper, where Alyssa Naeher has patiently waited her turn, finally getting her chance after Hope Solo was effectively banished from the national team and forced into an early retirement.

Against Thailand, it will be a great opener for the U.S. to get the early nerves and jitters out of the way before going on to record what should be a comprehensive victory. There’s no guarantees at World Cups, but against a nation ranked more than 30 places lower, it should be a comfortable win for the U.S. in the end.

Plus, with Thailand and Chile as the build-up before facing Sweden, it will give the USWNT a great chance to get into their groove before facing some of the best competition this tournament has to offer.


What they’re saying

USWNT coach Jill Ellis: “‘Excitement’ is the best word to describe where I am and where the players are. The anticipation is growing. The players are ready, excited and hungry. We feel prepared. It’s been a long process, the preparation has been excellent and we’re ready to focus on tomorrow’s match.”

Thailand coach Nuengrutai Srathongvian on facing the USWNT to open the World Cup: “To face the number one team in the world at the opening match of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is a massive opportunity for us to test and assess ourselves.”


Prediction

Thailand has done very well to qualify for the World Cup, but this isn’t just any opponent. It’s the team with the best attack in all of women’s soccer. The USWNT’s forward trio of Morgan, Rapinoe and Heath should be enough on its own to break down the Thailand backline, and there will certainly be chances to score off corners as well. It should end up as a comfortable victory. USWNT 3-0 Thailand

Previewing USWNT’s Group Stage Opponents

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The U.S. Women’s National Team kicks off its World Cup defense on Tuesday, but who exactly are the USWNT facing? Let’s take a closer look.

[MORE: Women’s World Cup Content]

Thailand

How They Got Here: Thailand finished in the top five in the Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan in 2018, qualifying them for the 2019 World Cup.

Star players: Suchawadee Nildhamrong (Miranda Nild), Forward; Kanjana Sungngoen, Midfielder.

Nild, who’s Thai name is Suchawadee Nildhamrong, is one of two American-born players on the team (the other is backup goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao). Nild just wrapped up a four-year career at the University of California. Along with Sungngoen, the pair combined for six goals at the Asian Cup. Sungngoen is the top attacking player on this Thailand squad.

Style of play: Compact, counter-attacking system

Manager: Nuengrutai Srathongvian

Expectations: They shouldn’t be very high. Thailand may be able to compete in the Asian landscape, but against nations in Europe and the Americas, they’ve struggled mightily. The U.S. previously beat Thailand, 9-0 in a friendly match and finished third out of four in their group at the Cyprus Women’s Cup earlier this year. Just winning a game at the 2019 World Cup would be a huge accomplishment

What the USWNT should focus on: Considering that Thailand will be defending for their lives, it’s up to the USWNT’s creative players to not only make clever runs into space but to also find their teammates open in the box for chances on goal.


Chile

How they got here: Chile finished as runners-up in the Copa America Femenina, landing a place at the World Cup thanks to a 4-0 thrashing of Argentina in the final match of the tournament. It’s an amazing story, as Chile’s team basically didn’t play for two years between 2015 and 2017, and the majority of the team’s players are as such, inexperienced at the international level and playing abroad.

Star players: Maria Jose Rojas, Yanara Aedo

Style of play: Quick in transitions, fast passing.

Manager: Jose Letelier

Expectations: Playing in its first World Cup, expectations are low, but perhaps Chile can leave with a win, likely over Thailand.

What the USWNT should focus on: The USWNT had the fortune of playing Chile in a pair of friendly matches in late August-early September 2018, winning by a combined 7-0 margin. By working the wings with Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara, the USWNT can create overloads on the outside and deliver great balls into the box, where the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe can finish them off.


Sweden

How they got here: Sweden easily won Group 4 of the UEFA World Cup qualification process, with seven wins and just one defeat.

Star players: Stina Blackstenius, Caroline Seger

Style of play: Compact, defensive, direct counter-attacks in transitions

Manager: Peter Gerhardsson

Expectations: While not considered one of the favorites, Sweden is certainly a dark-horse to make a deep run in the tournament. They are very focused on keeping a compact defensive unit and then playing long and scoring on the counter. If they’re not giving up goals, they have a chance, especially after finishing runners-up at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

What the USWNT should focus on: Sweden of course is a team that the USWNT knows very well. It will be a huge challenge to break down the Sweden defense, so they’ll need Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe to combine with the midfield at times and make deep runs to open up space in behind for other teammates to use when attacking Sweden’s goal.