The Women’s World Cup is up and coming in July 2023


The Catalyst / Gianna Shaughnessy

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is right around the corner. Set to begin on July 20, New Zealand and Australia are co-hosting the World Cup, the first two countries to co-host one in history. The tournament will continue until the championship match is played on August 20. The USA Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT), will be attempting to defend their back-to-back titles, following their wins from both 2015 and 2019.

Although the USWNT was the favorite to win gold at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the team suffered a devastating loss to Canada in the semi-finals. Although they went on to claim third place and the bronze medal, it led many fans to speculate that the rest of the world, in particular European countries, had caught up to the United States’ level of play.

The team has been in a period of transition since the Olympics. This is mainly due to the retirement of USWNT Veteran Carli Lloyd, long-term injuries for a number of key players, most notably Tierna Davidson, Caterina Macario, Kelley O’Hara, and Sam Mewis, and other players currently on maternity leave, including Julie Ertz. These absences have left gaps in the roster for younger players to fill, in particular Stanford graduate Sophia Smith, the team’s leading goal scorer in 2022, and Mallory Swanson, a veteran player despite being only 24 years old.

In July, the USWNT qualified for the World Cup, playing five matches, retaining five clean sheets, and scoring thirteen goals. The team then went on to play Nigeria in September, outscoring the Nigerians six to one in two matches. This outcome was somewhat expected since the U.S. is currently ranked as the best women’s soccer team in the world while Nigeria is ranked forty-fifth.

The road to the World Cup became more challenging when the U.S. played England and Spain in early October and lost to both teams. Although the loss to England was disappointing, it was not unexpected as England’s team is ranked fourth-best in the world. The Spaniards’ victory over the U.S. was considered an upset, as Spanish veterans were sitting out the game in protest against their organization’s leadership and inexperienced players rounded out the roster.

The USWNT then played two games against Germany, the second best team in the world, in November. The teams split the games with Germany winning the first and the Americans winning the second. The latter match somewhat settled the nerves fans were feeling but did not convince anyone of the USWNT’s ability to win the World Cup.

Most recently, the U.S. played New Zealand twice on January 17 and January 20. The team outscored New Zealand nine goals to none, with three netted by Swanson. Some positions were also experimented with during these friendlies, as the coaching staff tried different combinations of players, specifically in the midfield.

With the World Cup fast approaching this summer and only a few matches until the World Cup roster is announced, the USWNT is working to prove they can win despite the many absences of key players and the growth of women’s competitive soccer worldwide.