The USWNT find themselves in the most difficult side of the World Cup bracket after defeating Sweden to win Group F. Team USA will take on Spain in their first match of the Knockout Round, and the other top teams on their side of the bracket include France, England, Brazil and Australia.
Prior to their victory over Sweden, there was some discussion that the USA would try to finish as the runner-up to be on the opposite side of the bracket as France. USA manager Jill Ellis shot down these rumors by emphasizing the team was focused on winning all of their games.
“If our team can focus on our performance and play at the level we can, we are a challenge and a handful for any team,” Ellis told The Seattle Times. “You can’t handpick who you want to play in this tournament; the team in front of you becomes the priority.”
The USWNT finished up group play with a 2-0 victory over Sweden. It was the most difficult test the USA has faced in the 2019 World Cup to date, but the team still handled their opponent with poise.
USA Could Play France in the Next Round of the World Cup
Team USA could face France in the quarterfinals if both teams advance. The U.S. would have to defeat Spain, while France needs a win over Brazil. Unlike the group stage, a loss eliminates either team from the tournament. France and the United States are considered the favorites to win the World Cup.
However, based on how the bracket plays out they could end up squaring off in the next round rather than the final. If the USWNT advances they will play either France or Brazil in the quarterfinals on Friday, June 28. The USWNT had a little extra motivation to not just advance as the Group F runner-up, but defeat Sweden to win the group. The U.S. lost to Sweden in the 2016 Olympics and several players admitted they had plenty of motivation to get a little revenge this time around.
“It showed that we were going to have to add something to our game,” Becky Sauerbrunn told ESPN. “Sweden bunkered in on us, obviously. And I think we’ve seen in this tournament that some of the teams are bunkering in. It’s very hard to break down. You see teams you would think could run up the score eking out 1-0 or 2-1 games. I think it’s just the evolution of the game. Sweden started defending in a low block, and we had to learn how to attack and break down a low block. We absolutely learned a lot from that game.”
The 2019 Women’s World Cup final will take place on Sunday, July 7 at 5 p.m Eastern. Team USA is hoping they will have a chance to win back-to-back World Cup titles.