Women's World Cup draw verdict: USA gets easy group, later faces potential roadblock in Paris

The defending champion USA was drawn with Thailand, Chile and Sweden for the group stage of the Women's World Cup in one of the easiest first-round groups it has ever been placed in. The action will begin in the knockout phase, where the USA could face a potential roadblock in the quarterfinals.

Women's World Cup draw:
Group A. France, South Korea, Norway, Nigeria.
Group B. Germany, China, Spain, South Africa.
Group C. Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica.
Group D. England, Scotland, Japan, Argentina.
Group E. Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands.
Group F. USA, Thailand, Chile, Sweden.

The Swedish game will be a rematch of the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal in which the Swedes beat the USA in a shootout. Sweden also handed the USA its last defeat in the Women's World Cup, winning, 2-1, in 2011. They played to a 0-0 tie in the second game of the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada. The USA and Sweden also met in 1991, 2003 and 2007 and the USA won each time in the group stage.

The Women's World Cup simply doesn't yet have the depth that the men's tournament has, and with a couple exceptions -- Italy in Pot 3 and Nigeria in Pot 4 -- few potential opponents from the lower half of the field would trouble the USA. Compared to Australia, Nigeria and Sweden four years ago, Thailand, Chile and Sweden will be a piece of cake.

The match of the tournament could be France-USA at the Parc des Princes in Paris. The hosts received a much tougher draw -- South Korea, Norway and Nigeria in Group A -- but they will play the USA in the quarterfinals if both teams win their groups and round-of-16 matches. Already, FIFA has rescheduled the kickoff time of the game back to 6 p.m. local time (noon ET) to accommodate Fox Sports' U.S. viewing desires.

U.S. coach Jill Ellis abhors discussion of the USA's status as defending champion.

"It comes with the territory," she said after the draw. "The history of this program, the players grow up in it, so for myself and the players, the expectation is the demand for your best. For us, it's an opportunity to go out and test ourselves against the best teams in the world, and our players thrive in that environment."

Ellis said the pressure will be on France as the host country (and a team that has historically underperformed).

"I always say the home country has the most pressure on them," she said. "We're going forward looking to attack the World Cup, so our players are just relishing that challenge. We have a great balance: players who have been there and seen it and know what it takes, and players that are new to their first World Cup potentially. All the players are hungry and ready for the experience. So, it's a really good position for us."

Thailand (June 11 in Reims).
FIFA Ranking: 29.
Qualifying: Fourth in AFC Women's Cup.
World Cup History: One appearance (2015: 17th).
U.S. Series: USA leads 1-0-0.

Chile (June 16 in Paris).
FIFA Ranking: 38.
Qualifying: Second in Copa America Femenina.
World Cup History: No appearance.
U.S. Series: USA leads 2-0-0.

Sweden (June 20 in Le Havre).
FIFA Ranking: 38.
Qualifying: First in UEFA Group 4.
World Cup History: Seven appearances (1991: 3rd; 1995: 5th; 1999: 6th; 2003: Runners-Up; 2007: 10th; 2011: 3rd; 2015: 16th).
U.S. Series: USA leads 21-6-11.

5 comments about "Women's World Cup draw verdict: USA gets easy group, later faces potential roadblock in Paris".
  1. uffe gustafsson, December 8, 2018 at 10 p.m.

    Piece of cake to play Sweden?
    really! Think we have a big say in that.
    olympcis?
    that very arrogant and hope it back fires.
    but think both got a great group to move on.
    but think you need to tone it down a noth.
    be confident is good but arrogance is the killer to loose.
    lets see it on June 20 on the field and I bet the Swedish women have something to say.

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, December 8, 2018 at 10:16 p.m.

    Uffe, he didn't belittle Sweden. He wrote: "Compared to Australia, Nigeria and Sweden four years ago, Thailand, Chile and Sweden will be a piece of cake."

  3. Adam Cohen, December 9, 2018 at 1:18 a.m.

    hey Uffe!
    the only one being arrogant is the sportswriter.   i think team usa knows it has to bring an A game and is probably glad to know that Schelin has retired :)

  4. uffe gustafsson, December 9, 2018 at 2:10 a.m.

    Got u guys but piece of cake is nothing I would use.
    thats arrogance and hope either Chile or Thailand somehow score on you and make those comments come back and hurt you. Never take out a win before you actually played the game. Olympic????

  5. uffe gustafsson, December 9, 2018 at 2:10 a.m.

    Got u guys but piece of cake is nothing I would use.
    thats arrogance and hope either Chile or Thailand somehow score on you and make those comments come back and hurt you. Never take out a win before you actually played the game. Olympic????

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