Who USWNT fans should root for at Women’s World Cup: Australia make sense, Sweden and Netherlands don’t



australia

The U.S. women’s national team may be out of the Women’s World Cup, but there’s still a group of eight teams competing for the ultimate prize in Australia and New Zealand that may just catch your eye as the competition continues.

Considering the wide variety of teams still competing, there’s a team for everyone in search of rooting interests. The favorites still boast some of the world’s best players, but this edition of the World Cup also has an impressive number of dark horse contenders that can play spoiler. The best World Cup for neutrals in recent memory may mean it’s time to root for the underdogs — and be rewarded for doing so.

For those more interested in cheering for the real thing, there’s plenty of fun in store for you. There are just as many nervous moments ahead, too. In the most competitive Women’s World Cup yet, there are few easy games left. Choose your rooting interests wisely.

Here’s who you should root for, ranked:

8. Sweden

If the fact that Sweden knocked out the USWNT doesn’t bother you, Sweden is another dark-horse candidate to win the whole thing. Goalkeeper Zecira Musovic’s name is worth remembering after she made 11 saves against the Americans, but Sweden have a habit of disappointing in the later stages of an international tournament so you may not be rooting for long.

7. The Netherlands

It might be hard to convince any USWNT fan to root for a team that gave their side a rough time, but the Dutch are poised to make a deep run thanks to a favorable draw. They also might deliver some fun moments along the way — Jill Roord is competing for the Golden Boot and already has four goals Down Under, while 20-year-old forward Esmee Brugts is announcing herself as one of the game’s top young players.

6. Spain

Like France, Spain are knocking on the door of the top teams and boasts some of the best players in the world in Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmati and a uniquely attractive style of play. They already booked their best World Cup performance with a spot in the quarterfinals and could go all the way, which would be a lovely triumph for a group of world-class players. It’s worth wondering, though, if victory Down Under would be a reason for the Royal Spanish Football Federation to ignore player complaints that head coach Jorde Vilda’s approach was damaging for “their emotional state and health.”

5. England

For those who prefer to root for a favorite, England are the team for you. The Lionesses are now the oddsmakers’ choice to win the whole thing and boast some of the top players in the world in Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze, as well as the game’s best coach in Sarina Wiegman. The games will not always be fun — England won two games 1-0 and did not score at all against Nigeria — but the team emerges victorious more often than not, which is worth its weight in gold.

4. France

France have long been searching for a breakthrough moment at a major tournament, so if you want to back a team right before anyone could accuse you of bandwagoning, Les Bleues are as good a pick as any. The team is arguably peaking at the right time and has talent across the pitch, including in-form striker Kadidiatou Diani and legendary center back Wendie Renard, who may be playing at her final World Cup.

3. Japan

If you prefer a dark horse with some history over a genuine underdog, Japan fit the bill nicely. They’ve barely put a foot wrong at this World Cup and are one of the highest-scoring teams left — they’ve scored 14 goals so far and Hinata Miyazawa leads the golden boot race with five goals. The performances have the team dreaming of their first semifinal since 2015 and perhaps a repeat of 2011 when Japan won the whole thing.

2. Colombia

This World Cup will be remembered as one where lower-ranked teams demonstrated that the quality gap is rapidly closing in women’s soccer, and few teams are more emblematic of that than Colombia. The team delivered one of the more memorable upsets of the tournament when they beat Germany in dramatic fashion and have a realistic chance at their first Women’s World Cup quarterfinal ahead of facing Jamaica. They will be a genuine underdog should they advance, but it’s hard to count out in-form teams in knockout tournaments.

Colombia also have Linda Caicedo, the 18-year-old forward who may just be the breakout player of the tournament. Caicedo beat ovarian cancer at the age of 15 and has since risen up the ranks of the women’s game in style — she’s at her third World Cup in a year after playing at recent U-20 and U-17 tournaments and has scored at all three.

1. Australia

Australia provide perhaps the perfect package for a neutral fan: they play an entertaining style, are in strong form, are a dark horse candidate to win the whole thing, boast one of the world’s best players, and have that intangible feel-good factor with the prospects of winning their first World Cup on home soil.

The team is only just hitting their stride, too. They struggled early on without Sam Kerr but discovered how to win without her in time for the knockout rounds but their best may be yet to come. Kerr recovered from a calf injury that kept her out of the group stage and played 10 minutes in the round of 16 win over Denmark, which could mean she’s ready to showcase her star power as Australia look to go all the way.




Summarize this content to 300 words The U.S. women’s national team may be out of the Women’s World Cup, but there’s still a group of eight teams competing for the ultimate prize in Australia and New Zealand that may just catch your eye as the competition continues. Considering the wide variety of teams still competing, there’s a team for everyone in search of rooting interests. The favorites still boast some of the world’s best players, but this edition of the World Cup also has an impressive number of dark horse contenders that can play spoiler. The best World Cup for neutrals in recent memory may mean it’s time to root for the underdogs — and be rewarded for doing so. For those more interested in cheering for the real thing, there’s plenty of fun in store for you. There are just as many nervous moments ahead, too. In the most competitive Women’s World Cup yet, there are few easy games left. Choose your rooting interests wisely. Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe. Thanks for signing up! Keep an eye on your inbox. Sorry! There was an error processing your subscription. Here’s who you should root for, ranked: 8. SwedenIf the fact that Sweden knocked out the USWNT doesn’t bother you, Sweden is another dark-horse candidate to win the whole thing. Goalkeeper Zecira Musovic’s name is worth remembering after she made 11 saves against the Americans, but Sweden have a habit of disappointing in the later stages of an international tournament so you may not be rooting for long. 7. The Netherlands It might be hard to convince any USWNT fan to root for a team that gave their side a rough time, but the Dutch are poised to make a deep run thanks to a favorable draw. They also might deliver some fun moments along the way — Jill Roord is competing for the Golden Boot and already has four goals Down Under, while 20-year-old forward Esmee Brugts is announcing herself as one of the game’s top young players. 6. Spain Like France, Spain are knocking on the door of the top teams and boasts some of the best players in the world in Alexia Putellas and Aitana Bonmati and a uniquely attractive style of play. They already booked their best World Cup performance with a spot in the quarterfinals and could go all the way, which would be a lovely triumph for a group of world-class players. It’s worth wondering, though, if victory Down Under would be a reason for the Royal Spanish Football Federation to ignore player complaints that head coach Jorde Vilda’s approach was damaging for “their emotional state and health.” 5. England For those who prefer to root for a favorite, England are the team for you. The Lionesses are now the oddsmakers’ choice to win the whole thing and boast some of the top players in the world in Keira Walsh and Lucy Bronze, as well as the game’s best coach in Sarina Wiegman. The games will not always be fun — England won two games 1-0 and did not score at all against Nigeria — but the team emerges victorious more often than not, which is worth its weight in gold. 4. France France have long been searching for a breakthrough moment at a major tournament, so if you want to back a team right before anyone could accuse you of bandwagoning, Les Bleues are as good a pick as any. The team is arguably peaking at the right time and has talent across the pitch, including in-form striker Kadidiatou Diani and legendary center back Wendie Renard, who may be playing at her final World Cup. 3. Japan If you prefer a dark horse with some history over a genuine underdog, Japan fit the bill nicely. They’ve barely put a foot wrong at this World Cup and are one of the highest-scoring teams left — they’ve scored 14 goals so far and Hinata Miyazawa leads the golden boot race with five goals. The performances have the team dreaming of their first semifinal since 2015 and perhaps a repeat of 2011 when Japan won the whole thing. 2. Colombia This World Cup will be remembered as one where lower-ranked teams demonstrated that the quality gap is rapidly closing in women’s soccer, and few teams are more emblematic of that than Colombia. The team delivered one of the more memorable upsets of the tournament when they beat Germany in dramatic fashion and have a realistic chance at their first Women’s World Cup quarterfinal ahead of facing Jamaica. They will be a genuine underdog should they advance, but it’s hard to count out in-form teams in knockout tournaments. Colombia also have Linda Caicedo, the 18-year-old forward who may just be the breakout player of the tournament. Caicedo beat ovarian cancer at the age of 15 and has since risen up the ranks of the women’s game in style — she’s at her third World Cup in a year after playing at recent U-20 and U-17 tournaments and has scored at all three. 1. Australia Australia provide perhaps the perfect package for a neutral fan: they play an entertaining style, are in strong form, are a dark horse candidate to win the whole thing, boast one of the world’s best players, and have that intangible feel-good factor with the prospects of winning their first World Cup on home soil. The team is only just hitting their stride, too. They struggled early on without Sam Kerr but discovered how to win without her in time for the knockout rounds but their best may be yet to come. Kerr recovered from a calf injury that kept her out of the group stage and played 10 minutes in the round of 16 win over Denmark, which could mean she’s ready to showcase her star power as Australia look to go all the way. 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