Parity, bigger field could lead to surprises at the Women’s World Cup
There could be some some surprises at the Women’s World Cup.
Sure, the U.S. is still considered dominant, and those elite European teams have developed even more with the rise of competitive clubs. Then there’s Brazil, which always seems on the verge of a breakout.
But an expanded field of 32 teams at the tournament starting Thursday in Australia and New Zealand means more players will see the international spotlight — and they no doubt want to prove they belong.
Back in 2011, Japan wasn’t expected to make the semifinals, let alone the championship match. But the Japanese, reeling from the earthquake and tsunami that devastated their country earlier that year, rallied and beat the Americans on penalties after a 2-2 draw, and in the process became the first Asian team to win soccer’s top prize.
That was the last Women’s World Cup that wasn’t won by the United States. The No. 1-ranked Americans aim to make it three in a row.
U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski is well aware that other countries are catching up. He pointed to Zambia’s exhibiti