The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) will make its seventh World Cup appearance at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be played in six Canadian cities (Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Moncton) from June 6 until July 5. These are the red, white and blue names to know:
Miss America: Alex Morgan
Four years ago, Alex Morgan was the youngest member of a USWNT that lost to Japan in the FIFA World Cup Final in Germany. Then then-22-year-old scored the first goal of the final match — one of her two goals in the tournament, both of which came in the Knockout Stage. But she was not called upon to shoot penalties, as the USA lost the shootout to Japan, 3–1, following a 2–2 draw in regulation and extra time.
Since then, her life has done a bicycle kick. She has gone from phenom forward to established star striker, as arguably the face of U.S. Soccer. She has been named U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year, been a finalist for FIFA World Player of the Year, posed in body paint for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, married fellow Californian soccer star Servando Carrasco and appeared on FOX’s American Idol — where she and Abby Wambach gave host Ryan Seacrest a USWNT jersey, as the “official waterboy.”
Comfortable in her skin and firmly in her prime, Morgan is poised to take over the world — or at least the World Cup. If Team USA hopes to bring the golden World Cup trophy south of the border back from Canada, the USWNT will rely heavily on Morgan’s fleet feet to make it happen.
Boss: Jill Ellis
The 48-year-old is making her World Cup debut as coach of the USWNT after serving as an assistant on the 2008 and 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning national teams.
Solo Artist: Hope Solo
The USWNT netminder broke Brianna Scurry’s U.S. record for shutouts. Solo aims to add to that mark while making her third World Cup appearance as the go-to goalie.
Captain: Christine Rampone
The only remaining member of the 1999 World Cup champions, the veteran leader of the USWNT — and mother of two — will turn 40 years old during this year’s World Cup.
Icon: Abby Wambach
One of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, Wambach has scored more international goals — 178 in 239 matches — than anyone (man or woman) in soccer history.
Import: Sydney Leroux
Born in Surrey, British Columbia, to a Canadian mother and American father, Leroux chose to play for the USA but will make her Canadian homecoming this summer.
Group of Death: Part II
Last summer, the U.S. Men’s National Team survived the infamous “Group of Death.” This summer, the USWNT has drawn the group with the highest total of combined FIFA points. But unlike their male counterparts, the American women are favored entering the tournament and have a history of World Cup success.
Team USA won the inaugural 1991 World Cup in China and was triumphant again as the host nation at the 1999 World Cup, which was capped by a thrilling shootout victory and shirtless celebration by Brandi Chastain. In order to challenge for a third World Cup crown, the USWNT will first have to go toe-to-toe with these three teams.
(June 8, 7:30 ET, Winnipeg)
The Matildas are ranked No. 10 in the world and boast an explosive offense powered by seasoned forwards Lisa De Vanna and Kate Gill, along with rising stars like 20-year-old Caitlin Foord, who is making her second World Cup appearance after making her debut at 16.
(June 12, 8:00 ET, Winnipeg)
The fifth-ranked Blue-Yellow are led by former Team USA coach Pia Sundhage, the 2012 FIFA World Coach of the Year who guided the USWNT to a runner-up finish at the 2011 World Cup — a tournament in which the Swedes defeated the Yanks, 2–1, in group play.
(June 16, 8:00 ET, Vancouver)
Although the Super Falcons are easily the fourth-best team in Group D, they should not be overlooked. The 2014 African champs have one of the world’s top young talents in Asisat Oshoala, the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball winner and African Women’s Footballer of the Year.