Team USA begins its quest for back-to-back World Cup titles
The wait is finally over. It's Team USA's turn at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France as they'll open up their portion of Group F against Thailand. The games kicked off this past weekend, but the United States Women's National Soccer Team (USWNT) had to be patient over these last few days because the group schedule is so spread out. The spotlight is now on Team USA against a Thai team that they do have a little bit of history with.
These teams met in an international friendly back on Sept. 15, 2016, it was a 9-0 victory for the Americans. But since then Thailand has gained more international experience. Now they are making just their second World Cup appearance in which they hope to shock the world, starting with the United States. Team USA has gone 2-0-1 in their last three World Cup openers so Thailand will have their work cut out.
United States (USA) vs. Thailand
When: Tuesday, June 11 at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Stade Auguste-Delaune II (Reims, France)
Three Things to Watch
1. Don't sleep on Thailand
While this may be only the second trip to the World Cup for Thailand, they made some accomplishments on the road to France. They posted a 6-0 record and outscored their opposition 37-5 to win the 2018 AFF Women's Championship. They've also gone 11-11-1 in their last 23 matches overall heading into the World Cup, and they've averaged close to two goals per game during that stretch. In all the Thai women's team has won four AFF Women's Championships, three Southeast Asian Games titles (runner-up in 2017), and an AFC Women's Asian Cup. They are fully capable of giving a competitive effort at the World Cup.
2. Team USA dominates in World Cup openers
As Team USA has played in every Women's World Cup thus far, they have had nothing but success in their opening games. The U.S. is 5-0-2 in opening matches and has scored 19 total goals in those games. Getting the Americans to drop one now will be easier said than done.
3. Team USA's success against Asian teams
Since the women's team's inception in 1987, they have posted an impressive 57-6-17 record against opposition from the Asian Football Confederation. The last time they lost to a team from this part of the world was a 1-0 friendly against China back in 2015. Earlier this year they played Japan to a draw (2-2). Team USA averages roughly three goals per game against Asian opponents, so expect them to take plenty of shots against Thailand.
Thailand will give everything they have against the United States, but in the end, Team USA continues its run in World Cup openers. The Americans should have little trouble as they open their title defense.
Prediction: United States 4, Thailand 1
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top graphic courtesy of @USWNT)