Jul 21, 2023 - Sports

What to know about the U.S. women's soccer team

Four players on the women's national soccer team during a practice. They all wear black uniforms.

The U.S. Women's National Team trains in Aukland, N.Z., on July 20. Photo: Robin Alam/USSF/Getty Images

The number-one ranked U.S. women's national soccer team will play its first game of the Women's World Cup on Friday, kicking off the quest to defend its world champion status.

Why it matters: The U.S. women's team has been dominant for decades — winning four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals — and the team is chasing an unprecedented third consecutive title.

  • This year's tournament is on track to become the most attended standalone women’s sporting event in history, according to FIFA, and it is expected to be the most lucrative women’s World Cup in history.

What we're watching: The team will play Vietnam at 9 p.m. eastern Friday.

  • Its next matches in the group stage are on Wednesday against the Netherlands, followed by an Aug. 1 game against Portugal.

Megan Rapinoe, a two-time Women's World Cup champion, announced earlier this month that this would be her last World Cup.

Details: Ages on the national team range from 18 to 38, per U.S. Soccer.

  • More than half of the team's 23 players are making their World Cup debut.
  • "[The veterans] reiterated to lean on them if there’s something we’re struggling with, which I think is such an incredible thing to do," said midfielder Andi Sullivan in a news release. "They want to perform their best but they’re still looking out for us newbies."

Between the lines: The team's starting roster is missing some star players, including captain Becky Sauerbrunn, due to injuries.

Team USA is aiming to destigmatize conversations around mental health in an initiative targeting young athletes, led by defender Naomi Girma.

  • Girma's former teammate at Stanford University, Katie Meyer, died by suicide last spring.

What they're saying: The White House and other U.S. national sports teams encouraged the soccer players.

Of note: All teams in the Women's World Cup now have base camps (combination of a hotel and training facility) for the first time, which were already part of the men's tournament.

  • Previously, teams changed cities and facilities every few days.

After a years long fight for equal pay, the U.S. Soccer Federation reached an agreement in 2022 to pay all national players equally, including at World Cups.

Go deeper: Women's World Cup preview: U.S. goes for three straight

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