(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Women’s National Team is getting ready to defend its title at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, which kicks off Thursday.
Ahead of their opener on Friday, here are five facts about the powerhouse team that’s looking to bring home a record third straight trophy:
1. This will be Megan Rapinoe’s last World Cup.
This month, Megan Rapinoe announced she would be retiring after the 2023 Women’s World Cup and once the NWSL season wraps up in October.
The veteran, who has played in 17 World Cup matches and is an Olympic gold and bronze medalist, will be capping off a record-breaking career, most recently as a forward for the OL Reign.
“It is with a deep sense of peace & gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game,” the 38-year-old tweeted on July 8. “I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape & change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, she knew all along.”
2. The 2023 national team has grown more diverse.
U.S. Soccer has made a conscious push to diversify the women’s national team and this year, the team includes more players of color and more players from different backgrounds than past teams.
They include defender Naomi Girma of the National Women’s Soccer League’s San Diego Wave FC, who is the daughter of Ethiopian immigrants.
3. There are three moms on the national team.
Co-captain Alex Morgan leads the 23-member team but is also part of the trio of pro athlete moms at the peak of their game. Morgan, a forward, is joined by defender Crystal Dunn and midfielder Julie Ertz.
Morgan, now 34, has a daughter named Charlie, while Dunn, 31, has a son named Marcel. Ertz, 31, is the newest mom on the team, having welcomed a son named Madden last August.
4. Dennis Rodman’s daughter is on the team.
Trinity Rodman, the youngest of NBA champion Dennis Rodman’s children, is a forward on the national team. Over the years, Trinity Rodman, now 21, has made a name for herself as a valuable player and when she’s not playing for the national team, she’s a forward for the Washington Spirit.
Rodman told ESPN’s Futbol Americas that she expects the U.S. national team will be “ruthless” and repeat their championship-winning playbook.
“We’re never going to give up and we’re going to get the title,” Rodman said, adding, “This team is something special. We want it more than ever, so I expect a gold medal.”
5. The youngest American player is only 18.
Alyssa Thompson, a midfielder for Angel City FC in Los Angeles, is joining veteran teammates Morgan and Rapinoe as one of the six forwards for the national team. Thompson, whose 19th birthday won’t be until November, made history in January as the youngest player to ever be drafted into the NWSL and was the first to be drafted right out of high school, according to her official Angel City biography.
Thompson told Yahoo Sports earlier this month that she had dreamed about making the World Cup team since she was a young girl.
“I’ve been wanting to be on the World Cup team since I was little,” the 18-year-old said. “I didn’t think it would happen so soon. But since it did, I was very happy. And my sister was there and my whole family was there. And my mom and dad were crying. They were so happy.”
When and how to watch the Women’s World Cup
The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins on July 20, with New Zealand taking on Norway in Auckland and Australia competing against Ireland in Sydney. The tournament will run until Aug. 20.
The U.S. team will face off against Vietnam in their first match on July 21, which will be held in Eden Park in Auckland. The game begins 9 p.m. ET.
Fans can watch World Cup matches on Fox, FS1 and on FuboTV.
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