2015 Womens World Cup
If you reside in the USA, picturesque Canada is usually the fairly quiet neighbour to the North but all that will change for a few weeks beginning June 6 when the country hosts the Women's World Cup. Comparing the men’s and women’s World Cups is all a bit David and Goliath but there’s no questioning the excitement that the modern Women's World Cup can generate. With the current FIFA scandal ringing in everybody’s ears, the timing of this tournament, ironically after a major disagreement with FIFA over the use of plastic pitches, may be just what the world’s football governing body needs.
So just who are the tournament favourites? In my mind, particularly since this is almost a home tournament for them, look no further than the USA. One main benefit for the USA is that they continue to reap the benefits of grass roots equality in the game whilst many countries have to battle against the traditional mindset of ‘it’s a man’s game’ This may be the last World Cup where the USA can take advantage of their historical gender equality approach as other nations catch up fast.
Frankly it’s difficult to believe the USA have not won the World Cup since hosting the tournament in 1999 (they also hosted in 2003 but did not win) and many (including this author) are inclined to believe this is their year. The USA are always a physically powerful team, among their multitude of talents count the physical prowess of Abby Wambach, the goal scoring threat of Alex Morgan and the very capable goalkeeping of Hope Solo. They will be a very difficult team to beat and I feel any opponent getting the better of them will need, among other things, more than their fair share of luck.
Teams that are realistically capable of beating the USA are few and far between but include their 2011 World Cup Final conquerors Japan. Germany and France will also be looking to stake their claim, Germany having the additional motivation of trying to ‘threepeat’ as World Cup winners before the USA – now that would add extra spice if they were to meet in the final!
As a native of England it’s great to see we are represented but expectations are not overly optimistic, even though we deserved a draw in a February friendly against the USA – Jodie Taylor the victim of an incredibly bad offside decision as she scored a legitimate equalizer for England. That being said I would not expect the game to be close should England and the US meet for real in Canada - a bit like the men I just hope we get out of our group!
So the stage is set I’m sure Canada will be great hosts. Get ready for a true festival of football where wholesome, family oriented entertainment is still the norm and the only biting you see will be in the tackles!
Thanks for reading
Neil M. Smart
Neil is a native of England who now resides in the USA. He is a lifelong fan of the beautiful game and has been involved ‘stateside’ in youth soccer development for close to 30 years.