The U.S. women have their first win of next summer’s World Cup.
The defending champions got what looks to be the easiest draw of the group stage Saturday, pitted against Thailand and Chile in Group F. Thailand won one game and gave up 10 goals in its first World Cup appearance in 2015 while Chile will be making its World Cup debut in France.
But then there’s Sweden, the U.S. women’s old foe and its final opponent in Group F.
The Americans tied Sweden in group play in 2015. A year later, however, the Americans lost to Sweden in the quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics, a shocking upset that still grates on the U.S. women.
“Obviously Sweden,” Tobin Heath said on Fox Sports when asked what about Group F stood out to her.
The top two teams in each of the six groups advance to the knockout rounds, though, so facing Sweden at this point in the tournament won’t be as dire as it was in Rio. And by the time the Americans play Sweden on June 20 in Le Havre, both teams could already be through to the next stage.
The game will still have consequences, though. The winner of Group F could be looking at a quarterfinal matchup with host France, while whoever finishes second could see Germany in the quarters.
The Americans begin their defense of their third World Cup title June 11 in Reims against Thailand. The U.S. has played Thailand only once before, a 9-0 thrashing in 2016 that included three goals and four assists by Carli Lloyd.
The next game is June 16 in Paris against Chile, which the U.S. had never played until two matches this fall. The Americans held Chile scoreless in both, winning 4-0 on Sept. 4 and 3-0 on Aug. 31.
The World Cup begins June 7, with France hosting South Korea in Paris. The final is July 7 in Lyon.