The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins Saturday in Canada, with Team USA opening against Australia on June 8 in Winnipeg. It also will play Sweden (June 12) and Nigeria (June 16) in the first round, with the tournament set to end July 5. With the U.S. women seeking their third Women’s World Cup title and first since 1999, here are some interesting items about some of the key players:
Club Team: Houston Dash
Lloyd has scored the second-most international goals on the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup roster (63), behind only forward and world-record holder Abby Wambach (182). Known to have scoring prowess with her head and both feet, Lloyd also has a reputation for shooting — and scoring — from distance, particularly with her left foot. She scored both goals over Japan to lead Team USA to a 2-1 victory and the gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Player Who Will Turn Heads On And Off Field: Alex Morgan
Age: 25 (turns 26 on July 2)
Club Team: Portland Thorns
After scoring the winning goal over North Korea for Team USA in the final at the 2008 U-20 Women’s World Cup, Morgan made her senior U.S. women’s team debut two years later. With 51 goals in 84 games, she has become the team’s No. 2 forward behind Wambach. Photogenic and charismatic, she is a fan favorite and featured in much of the pre-tournament marketing. However, she has been suffering from a bruised left knee for over a month and didn’t play in the send-off series. The team is hoping she can work her way up to bigger minutes as the tournament goes on.
Freshest Faces:Julie Johnston
Club Team: Chicago Red Stars
The captain of the U.S. team that won the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup, Johnston is the least internationally experienced member on Team USA’s 2015 Women’s World Cup roster outside reserve goalkeepers Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher. Johnston has taken over right central defensive position in recent weeks, replacing longtime stalwart Christie Rampone. Johnston played only five games with the senior national team the previous two years, but seven of 10 this year, scoring three goals.
Club Team: Chicago Red Stars
Although older than some other members of Team USA’s 2015 World Cup roster, such as Johnston and Morgan, Christen Press has only been a member of the team for two years and yet has 20 goals in 45 games. Listed as a forward, she also plays in midfield. The winner of the Hermann Trophy as the best women’s college soccer player in 2010 in her final year at Stanford, Press played one year in the now defunct Women’s Professional Soccer league with magicJack and then went to Sweden, where she spent three years with two different teams.
Someone Who Will Make Young Mothers Jealous: Christie Rampone
Age: 39 (turns 40 on June 24)
Club Team: Sky Blue FC
The last remaining member of the winning 1999 Women’s World Cup team still playing, Rampone has two daughters, Rylie, 9, and Reece, 5, the youngest of whom she was three months pregnant with when she won the 2009 Women’s Professional Soccer league championship as player-coach of Sky Blue FC. Rampone has the second-most appearances in international soccer (306), behind only former U.S. teammate Kristine Lilly. She began her soccer career as forward in college at Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she is the school’s all-time leading scorer and also played basketball, but switched to defender.
Easiest Player To Identify Without A Uniform Number: Megan Rapinoe
Age: 29 (turns 30 on July 5)
Club Team: Seattle Reign
Known for her speed and attacking runs, Rapinoe — who wears No. 15 — can easily be spotted by her shock of short, blond hair on the wide left side of midfield. She scored two goals against Canada in a 4-3 victory in the semifinals at the London 2012 Olympic Games and has 29 in her career. Rapinoe was also on the front end of the long cross that Wambach headed into the goal to tie Brazil in extra time in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals, considered one of the most clutch and dramatic goals in team history. Rapinoe suffered a bruised thigh last week before the team’s final official friendly match against South Korea and did not play.
Brian Trusdell has covered four FIFA World Cups and six Olympic Games during his more than 30 years as a sportswriter, mostly with the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.