2023 Women’s World Cup draw: live updates

Recognition…Shane Wenzlick/Reuters

The United States women’s soccer team meets the Netherlands, Vietnam and an as-yet-unknown playoff winner at next year’s Women’s World Cup – a lucky draw for the Americans, even though it included the Netherlands, the side they beat in the final won their last world championship title in 2019.

The Americans met their first-round opponents in Saturday’s tournament draw and will go into action as two-time defending champions in Australia and New Zealand – the first co-hosts in World Cup history.

But they will arrive amid tectonic shifts in women’s football, including an unsatisfactory bronze medal at the last Olympics; a generational change in their list; and a surge of investment and interest that has fueled the rise of new rivals like England and Spain and revived old ones like Germany, Canada and France.

“We have a winning mentality and if we don’t win it hurts – it hurts us all,” US coach Vlatko Andonovski had said earlier in the month after the Americans suffered setbacks in high-profile games against England and Spain for the first Times for more than five years of consecutive defeats.

He and his players have long acknowledged that the world is closing the gap with US hegemony in women’s football – Megan Rapinoe essentially admitted that the gap no longer existed before the game against England – and that the task of being at the top staying, only going to get harder They were chasing an unprecedented third straight World Cup title next year. But draws always bring hope and the mood on Saturday was good, at least temporarily.

“Today is a good day,” said US midfielder Lindsey Horan. “It is exciting.” She said the opening game against Vietnam “gives us a great opportunity to get into the tournament.”

Some of the United States’ biggest rivals will have liked their draw as well: Sweden, the world’s second-placed team, was drawn into a group with South Africa, Italy and Argentina, and Germany, world No. 3 and runners-up. competed at the European Championships last summer will face Morocco, Colombia and South Korea.

England, newly crowned European champions, meet a European opponent (Denmark), a faded former power (China) and, like the United States, a play-off winner whose identity will not be confirmed until February. For England it will be either Senegal, Haiti or Chile.

New Zealand meet former world champions Norway in the tournament’s opening match next July, and co-hosts Australia will begin their search against newcomers Ireland before meetings against World Cup mainstays Nigeria and Canada.

But the expanded field means so many new faces – up to a quarter of the field could play in their first World Cup – that the favorites should have little trouble in the group stage. However, the stakes are still high, especially for a group like the one that includes the United States and the Netherlands, two likely title contenders. That will make early success crucial for positioning, as a stumble in the group stage could mean the toughest opponents come down much earlier in the knockout rounds.

But even when former England international Ian Wright declared his country favorites and said his players had “a target on their backs” as European champions, Andonovski knew his side would, as usual, be the target for everyone else.

“For a team that has always done well in the past,” said Andonovski, “the pressure will always be there.”

The 2023 World Cup will be the first since FIFA, the world governing body of football, expanded the field to 32 teams. That led to a draw populated by familiar faces and first-time entrants: high-level contenders and former champions like Sweden, Germany, Spain, France and the Netherlands from Europe; regional powers like Brazil, Japan and Nigeria; and a handful of debutantes – Zambia, Morocco, Ireland, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Recognition…Shane Wenzlick/Reuters

The American? They qualified in July with the help of a mix of old and new: veterans like Alex Morgan, Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan and Becky Sauerbrunn, but also newer faces like Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman and Naomi Girma.

Andonovski’s team remains a mix of past and present: Rapinoe will most likely make the roster next summer, but another longtime mainstay, Carli Lloyd, spent this weekend helping with the draw without anxiously awaiting the results.

For Andonovski, the hard work still lies ahead. By next summer, he hopes his reshuffle of his roster, his new mix of experience and youth, his months of notoriously rigorous scouting will give the United States their best shot at the first three-peat at the World Cup. He wasn’t always so sure.

“I have to say, if you ask me if we’re ready to go into a World Cup and play the World Cup tomorrow, we’re probably not ready for that,” Andonovski told reporters after the Americans qualified in July. “But will we be done in a year? Absolutely.”

Others are unsure: The United States lost to England and Spain this month, their first straight defeats in five years, and next month they face another formidable challenge with two friendlies against runners-up Germany.

England, currently the best team in Europe and undefeated in their last 24 games, and Canada, who beat the United States en route to the gold medal at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, will wait. But so will the Germans and the Dutch and the Swedes and the Spanish and the rest.

The World Cup will open on July 20th with home matches between New Zealand and Australia and will end with the final on August 20th at the Olympic Stadium in Sydney.