Three stars on their uniform, one for each conquest, distinguish the U.S. women's national soccer team as three-time FIFA World Cup champions.
Of the 24 participants in the 2019 FIFA World Cup in France, which begins Friday, the U.S. is the only team that boasts so many feats. But this year they'll have to face two strong lineups in group play: Sweden and Chile.
But first some background on Team USA. The U.S. triumphed in the inaugural edition of the Women's World Cup in 1991 and won the last tournament in 2015. From their three championships, their second one, in 1999, stands as the most memorable. That could be because of the impressive picture that 90,185 fans drew in the stands of the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.
Neither Michelle Akers' two goals in the 1991 final (2-1 victory against Norway), nor Carli Lloyd's three goals in the 2015 final (5-2 victory against Japan) marked the history of American soccer like that vibrant atmosphere in Pasadena did between June 19 and July 10, 1999.
Twenty years later, the legacy of Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett and the women's U.S. soccer team lives on. Nike has decided to reuse the design of the uniform the 1999 team used back then.
The 23 players of the U.S. women's soccer team, summoned by coach Jill Ellis, are once again the favorites to win the cup.
As part of Group F, the U.S. will face Thailand as well as Chile, which makes its World Cup debut. These couple of matches are supposed to be easy tasks for the U.S. However, the South American team has the potential of giving this group a surprise.
U.S. & World
During the first round, though, Sweden represents the U.S.' biggest threat.
A Sweden-U.S. rivalry, which will be rekindled in Le Havre on June 20, is the most repeated clash in the history of the World Cup. The teams will have faced off in five of eight World Cups with this year's match.
Both teams also faced-off in the quarterfinals of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, in 2016. That time, the triumph of the Nordic team, 3 to 4 in penalties, left the U.S. without an Olympic medal for the first time after four golds (1996, 2004, 2008 and 2012) and one silver medal (2000).
The U.S. record in the World Cup is equally admirable. The U.S. has been in the semifinals of all seven previous tournaments, in which it won three golds, one silver and three bronze medals.
As for the other teams in Group F, Thailand did not go through the group stage in 2015. It was their their first time in this elite tournament, which now welcomes Chile.
Sweden could be formidible in this tournament. They reached the semifinals in 1991 and in 2011 and lost to Germany in the 2003 final. But Sweden's soccer program is now going through a delicate moment. Its league is no longer among the top ones in Europe. The good old days of the Malmö, the Linkopings, the Rosengard and the Tyresö groups are long gone.
Follow all the action of the 2019 Women's FIFA World Cup starting June 7 on Telemundo.
FIFA Group F and Rankings
Chile (39), United States (1), Sweden (9) and Thailand (34)
Group F Calendar:
Chile vs Sweden (Rennes)
United States vs Thailand (Reims)
Sweden vs Thailand (Nice)
United States vs Chile (Paris)
Sweden vs United States (Le Havre)
Thailand vs Chile (Rennes)