all scores

Vlatko Andonovski: USWNT’s World Cup group ‘seems the toughest’

Vlatko Andonovski and the USWNT lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2017. (Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

U.S. women’s national team coach Vlatko Andonovski isn’t overlooking the team’s World Cup group stage opponents.

Following the draw, which features the Netherlands, the USWNT, Vietnam and a playoff winner in Group E, Andonovski addressed the team’s outlook at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand next summer.

“I think that even though it seems the toughest, we’re excited because we feel it’s the type of matches that will help us stay sharp in the group stage and when we hopefully advance in the tournament,” he said.

Others didn’t perceive the USWNT’s group to be as difficult as other draws. Group B features Australia and Canada, while Group F has Jamaica, France and Brazil.

“The USWNT doing a jig as very winnable Grp E and not much travel (all group games in NZ) + NED in coaching change/transition,” wrote former USWNT star Julie Foudy. “Also avoid England, Germany, France, Canada & Brazil until final if get there. Contrast that w/ 2019 and having to literally conquer all of Europe to win.”

Current USWNT players also expressed their excitement about the draw.

“There’s nothing like finding out your World Cup opponents,” said defender Becky Sauerbrunn. “We also know every team earned their way into this event, so we don’t take anyone lightly or anything for granted.”

Star forward Alex Morgan said that knowing the USWNT’s opponents “adds even more motivation” and brings things into focus as the team continues its preparations for the tournament next summer.

“We know this is going to be an incredibly competitive tournament,” said defender Naomi Girma, a candidate to make her first World Cup team next summer. “I couldn’t be more excited for that challenge and will just keep working to hopefully put myself in a position to be on that final roster.”