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Breaking down the Women’s World Cup Draw

We examine the potential road for the USWNT.

U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team Victory Parade Photo by Noam Galai/WireImage

The United States Women’s National Team will learn on Saturday who they will play in the group stage as the 2023 Women’s World Cup draw takes place in Auckland. With the tournament taking place in both Australia and New Zealand next summer, the USWNT will also learn in which country they will be playing their group stage matches.

This is the first time that 32 teams will compete in the Women’s World Cup, so the draw will split those teams into 8 groups of 4, with the groups lettered from A to H. Just like the Men’s World Cup, there will be 4 pots, each consisting of 8 teams. Pot 1 contains the hosts, Australia and New Zealand, who have also been pre-drawn into their groups for the tournament. New Zealand will be drawn into slot A1, while Australia will be drawn into slot B1.

The rest of the teams were placed into pots based on the October 2022 FIFA World Rankings. The USWNT, as the #1 team in the world, was drawn into Pot 1. Just like the Men’s World Cup, there are 3 spots that have yet to be determined. There will be a series of inter confederation playoffs in February, which will determine the final 3 spots in the Women’s World Cup. Those slots will be drawn on Saturday alongside the others, and the winner of that particular playoff will enter the World Cup in that particular slot.

The 4 pots for Saturday’s draw:

Pot 1 - Australia (Hosts), New Zealand (Hosts), USA, Sweden, Germany, England, France, Spain

Pot 2 - Canada, Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Italy, China, South Korea

Pot 3 - Denmark, Switzerland, Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, Costa Rica, Jamaica

Pot 4 - Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Morocco, Zambia, Playoff A Winner (Cameroon/Thailand/Portugal), Playoff B Winner (Senegal/Haiti/Chile), Playoff C Winner (Chinese Taipei/Paraguay/Papua New Guinea/Panama)

A World Cup group can contain up to 2 teams from UEFA, but teams from other confederations cannot be drawn into the same group. That also goes for potential Playoff winners, which means the Playoff B and Playoff C winner cannot be drawn into a group with the United States due to Haiti and Panama being in those particular playoffs.

For the USWNT, this also means no Death, Taxes, Sweden will take place. As the 2nd ranked team in the world, Sweden is in Pot 1 alongside the United States, and they can’t be drawn into the same group. You’d have to go back to the 2012 Olympics to see the last time the United States and Sweden were not drawn in the same group for a major tournament, and that was right after being in the same group during the 2011 Women’s World Cup. The teams can, of course, meet in the knockout stage.

For the USWNT, along with the rest of the teams in Pot 1, they will occupy the 1 slot of whichever group to which they are drawn. So, since New Zealand and Australia both occupy A1 and B1, there are only 6 possible slots that the USWNT can be drawn on Saturday: C1, D1, E1, F1, G1, or H1. Since the entirety of each group will stay in either Australia or New Zealand for the group stage, it means that fans won’t have to worry about hopping between countries for different group stage matches. They’ll know which country they can book flights for. And, since the top 2 teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage, we can determine each of the potential roads to a 5th World Cup title for the USWNT:

Potential USWNT World Cup Cities

So, looking at this chart, if the USWNT is drawn into the D1, F1, or H1 position, they will stay on the continent of Australia for the entirety of the World Cup. Slot C1 will see them stay in New Zealand until the Final or 3rd Place match, while slots E1 and G1 will see them stay in New Zealand for the group stage and then have to do some traveling between the two countries in the knockout stage.

And, here are the match locations for each slot in next year’s World Cup:

So, there will be a ton of intrigue for American fans as they watch the World Cup draw this Saturday. With Auckland being 17 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone, it will be an early one or late one for people to watch. Coverage for the draw begins at 2am on October 22nd (11:00pm PT on October 21st) on FS1 and Universe. Coverage will also take place on FIFA’s YouTube channel.

Hit the comments to let us know which group you prefer for the USWNT as we look ahead to 2023.