Various members of FIFA, as well as representatives from 24 countries are in Ottawa, Canada today for the 2015 Women's World Cup draw. There, they will find out the groups and potential knockout round match-ups for the teams that hope to be crowned world champions next summer in women's soccer's ultimate tournament.
For the United States, things are a little bit easier because they have been seeded for the tournament. FIFA announced the six seeded teams yesterday, using the FIFA World Rankings and geographical considerations to come to their decision. The U.S., which is ranked No. 1 in the world, were an easy choice. They will be joined by Canada (hosts), Brazil, France, Germany and Japan in Pot 1.
The biggest question heading into the draw is who will end up in the same group as Sweden and England. The Swedes, led by former U.S. manager Pia Sundhage, are ranked No. 5 in the world and only missed out on being seeded because of geographical reasons, while England are No. 7. They will end up in the same groups as two seeded teams, making for tough matches in the group stage. More importantly, it raises the possibility that a seeded team doesn't finish first in the group, which would set them up for a tougher road through the knockout stages.
For the U.S., it is all about avoiding Sweden and England, even if squaring off with Sundhage would be fun. Aside from that, they will be focused on who they are likely to play in the knockout stages assuming the favorites win their groups and advance. Ideally, they will end up on the opposite side of the draw from Germany and Japan, making it so they only have to play one to claim the World Cup, and leaving that for the final, if the Americans get that far.
The draw isn't make or break for the women like it is for the men. The USWNT are too good for that and women's soccer isn't deep enough to have dangerous teams from top to bottom, but things sure can be easier or harder and the Americans will be hoping the draw gives them as easy a path as possible.