Countdown to the 2019 Women’s World CupKristine Lilly
Kristine Lilly is a legendary U.S. Soccer World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist and Steward’s Community Wellness Ambassador.
Did you know we are only 16 days away from the opening game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup? This year’s host country is France, and the tournament kicks off in Paris with France taking on Korea.
Twenty-four teams will play in the World Cup. These women have been training their whole lives for this opportunity to play on the biggest stage in soccer. For some players, it will be their first time; while others have played on this turf many times. No matter if it is their first, second, third, fourth, or even fifth, it is still special and an honor to represent their country.
I can still recall many of my first World Cup games. One specifically was in the 2003 World Cup. That year China was to host, but due to the SARS epidemic that hit the country, the U.S. hosted. Team USA played its first game in Washington D.C. against Sweden, which was a country we always seemed to have in our group.
At this opening game, I scored the first goal ‒ a goal that happens to be one of my favorite goals of all time. The setup for the goal began when I received a ball at the top of the box from Mia Hamm. The moment the ball left my foot, I knew it was going in. As the ball knuckled past the keeper, my heart exploded. Scoring the opening goal in the opening game of a World Cup was exhilarating, and I felt a huge sense of relief. Before any game you play, there are so many nerves going through your mind and body. To stick that ball in the back of the net just made me feel great and gave my team a lift. Team USA ended up winning this opening game 3-0.
The teams gearing up for the World Cup this summer will experience these nerves as well as sense relief, pride, honor, and joy. There isn’t any more time for thinking or training needed ‒ now it’s time to play and execute.
From June 7 to July 7, you can watch the “best of the best” in women’s soccer. Every game is televised, and I encourage you to tune in to view these wonderful and amazing women in action. The USA will be playing the group play on June 11 vs. Thailand, June 16 vs. Chile and June 20 vs. Sweden. It’s time to get out your red, white and blue and cheer on our women to bring home the trophy for the fourth time. Go USA!
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