How about the rest of the field?
Brazil arrives as the South American champion. Japan, China and South Korea have long histories of achievement in Asia — though only the Japanese have lifted the World Cup — and will be closer to home than usual. Australia, powered by the high-scoring forward Sam Kerr, recently signaled its intent to challenge with a victory over Spain in a warm-up match.
Other teams arrive with big stars but longer odds — Denmark (Pernille Harder), Norway (Ada Hegerberg) and Jamaica (Bunny Shaw) — and seven countries are just thrilled, for now, to be coming at all: Haiti, Morocco, the Philippines, Portugal, Ireland, Vietnam and Zambia all have qualified for their first World Cup.
Who is the U.S. playing?
The U.S. is the defending champion. Its schedule in the group stage includes a familiar face (the Netherlands) and two question marks (Vietnam and Portugal). The top two teams will advance to the round of 16.
The Americans’ three games in the group stage:
Vietnam at Auckland, July 22, 1 p.m. (Friday night in New York.)
Netherlands at Wellington, July 27, 1 p.m. (Wednesday night in New York)
Portugal at Auckland, Aug. 1, 7 p.m. (Monday overnight in New York).
How the equal pay fight going?
That depends. The United States women, after years of tense negotiations, public battles, stinging insults and court filings, emerged with an equal pay deal that has made them one of the best-paid national teams — men or women — in the world.
Other countries, even big ones, have not made similar progress. While many have heralded new contracts guaranteeing equal rates of pay for matches, women’s soccer teams still lag far behind their men’s counterparts when it comes to prize money, staffing and other issues.
Canada is currently at the leading edge of the equal pay fight: Its players briefly went on strike this month before a game against the United States, and have vowed to press their battle for better treatment, and better pay, through future actions and public protests.