The 2019 World Cup is HERE let’s goooooooooo.
Unlike the men’s World Cup, Team USA is actually a factor in women’s soccer which makes this tournament that much more worth watching.
But this tournament isn’t about the countries. No one cares about what’s happening in France. No, what makes the World Cup great is that it’s the home for the best players on the planet to enter the forum and do battle.
Here are the 17 players that are MUST-WATCH in the 2019 World Cup:
1. Lindsey Horan, USA
Out of all the women on Team USA, Lindsey Horan might be the least known which is strange considering she is objectively the best player on the team. She signed with PSG, one of the biggest clubs in the world, at age 18.
Horan is the reigning National Women’s Soccer League MVP. If America is going to win the World Cup, it’ll be because Lindsey Horan went off and carried the country on her back.
2. Saki Kumagai, Japan
Saki Kumagai is the best defender on this team. She’s also the best midfielder. And the best scorer. And the best passer. And the overall leader.
The problem is, she can’t occupy all 11 positions soooo, SEEE YAAA Japan.
3. Christine Sinclair, Canada
I feel like I’ve been watching Christine Sinclair play soccer my entire life. Sinclair has 181 international goals. She’s 3 goals shy of having the most international goals ALL TIME.
If this is a list of MUST-WATCH players then you need to drop everything and watch Sinclair as she could make history in the 2019 World Cup.
4. Lucy Bronze, England
Bronze plays for my favorite squad, Lyon, so I’m more than familiar with her game. She is one of the best defenders in the tournament. She can seemingly sprint for 90 minutes straight without showing a hint of fatigue and *checks notes* defense wins championships.
5. Kim Little, Scotland
Scotland probablyyyy shouldn’t be in the 2019 World Cup, you know, with them being bad at soccer and all but the benefit of this country narrowly qualifying is that we get to FINALLY see Kim Little ball out on the biggest stage in the world.
She’d probably be the best international player to ever play in the NWSL if it weren’t for a woman who I will later gush about on this list but there’s a difference between seeing her bust her ass for Seattle and what’s she about to do in what might be her only chance to play for her country in a World Cup.
6. Eugenie Le Sommer, France
I can’t explain Le Sommer’s game. Instead, here’s a story from the 2018 SheBelieves Cup when Team USA coach, Jill Ellis, sat the girl charged with defending Le Sommer BEFORE halftime because Le Sommer was just living in that girl’s brain:
Murmurs rolled through Red Bull Arena when Casey Short emerged by the fourth official with less than five minutes until the halftime break. Short wound up entering the match for Taylor Smith who trotted off the pitch to what was at best a neutral reception from Jill Ellis before taking her seat on the bench.
“I probably should have made the substitution 10 minutes earlier,” a blunt Ellis said after the match. “I think what I saw at that point was a player who was struggling to deal with the situation. They put Le Sommer out wide, they floated her inside and created an overload. It was a lot. She also looked a little bit fatigued.”
Coaches make tactical changes like that all the time, but this was not consistent with how Ellis has coached the team in the past. If anything, Ellis has a reputation for riding it out for too long when things are not going according to plan, particularly in a tournament like SheBelieves Cup where she is allotted six sub cards. For her to have said as much publicly is an extraordinary statement from a coach who likes to hold her cards close to the vest.
“Coach Ellis, why didn’t you wait til halftime to make adjustments”
“My player was fucking SHOOK, that’s why”
7. Lieke Martens, Netherlands
Lieke Martens was the 2017 FIFA player of the year. I may not be a soccer ‘expert’ but here is how every single tournament in every single sport typically works: the team with the best player wins. Netherlands in 4.
8. Julie Ertz, USA
We should probably take a moment to discuss the woman you are about to see in every commercial for the next month. How do I explain her game appropriately? Julie Ertz is like a running back rushing the ball up the middle pinball bouncing off of defenders and stiff arming people to the ground.
The Marshawn Lynch of women’s soccer.
Also real quick, for ESPN and everyone who has ignored the World Cup and won’t bring it up until USA is in the semifinals in 3 weeks, you’re allowed to talk about Julie Ertz’s game without mentioning who she’s married to. In fact, that’s the only fucking way you should be talking about her.
9. Wang Shuang, China
China is sneaky one of the better teams in the world as they seem to always be in the quarterfinals year in, year out. Anddd of course they just have a brand new phenom, Wang Shuang, to drop into the middle of this team to ensure another quarterfinal.
Shuang has been playing professional soccer since age 12. She’s 24. Half of her life has been playing this game at the highest level. This World Cup is light work for homegirl.
10. Tobin Heath, USA
I’m going to say something controversial here, America has a lot of great players. THERE, I said it. It’s out there now.
Tobin Heath shines in the box. It’s like having a great red zone offense when you’re only 20 yards from the endzone and the defense gets tight. Give Heath the ball in the box and she’s at the very least getting the ball on net.
11. Dzsenifer Marozsán, Germany
I don’t want to be the guy who sits here and talks about a player’s ‘touches’ but shit, Marozsan has the best touches in the sport. It’s like the ball just belongs at her feet. No one has better control of a soccer ball than she does.
You are about to see a lotttt of Marozsan directing traffic from midfield and creating plays where plays don’t even exist.
12. Fran Kirby, England
The only real criticism of Fran Kirby’s game I can find is that she lacks consistency. Good news: she only needs to be great for a month and England walks away with the 2019 World Cup. And by the way, what 25 year old is consistent? Zero (0).
13. Hedvig Lindahl, Sweden
I feel like I should probably mention at least one goalkeeper on this list and I also feel like I should acknowledge that Sweden is also in this tournament or whatever.
We shall pay homage to the 36 year old who is entering her 5th World Cup for Sweden. *salutes* Thank you for your service.
14. Sam Kerr, Australia
Hm, how do I describe Sam Kerr without being over the top about how fucking incredible she is? Kerr is the NWSL all-time leading scorer with 61 goals in 103 career games. She’s 25.
She has scored 23 goals in her last 26 appearances for the Australian national team and she is the sole reason that Australia is even being mentioned as a potential winner of this tournament.
She is a bucket getter. Automatic ball in the back on the net. She is the queen of goal scoring. I’m sweating writing this. Please believe and understand how fucking good Sam Kerr is.
PFA Women’s Footballer of the Year. Back-to-back W-League Golden Boot. Back-to-back NSWL Golden Boot. Oh who can forget her winning the most illustrious award of them all, the 2018 ESPY.
15. Wendie Renard, France
There is something to be said about being the best player for the national team that’s hosting the World Cup. The entire nation of France is going to stop what they’re doing for the next month to watch Renard lead their squad to the cup.
She’s a 6-foot-2 defensive stone wall who can put the ball in the back of the net. Watch for her to dominant smaller competition, especially in set pieces and penalty kicks peeling off the line.
There is nothing she doesn’t do well.
16. Marta, Brazil
Marta is the greatest player in the history of women’s soccer. She is a 6-time player of the year. In the 2007 World Cup she won the Golden Ball and Golden Shoe.
Sure, she’s 33-years old and has obviously lost a step but this could be the last time we see Marta compete on the biggest stage in the world and chances are when it’s all over, her name will be at the top of the scoring list.
I love you, Marta.
17. Ada Hegerberg, Norway
Ada Hegerberg is the best soccer player in the world and unfortunately, she’s sitting out the World Cup. The reason she’s on a list for MUST-WATCH at the World Cup in spite of the fact she won’t be competing in it is because the events that caused her to take a stand and refuse to play deserves all of our attention.
I love you as well, Ada Hegerberg.