If the US women's national team is going to win next summer's World Cup in Canada, it's going to have to escape the Group of Death first.
The US women, as the No. 1 team in the world, were drawn into Group D with No. 5 Sweden, No. 10 Australia and Nigeria. None of the other five groups have three teams currently ranked in the top ten. It's also the fifth time out of seven World Cups that the US has been drawn in a group with Sweden.
Even more intriguing, the Swedes are now coached by Pia Sundhage, who guided the US to gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. Sweden is the only team in the field who has beaten the US in the past two years.
"I'm kind of speechless," forward Alex Morgan said on Fox Sports 1 following the announcement. "Did I call it? I said Sweden. I knew it."
Several other members of the US squad shared their excitement at facing the toughest group in the entire field.
Bring it on.
— Sydney Leroux (@sydneyleroux) December 6, 2014
And from keeper Hope Solo:
Game. On. http://t.co/HNtg82UErR pic.twitter.com/bAzIINHJfb— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) December 6, 2014
The US hasn't won the World Cup since 1999, but it reached the finals four years ago in Germany and ultimatly lost on penalty kicks to Japan. The tournament runs June 6th through July 5th and the US kicks off against Australia on June 8th in Winnipeg.