The U.S. Women's Soccer team might be the tournament's best — and it's also its oldest
(FOX 2) - The target on the U.S. Women's National Team might be the biggest yet. It might also feel like the heaviest, too.
After a heartbreaking defeat in 2011, the United States avenged their Women's World Cup final loss by defeating defending champions Japan 5-2 in 2015. They're now ranked No. 1 in the world.
A SportsLine analysis has given the team 2-1 odds to repeat their successes four years ago. The team, led by Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, is even sauntering into the tournament with momentum at their back, after defeating Mexico in a friendly match earlier this month 3-0.
After drawing a favorable bracket that includes ninth-ranked Sweden, 34th-ranked Thailand and 39th-ranked Chile, there's little question that "favorite" status the team carries is no overestimation.
There's one more statistic to keep in mind, however: The United States is the oldest team in terms of player age in the World Cup this year as well.
Among the 24 teams, the United States boasts the oldest average age at 28.5 years. Using data from each roster on Fox Sports' website, we computed the average age for each team participating in the tournament. And while the team does host some remarkable youth in Mallory Pugh (who just turned old enough to drink alcohol in April), all three of their co-captains are above that average age.
The debate of experience over youth isn't a new one. A version of it is showcased across all stretches of most professional sports. From old-guard Tom Brady's victory over young-blood Jared Goff in the 2019 Superbowl, to Jordan Spieth's dominance on the golf course in 2015, when he won the Masters at 21 years old.
If any team enters France with the overarching umbrella of experience, it's the United States. This is the second trip for several players including goalies Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher, and the third trip for all three captains.
Keep in mind these tournaments are four years apart. That's more than a decade of playing king (or queen) of the hill, and excelling at it for the majority of those years.
While the FIFA Women's World Cup has been around for less than three decades, it's already turned out several players that have been etched into sports lore. From Brazilian footballer Formiga and Japan's Homare Sawa, who both participated in six FIFA Women's World Cups, to Abby Wambach, whose notable header goals created some of the most gripping sports television ever.
The United States team isn't the oldest by much, however. Behind them by a few decimal points is Brazil at, 28.2. Their common foe in the tournament, Japan, is the second-youngest team in the tournament at an average age of 24 years old, ahead of only Jamaica, which is barely older than 23 years on average.
While we won't know if the team's age will hinder or enhance its playing style, there's no doubt the experience garnered through the years will showcase itself on the field - bringing with it the same excitement all Americans are used to when the world's gaze turns toward its best soccer players.