The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is almost upon us and the North Carolina Courage will have seven players in France this summer. Debinha is set to start for Brazil, goalkeeper Stephanie Labbé has been called up by Canada, Abby Erceg will likely be starting for New Zealand and Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis and Jessica McDonald will all be representing the United States Women’s National Team.
Abby Erceg - New Zealand - Group E
Abby Erceg has a tall task ahead of her as she looks to help New Zealand qualify out of the group stages of the World Cup for the first time in their history. New Zealand are in Group E alongside Canada, Cameroon and the Netherlands. Canada and the Netherlands are expected to be the top two teams in Group E but if New Zealand put a performance similar to the one recently against England, they will give themselves every chance of making it to the Round of 16.
Erceg has shown during her two seasons with the Courage that she is a leader in the backline but also has the positional awareness to match almost every striker in the world. The National Women’s Soccer League has prepared Erceg to face the likes of Christine Sinclair with Canada and that will be useful for New Zealand when they start their campaign.
New Zealand vs Netherlands - June 11th, 2019
Canada vs New Zealand - June 15th, 2019
Cameroon vs New Zealand - June 20th, 2019
Debinha - Brazil - Group C
Debinha will be participating at the World Cup with Brazil in Group C. Brazil have to navigate games against Australia, Italy and Jamaica first to qualify for the knock out stages. It will not be easy for Debinha and her teammates to progress out of the group stages as they come into the tournament having lost nine straight games. Their play has been so poor that recently star player and captain Marta expressed that this particular Brazil side was the worst team she had ever played in.
Marta, coming off a thigh injury, is still a question mark for starting vs #JAM on Sunday. She told Sweden's Expressen that this Brazil team (with 9 straight losses) is the worst she has been on. (Also, the Fox set in front of the Eiffel Tower is kind of insane.) https://t.co/9MGMVxvI6b— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) June 6, 2019
That sort of statement exemplifies just how badly Brazil have played over the last few months, and they now face an uphill task against the likes of Australia and Jamaica in a few days time. Debinha has been wonderful to watch with the Courage since she first joined the team and she will need to replicate that kind of form with her country to avoid a shocking result at the World Cup for Brazil.
Brazil vs Jamaica - June 9th, 2019
Australia vs Brazil - June 13th, 2019
Italy vs Brazil - June 18th, 2019
Stephanie Labbé - Canada - Group E
Stephanie Labbé has her sights set on starting for her country in Group E. Depending on how head coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller wants to play, Labbé may get to see some game time. Most people expect Sabrina D’Angelo to start for Canada but Labbé has shown recently that she could be a key piece for Canada should Heiner-Møller pick her to start. Labbé has been in great form with the Courage this season and the team has missed her since she reported with Canada for international duty. Her play recently should be enough to earn her the start, as her four appearances this season in the NWSL have seen her keep two clean sheets.
Labbé will be up against club teammate Abby Erceg on June 15 and will want to come out on top of that dual should she start. Until then, Canada have to navigate a game against Cameroon on June 10 and most Courage fans will be hoping that Labbé not only starts, but that Canada win that game as well.
Canada vs Cameroon - June 10th, 2019
Canada vs New Zealand - June 15th, 2019
Netherlands vs Canada - June 20th, 2019
Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Jessica McDonald - USA - Group F
Abby Dahlkemper, Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis and Jessica McDonald may have the easier path to the Round of 16 than their club teammates as the USWNT are expected to top Group F along with perennial rivals Sweden. Group F also includes Chile and Thailand but Sweden should be the USWNT’s only threat on paper. Dahlkemper and Dunn have been penciled in to start almost every game the U.S. will play as part of the backline while Mewis may end up being a surprise starter, although most think she will be on the bench for most games. McDonald is the least likely of the four to see much game time with the USWNT due to the depth the U.S. have up top, so Courage fans should look forward to seeing Dahlkemper and Dunn try to contain their opponents and help the USWNT retain their title.
All of the above players have made a strong case to start for the USWNT due to their overall play with the Courage. Each player has been instrumental in helping the Courage reach consecutive NWSL Championship finals and help them win the NWSL Shield on more than one occasion. This will be the first World Cup for all of these players but if they can replicate their club form onto a stage as impressive as the World Cup, the USWNT could be world champions once again when all is said and done.
USA vs Thailand - June 11th, 2019
USA vs Chile - June 16th, 2019
Sweden vs USA - June 20th, 2019