Women’s World Cup holders United States can be expected to begin their defence with a comfortable victory over Thailand in their opening match of France 2019 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims on Tuesday (3pm ET, live on Fox).
United States have always been one of the strongest teams in women’s football. They have won the World Cup on three occasions and have never failed to at least make the final four. They and hosts France are joint favorites with the sportsbooks catering for American players this time around.
There is, though, an undercurrent of caution surrounding coverage of the national team coming into this tournament. Six wins on the bounce in the build-up and a record of just one defeat in their last 38 internationals paint a pretty picture. Underlying performances tell a slightly different story.
USWNT undoubtedly have one of the strongest attacks in women’s football, probably the very best. It is necessary to go back almost two years to find the last time they failed to score (a 0-1 defeat to Australia in late July of 2017). In that time, they have averaged over three goals (3.21) per match. Even against teams ranked inside the top 10 by FIFA, they have averaged 2.25 goals per match.
The standard starting forward line of Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe (each with over 150 caps) combines pace, strength and ingenuity. If they can’t get the job done, the US still have Christen Press and Mallory Pugh waiting on the sidelines.
The issue comes in how the rest of the team is balanced behind them. Jill Ellis’ side have some talented players in midfield, with Lindsey Horan a potential breakout star of this tournament, but good opponents can find space centrally to move forward dangerously in transition. It is something that has been evident throughout this cycle and has not yet been fixed.
In truth, it isn’t a problem against most teams, as the USWNT’s record over the last couple of years attests. They have enough firepower in attack and good individuals elsewhere in the team to overcome the large majority of opponents. It is also notable that they have conceded two or more times in each of their last four matches against top-eight teams: in a 1-3 defeat to France, 2-2 draws with England and Japan, and a 5-3 win over Australia.
Thailand will clearly provide much less of a threat. This is only their second World Cup appearance, one that they secured by finishing fourth at the Asian Cup last year. Their debut in Canada four years ago saw them eliminated at the group stage. A 3-2 win over the Ivory Coast was insufficient to see them through after 0-4 defeats against Norway and Germany.
Their squad for this year’s tournament is almost entirely drawn from domestic football in the country, although there are a couple of US-born and based players on their roster in the form of goalkeeper Tiffany Sornpao (Kennesaw State Owls) and forward Suchawadee Nildhamrong (California Golden Bears).
Thailand’s hopes of going further this time around will likely rest on their final group stage match against Chile. It is difficult to see them picking up a positive result against either United States or Sweden. If they can keep the score down in those two matches and then thrash Chile – probably their equal in terms of quality – they might just have a chance of sneaking through.
The degree to which Thailand are underdogs on Tuesday is made clear by the fact that you’re not going to get much better than -3300 odds on United States winning the match. Thailand have lost each of their five internationals, four of them by three goals or more. Even on the bookies’ spread, you have to go as high as USA -5 to break the odds-on barrier.
Our Betting Preview’s United States Women vs. Thailand Women Predictions & Picks Verdict
- It may be worth just watching USA win this match but if you want a wager then taking USWNT -5 goals @ -105 with Bovada will give you something to cheer on.
- Another option would be on the first goalscorer market, something none of the US bookmakers have published betting lines on yet, at the time of writing this preview. Tobin Heath has scored in seven of her last 10 matches for club and country. She has opened the scoring in each of the USWNT’s last two internationals – wins over New Zealand (5-0) and Mexico (3-0) – and three of their last six. Backing her to set the US on their way to victory again on Tuesday seems a solid play and ought to be available at around +400 (4/1) if or when the odds become available.