The U.S. Women's soccer team looks to defend its 2015 World Cup title in France this coming June.
The defending champs are coming into the tournament as the number one ranked team in the world, stacked with talent that includes striker Alex Morgan, central midfielder Linsdey Horan, and forward Megan Rapinoe.
Aly Wagner, Fox Sports lead game analyst for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, said it’s tough to pick out a favorite with the quality of the pool of teams in this year’s tournament being one the most competitive of its kind.
“We as Americans definitely believe they can get the job done,” she said on “Mornings with Maria” Friday. “I think the host nation France is the other contender that everyone really thinks it’s going to challenge.”
England, who placed third in the 2015 World Cup, is on the upswing with former Manchester United player Phil Neville coaching the national team.
“They put a lot of resources into their women’s games,” Wagner said. “They are one of, I think the teams that’s going to challenge. Outside of that, Germany and Japan have a shot as well.”
A larger conversation is brewing in the backdrop of the World Cup and in women’s sports surrounding pay inequities compared to the men. Members of the American national team filed a lawsuit against U.S. soccer accusing the organization of gender discrimination.
The lawsuit in California district court claims that U.S. soccer “has a policy and practice of discriminating” by paying the women less than men's team.
"Eventually, you just have to take a stand,” U.S. soccer star Morgan told Time Magazine, who is featured on the June cover. “How come we've had to fight the whole time, year after year?”
Wagner, a former U.S. soccer player, said the timing of the lawsuit puts the women’s team in a position of leverage going into the negotiating table by winning the World Cup.
“Now revenue goes through the roof,” she said. “Now you look at two cycles with the women and say, by the way, they are bringing that money.”
Wagner points out that suggesting the women’s team is not going to generate as much money as the men is not an argument because U.S. soccer is a nonprofit entity.
“Their number one goal is to grow the game,” she said.