United States' Carli Lloyd waves as she stands by the World Cup trophy, during the women's soccer World Cup France 2019 draw, in Boulogne-Billancourt, outside Paris, Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

US draws Sweden again for 2019 Women's World Cup

December 08, 2018 - 2:35 pm

PARIS (AP) — The defending champion United States is again placed in a group with Sweden for the Women's World Cup next summer in France.

Host France will open the tournament on June 7 with a match against South Korea in Paris.

The draw for soccer's premier tournament was held Saturday at a gala event in Paris amid a backdrop of unrest in the country. There were widespread clashes between police and demonstrators protesting high taxes under French President Emmanuel Macron.

The United States defeated Japan 5-2 — highlighted by Carli Lloyd's hat trick — in Canada at the last World Cup, in 2015. The U.S. has played in every World Cup since the competition started in 1991, winning the event in 1991, 1999 and 2015.

The top-ranked Americans are grouped with Sweden for the fifth straight World Cup. Also in Group F are Thailand and Chile, which is making its World Cup debut. The United States will open the tournament against Thailand in Reims on June 11.

Twenty-four teams were placed in six groups at the draw. The pots for the draw were based on world ranking. France, as host, was atop the first pot, followed by the top-ranked U.S., Germany, England, Canada and Australia. The updated FIFA rankings were released on Friday.

France, ranked No. 3 in the world, has gone 7-1-2 this year, with the loss coming against England in the SheBelieves Cup in the United States in March. This will be the fourth World Cup for Les Bleues.

The Americans went undefeated in play this year, finishing 18-0-2, including a 2-0 victory over Canada in the final of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. The team's overall unbeaten streak is at 28 games, dating to a 1-0 loss to Australia in the 2017 Tournament of Nations.

Lloyd, who attended the draw event, was asked if she was confident the United States can defend its title.

"Pretty confident I must say," she said from the stage. "This squad is as talented as can be, we've got the depth and a great coaching staff in place."

England, ranked No. 4 in the world, drew a difficult group that includes No. 8 Japan. England was the surprise third-place finisher in Canada and has been on the rise in the past several years. The squad is coached by Phil Neville, former Manchester United and England defender who played in three European Championships.

The draw took place inside La Seine Musicale, a dome-shaped concert hall perched over the river Seine on the outskirts of Paris — and far enough away from the center not to be affected by the vehement and widespread anti-government demonstrations taking place.

The groups that will play next year in France:

Group A: France, South Korea, Norway, Nigeria.

Group B: Germany, China, Spain, South Africa.

Group C: Australia, Italy, Brazil, Jamaica.

Group D: England, Scotland, Argentina, Japan.

Group E: Canada, Cameroon, New Zealand, Netherlands.

Group F: United States, Thailand, Chile, Sweden.


Peterson reported from Portland, Oregon.


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