Americans land in tough group in Women's World Cup draw

Sat Dec 6, 2014 3:02pm EST
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By Steve Keating

GATINEAU, Quebec (Reuters) - Concerns over artificial turf were replaced by worries over opponents as number one ranked Olympic champions the United States found themselves in the 'Group of Death' at the 2015 Women's World Cup draw on Saturday.

The Americans landed in Group D alongside fifth ranked Sweden, who conceded just one goal in 10 qualifying matches, 10th ranked Australia and African champions Nigeria.

"It's probably the toughest group there is but I think that's historically been the path the USA has taken and we're obviously going to embrace it," U.S. coach Jill Ellis told reporters.

"At the end of the day you've got to play good teams to win it and at some point you're going to match up with quality opponents and this happens to be right in the first match."

The U.S. opens play against Australia at Winnipeg on June 8.

The draw, for a few hours at least, put the focus was back on the sport and next year's tournament rather than a roiling dispute between FIFA and a group of top international players who have filed a lawsuit against world soccer's governing body and the Canadian Soccer Association claiming discrimination over being forced to play the tournament on artificial turf.

Canada, ranked number eight, top Group A and will open the tournament on June 6 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium against 14th ranked China.

Other teams in Group A include New Zealand and the Netherlands.   Continued...

Goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart (L) of the U.S. celebrates with teammate Whitney Engen (14) after their team defeated Canada in their friendly women's soccer match in Toronto, June 2, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch