Women's World Cup

Nations to root for in Women's World Cup with USWNT out

Sweden eliminated the USWNT via a penalty shootout in the Round of 16

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Japan
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WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 05: Players of Japan pose for a team photo prior to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Round of 16 match between Japan and Norway at Wellington Regional Stadium on August 05, 2023 in Wellington / Te Whanganui-a-Tar, New Zealand. (Photo by Maja Hitij – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

There will be a new winner in the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup.

Following the U.S. women's national team's shock exit on Sunday morning against Sweden in the Round of 16, the hopes of the USWNT three-peating are dashed.

That spells good news for the rest of the nations still alive in the tournament. The last time a country other than the U.S. won the Women's World Cup was in 2011 when Japan topped the USWNT in a penalty shootout.

So, if you're a USWNT fan looking for a new team to support for the remainder of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand, look no further than these five:

Japan

It might seem counterintuitive to start this list with a rival of the U.S. and a nation that has lifted the trophy before, but good football should be rewarded. And Japan's play has been exemplary. Consistency and variety have been two themes in Futoshi Ikeda's squad. They have won four games in dominant fashion and have done so in different ways, whether it's hitting the opposition on the counter or making them suffer on the front foot. That goes a long way in short tournaments such as this when game plans can be eradicated in any single moment.

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Japan's only Women's World Cup win was in 2011, and it is the only other nation left in 2023 that has won the tournament (Germany, Norway). The country is in good shape to add another to its overall tally as it awaits a quarterfinals match vs. Sweden.

FIFA ranking: No. 11

Colombia

Colombia has been one of the pleasant surprises in the tournament after topping a Group H that most had No. 2-ranked Germany breezing through. Instead, Las Chicas Superpoderosas (The Powerpuff Girls) upset Germany en route to a first-place finish led in part by young left winger Linda Caicedo. The 18-year-old Real Madrid star has lit up the tournament with exquisite 1-on-1 moves and finishing, illustrating why so many clubs pursued her. A win vs. Jamaica in the Round of 16 would make it the furthest the nation has ever reached in a Women's World Cup, so let's see how Caicedo and Co. perform here on out.

FIFA ranking: No. 25

The 18-year-old is making her World Cup debut on the heels of a battle with ovarian cancer.

Morocco

Out of eight debutants in 2023, only Morocco advanced to the Round of 16. Morocco lost to Germany 6-0 in the opener but recovered with consecutive wins against South Korea and Colombia. If you're searching for an underdog story, it won't get any better than Morocco. The squad is fearless and strong mentally, given how the players showed up in the two games following a blowout loss. Next is France, a tough opponent to overcome, but never say never in this sport.

FIFA ranking: No. 72

England

Like Japan, you're probably wondering why you'd root for a USWNT rival nation to win. But, stylistically, the closest thing to the U.S. you'll get in this bracket is ironically their big historic rival. England, led by Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman, have progressed tremendously since third- and fourth-place finishes in the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, respectively. Despite their accumulation of injuries in 2023, the Three Lionesses deploy ball players all over the pitch. They can swap their 4-3-3 look for a more passive or aggressive shape if needed and have solid depth to stay afloat. England plays Nigeria next in the Round of 16 and are on the more favorable side of the bracket.

FIFA ranking: No. 4

Australia

A host nation has won the Women's World Cup only once: the U.S. in 1999, when it beat China in a penalty shootout at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Can Australia be next? It topped an underperforming Group B that comprised Nigeria, Canada and Ireland, though the good news is that Australia did so without star and captain Sam Kerr. Kerr, one of the best in women's soccer, has been out with an injury sustained just before the tournament started, but she's looking to boost her team past Denmark in the Round of 16. If you're into hometown hero stories, the Matildas are the one.

FIFA ranking: No. 10

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