The 2023 Women’s World Cup begins July 20 in host nations Australia and New Zealand, and the following month will offer soccer fans the opportunity to watch some of the sport’s best represent their countries at the highest possible level.
The United States is favorited to win their third tournament in a row, but other nations like England, Spain and Germany are also considered some of the challengers for the crown. If the USWNT can manage to win the World Cup, it will be their fifth overall title since the tournament debuted in 1991.
Those who follow soccer casually probably know some of the United States’ players — like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz — but there are plenty of other talented players domestically and across the world who deserve your attention over the next month. Here are three in particular you should keep an eye on.
Alyssa Thompson, forward, United States
The defending champions have several players with World Cup experience. Alyssa Thompson is not one of them, but this should be the first appearance of many for the teenage phenom.
At 18, Thompson is the youngest player on the U.S. women’s national team’s 23-woman roster. Originally a Stanford commit after starring for years at Harvard-Westlake High in Los Angeles, Thompson ultimately backed out of her decision to join the Cardinal and instead decided to go pro. She was then selected as the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NWSL draft by Angel City FC — the first high school player to go No. 1 overall in league history — and she’s tallied three goals and an assist for her club team in 13 appearances this season.
Thompson had one goal and one assist in three matches at the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup, where the U.S. didn’t make it out of the group stage, but she has the talent to become a staple with the senior team starting with this tournament. While she might not start games at first, don’t be surprised if Thompson makes her mark for the United States at some point.
Alexia Putellas, midfielder, Spain
Widely considered one of the top players in the world, Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas is making her return to international tournament competition after missing the better part of the last year with a torn ACL.
Putellas was out for the majority of the club season for Barcelona, but the 2021 Ballon d’Or winner and two-time world player of the year returned to the field in April and should be a full go for this year’s World Cup. She leads a Spanish team that currently has the third-highest odds to win the tournament.
Competing in her third World Cup with the senior Spanish team, Putellas will pull the strings from the midfield and try to set up attacking opportunities for forwards like Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo. She’s also not bad in front of net either — she’s totaled 27 goals in more than 100 caps (career appearances) with the national team.
Asisat Oshoala, forward, Nigeria
One of the most prolific goal-scorers in this year’s tournament, Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala is used to scoring on the biggest stages. She has notched goals in both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and at 28 years old she’s now ready to challenge for a golden boot.
Oshoala has been named Africa’s Women’s Footballer of the Year five times and totaled 21 goals for Spanish-league champion Barcelona during the club season in 2022-23. This was the third league title Oshoala won with Barcelona, on top of winning the Champions League twice.
Despite playing in every World Cup since 1991, Nigeria has never made it past the quarterfinal round of the tournament, something Oshoala will hope to change this year. The team is part of a tough group with Australia, Canada and Ireland, but there’s no telling what could happen if Oshoala finds the back of the net a few times.