GROUP D CAPSULES
World ranking: 2.
Key players: GK Hope Solo, MF Carli Lloyd, F Abby Wambach.
Outlook: The Americans, champions in 1991 and 1999, are the only country to reach the semifinals of every World Cup. And this figures to be the last chance for a group that includes the most prolific international goal-scorer, male or female, in history in Abby Wambach and arguably the world’s best goalkeeper in Hope Solo. As a concession to Wambach’s age — she turned 35 Tuesday — and Canada’s artificial turf, she probably will be a part-time player here. The U.S. offense could sputter if Alex Morgan’s knee injury slows her, but look for Christen Press to step up and become the revelation of this World Cup for the Americans.
World ranking: 5.
Key players: F Sofia Jakobsson, F Lotta Schelin, MF Caroline Seger.
Outlook: Sweden impressed by beating Germany in the Algarve Cup, where Jakobsson led all scorers with four goals. But despite the presence of Jakobsson and Schelin, who had 12 goals in 10 games in UEFA qualifying, Sweden’s biggest asset is on the sidelines with coach Pia Sundhage. She led the U.S. to two Olympic titles and a runner-up finish in the 2011 World Cup before returning to her native country.
World ranking: 10.
Key players: D Clare Polkinghorne, F Samantha Kerr, F Lisa De Vanna.
Outlook: Australia is making a push to join the soccer elite, having advanced to the quarterfinals of the past two World Cups. But after being drawn into the tournament’s toughest group, its best hope of advancing beyond group play probably is as one of the four best third-place teams. Coach Alen Stajcic’s final roster did not include two notable players: all-time leading scorer Kate Gill and veteran goalkeeper Brianna Davey.
World ranking: 33.
Key players: F Asisat Oshoala, D Desire Oparanozie, MF/F Evelyn Nwabuoku.
Outlook: A nine-time African champion, Nigeria is the only country from that continent to qualify for all seven women’s World Cups. But the Super Falcons have advanced beyond group play only once and, given the group they have been drawn into, it will be a challenge to do that again in Canada. This will be the final World Cup for four-time African player of the year Perpetua Nkwocha, who is 38 and has begun passing the baton to a pair of 20-year-olds: Oshoala and Oparanozie.
LOS ANGELES TIMES