Most American, and for that matter non-American, soccer fans will already be familiar with the names Wambach, Morgan and Leroux, so we’ve left them off this list, instead choosing to shine a light on some players you might not know. Among the 24 teams battling it out in the World Cup, eight more than previous tournaments, we’ve selected five players to keep an eye on in Canada.
1. The Hometown Hero – Christine Sinclair, 31 (Canada, Forward)
The last time we saw the Canadian captain on the world soccer stage, she and her teammates had swalloed a bitter pill at the 2012 Olympic semi-final, losing to the U.S. amid a controversial call – a game in which Sinclair scored all three Canadian goals. She is one of the game’s best players and is the third all-time international goal scorer (153) behind Americans Abby Wambach (182) and Mia Hamm (158). Something tells me she has high hopes of raising that World Cup trophy on her home turf.
2. The Trailblazer – Marta, 29 (Brazil, Forward)
Like her fellow countryman Neymar, Marta only needs one name. The Brazilian has been honored as the FIFA World Player of the Year five consecutive years, from 2006 to 2010, and she’s been called the female Pelé. She also likes performing on the World Cup stage, having netted 14 goals in three previous tournaments, a record she holds with Germany’s Birgit Prinz (retired). She’ll look to add to her total and squelch that 2011 World Cup heartbreak suffered at the hands (or should I say feet?) of the U.S.
3. The Veteran – Nadine Angerer, 36 (Germany, Goalkeeper)
Top-ranked Germany will look to send off their captain, Nadine Angerer, in style with a third World Cup championship as she is set to retire later this year. At the 2007 World Cup in China, Angerer has the distinct honor of not allowing a single goal the entire tournament – that’s six games, 540 minutes for those doing the math.
4. The Rookie – Vivianne Miedema, 18 (Netherlands, Forward)
At just 18, Vivianne Miedema has made quite an impression playing for the 12th ranked Dutch. In 23 caps for the national squad, Vivianne has scored an impressive 19 goals; 16 of those coming in European qualifying matches, pushing the Dutch into their first Women’s World Cup appearance.
5. The Dark Horse – Verónica Boquete, 28 (Spain, Midfielder)
Spain’s version of Carli Lloyd, Verónica Boquete will hope to make La Roja a threat in Group E. Last year she placed on the shortlist for the 2014 FIFA Women’s Player of the Year after helping lead German club FFC Frankfurt to the UEFA Women’s Champions League title. We also have Verónica to thank for the inclusion of women on the EA’s FIFA16 game – she started the Change.org petition in 2013, which attracted 20,000 signatures in the first 24 hours.
Check out the complete Women’s World Cup schedule across the Fox network here and come back to Paste for weekly coverage.