U.S. big favorites to win 4th World Cup

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You may remember some of the names and the faces. But nothing lasts forever, especially in soccer.

So it begs the question: Can the United States women’s national team repeat as World Cup champions?

The Americans are the heavy favorites for the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup, which begins its month-long march to the championship Friday in France. Sportsbooks around the country will be booking the games and showing the Women’s World Cup on their big screens. And while the handle won’t match the men’s tournament, those who follow soccer closely, particularly the women’s game, will no doubt look to exploit soft numbers on the betting boards.

“I think we’ll write a lot more tickets than we did four years ago,” said John Murray, who helped set the tournament numbers at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “There’s more people who follow women’s soccer now and even though the time zones won’t be as friendly as they were four years ago when it was in Canada, we should get good crowds, especially on the weekends and particularly when the U.S. plays.”

And while the majority of the 24 teams are long shots to reach the July 7 final, the USA, which has captured three World Cup titles since FIFA began holding the tournament in 1991, are not a lock but any means this time around.

Yes, Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe will be anchoring coach Jill Stein’s squad, which won the 2015 Cup in Canada when it defeated Japan 5-2 in the final. But there are a lot of new faces, particularly in goal where Alyssa Naeher takes over for Hope Solo, one of the stars of the last World Cup run.

The Americans, who are in Group F with Chile, Thailand and Sweden, are going to face some quality sides along the way. The host French are talented, Germany always fields a strong team, England has ramped up its efforts to be more competitive and Japan will no doubt be seeking to avenge its abysmal performance in the 2015 title game loss.

“I definitely think France can win this tournament,” Murray said. “They’re playing at home, which is big. And I don’t think the USA is that much better, even though the odds don’t reflect that.”

The Westgate opened the U.S. women at 5-2 to win the World Cup and quickly dropped them after someone bet $10,000 on the Americans. Currently, the odds on the U.S. are 7-4. France is 7-2.

“We have a lot of exposure on the U.S.,” Murray said. “We’ll get hurt if they win. We also have a lot of exposure on Australia, which is 20-1.”

The U.S. plays its first game Tuesday vs. Thailand at Reims. The matchup is so lopsided there’s no number on the contest straight up. If you like Team USA, you have to lay 4.5 goals at -120. The total on the game is 5 and the over is -130 with the under at +110.

Much of the wagering will be over-the-counter traditional pre-match bets. But there figures to be a lot of in-game wagering via mobile apps. Soccer is a sport that lends itself to in-game betting and Murray expects to see an influx of that kind of wager during the entire month, from Friday until the July 7 final in Paris.

“We didn’t even have phone betting four years ago so I anticipate we’ll have a lot of betting generate from the app,” he said. “We’re also going to offer live betting in-game on all the matches so that should increase the betting handle.”

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About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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