What does winning the group mean for the USWNT? Situations and scenarios heading into World Cup group-stage finale against Portugal

USWNT World Cup 2023 Lindsay HoranGetty

The United States women's national team's expectation is always to win its World Cup group. There's no ifs, buts or maybes with this. They're the most dominant force this competition has ever seen. Finishing atop the group is a minimum for a team that is among the favorites to win the World Cup every four years.

But, heading into their final group game of this tournament, there is a very real chance that the U.S. does not finish on top of Group E. And there's even a tiny, minuscule chance of a doomsday scenario that sees the two-time defending champions crash out altogether. It feels unfathomable, for sure, but stranger things have happened, right?

If they don't win the group, the USWNT will make some unfortunate history. They've finished top in seven of their eight World Cup appearances, with Sweden in 2011 the only team to finish ahead of the U.S. in a group stage. The U.S. famously went on to lose the World Cup final that summer, falling to Japan on penalty kicks.

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Still, the U.S. is still in a position where they very well can win this group, which also features Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal. They beat Vietnam 3-0 and then drew with the Netherlands in a scrappy 1-1 clash. That draw ensured it would all come down to the final day. Nothing will be decided until the final whistle blows in that match against Portugal.

So what's at stake for the USWNT? How will their road to the World Cup final be impacted by finishing first or second? And what if, somehow, Portugal pull off the unthinkable and hand the USWNT a historic defeat? GOAL takes a look at all of the scenarios and what they mean for the USWNT...