World Cup Kickoff


By: Jeff Yoder

Good Morning,

Welcome to another day in summer sports paradise. The MLB’s second half is in full swing, the Open Championship tees off tomorrow, and the Tour de France races to the finish line this weekend. But today? Well, today welcomes the kickoff to a month-long event we’ll all be watching.

It’s the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kickoff, and it’s just hours away.

Letter Rip!


The World Cup Kickoff!

Photo: Alex Grimm / Getty Images

The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Preview: Groups, Schedules, History, Favorites & More

Here. We. Go. A full month of soccer is about to kick off down under. A place we often associate with crocodiles, kangaroos, the wildlife of the outback and beautiful scenery suddenly takes the sports spotlight for the next month. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup begins tonight (tomorrow morning) in Australia and New Zealand. Nine cities will host games over the coming 30 days as 32 countries go boot-to-boot for the title of world champion. We have another fun time-zone challenge that we’ll attempt to maneuver with grace. Be prepared to watch tape delays or sacrifice sleep. Here’s everything you need to know before the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, starting with the nine host cities we’ll get a chance to see throughout the tournament.

World Cup Host Cities

Sydney (AUS)

Melbourne (AUS)

Brisbane (AUS)

Adelaide (AUS)

Perth (AUS)

Auckland (NZ)

Hamilton (NZ)

Wellington (NZ)

Dunedin (NZ)

Format: The first two weeks of the World Cup will put the 32 qualifying teams in eight groups of four for the Group Stage. Each team is guaranteed three group-stage matches in the first two weeks before the top two squads from each group advance to the Knockout Rounds in the final two weeks for a single-elimination bracket.

World Cup Groups

Group A: New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Switzerland

Group B: Australia, Canada, Nigeria, Ireland

Group C: Japan, Spain, Costa Rica, Zambia

Group D: China, England, Denmark, Haiti

Group E: United States, Netherlands, Portugal, Vietnam

Group F: Brazil, France, Jamaica, Panama

Group G: Argentina, Italy, Sweden, South Africa

Group H: Germany, South Korea, Colombia, Morocco

World Cup Knockout Round Schedule

Round of 16: August 5-8

Quarterfinals: August 11-12

Semifinals: August 15-16

Runner-Up: August 19

Finals: August 20

USWNT Rivalries: The United States and England are the major favorites in 2023, and there’s no love lost between the two rivals. If you remember four years ago, the USWNT knocked out England in the semifinals (2-1) when Alex Morgan broke the tie with the famous “sipping tea” celebration. It’s safe to say England fans won’t forget that one. The U.S. went on to beat the Netherlands in the finale (2-0), and that rematch will be on display in Match 2 of the group stage.

Group Stage Schedule for USWNT (Dates to Know)

USWNT vs. Vietnam (Fri. July 21, 9:00 pm ET)

USWNT vs. Netherlands (Wed. July 26, 9:00 pm ET)

USWNT vs. Portugal (Tues. Aug. 1, 3:00 am ET)

The Favorites: As we stated, the USWNT are the favorites, but Europe’s elite — England, Germany, Spain, France, Sweden and Netherlands — formulate the biggest challengers against a potential three-peat. Brazil, Canada and Australia are also competitive, as well as Japan, China and South Korea.

World Cup Favorites (Top-10)

United States (+225), England (+375), Germany (+650), Spain (+700), France (+800), Australia (+1200), Sweden (+1400), Netherlands (+1800), Canada (+2500), Brazil (+2500) Full List of Odds

Past, Present & Future: The United States is aiming for its third consecutive World Cup crown and fifth overall. The USWNT has been the most successful nation in women’s soccer, claiming four of the eight editions of the women’s World Cup since it began in 1991. This year’s squad still has iconic veterans like Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Julie Ertz, but a youth movement should pave the way for fans to catch a glimpse of the star players in the next generation.

Women’s World Cup Winners (Runner-Up)

2019: USA (Netherlands)

2015: USA (Japan)

2011: Japan (USA)

2007: Germany (Brazil)

2003: Germany (Sweden)

1999: USA (China)

1995: Norway (Germany)

1991: USA (Norway)

Get ready for kickoff! Due to the time-zone challenge, we’ll provide World Cup match schedules 24 hours ahead of each set of games so you can know which nights to stay up late or record the match. The host kickoff matches begin tonight (tomorrow morning) with Australia and New Zealand opening the competition. Here we go!

Upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup Schedule

New Zealand vs. Norway (Thurs. 3:00 am ET)

Australia vs. Ireland (Thurs. 6:00 am ET)

World Cup Storylines

ESPN: 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team-by-Team Preview

USA Today: USWNT’s Most Diverse Team Yet Enters World Cup Stronger Than Ever

CBS News: USWNT Soccer Players to Watch at the 2023 World Cup

SI: Australia & New Zealand Are Eager to Show a More Inclusive Version of Themselves at 2023 World Cup



MLB 2nd-Half Hot Starts

Photo: Mike Carlson / Getty Images

After the All-Star Break, Which Teams Are Peaking & Which Teams Are Stumbling?

The mid-week edition gives us a chance to step back and look at the latest changes in baseball. MLB action picked back up last Friday, and a few teams are firing on all cylinders coming out of the gate. We have our eyes on ten teams in particular who are either hot or cold after the All-Star break. We’ll have one more set of MLB power rankings before the Aug. 1 trade deadline. In this week’s rankings, 25 of the 30 MLB teams are moving up or down. Only five teams stayed in the same spot from our last re-rank two weeks ago. So who’s hot?

Who’s Hot? (5) 

Rangers, Giants, Dodgers, Phillies & Cardinals

The three hottest teams coming out of the break are not the top three teams when we entered All-Star weekend. The Rangers have won five straight, including two against the once-unstoppable Rays. The Giants extended their win streak to seven with a doubleheader win against the Reds yesterday while the Dodgers still hold a 1.5-game lead in the NL West. The Phillies and Cardinals are also winners of four straight, making things interesting in the NL wild card outlook.

Also Warm: Orioles, Red Sox, Twins & Blue Jays

Who’s Cold? (5) 

Rays, Braves, Yankees, Reds & Marlins

The top two teams in the league went cold this week. The Rays and Braves are both losers of three straight, and they’re both .500 or below so far in July. That’s quite a turn of events from their respective outlook in June. The Yankees (L3) and Marlins (L5) are really collapsing while the once-hot Reds (L6) have hit a snag, too. There’s little panic for all five teams on our cold list as they’re all still in playoff positions. 

Also Chilly: Diamondbacks, Angels, Pirates & White Sox

MLB Power Rankings

1. Rangers (57-39) | ↑3 

2. Braves (61-32) | ↓1 

3. Orioles (57-37) | —

4. Rays (60-38) | ↓2 

5. Dodgers (55-39) | ↑2 

6. Giants (54-41) | ↑3 

7. Astros (52-43) | ↑4

8. Blue Jays (53-42) | ↑4

9. Diamondbacks (53-42) | ↓1 

10. Yankees (50-46) | ↓4 

Teams 11-20

11. Phillies (52-42) | ↑4 

12. Marlins (53-44) | ↓3 

13. Brewers (52-43) | ↑1

14. Red Sox (51-45) | ↑2

15. Twins (48-47) | ↑1

16. Reds (50-46) | ↓3 

17. Angels (48-48) | ↓7

18. Guardians (47-48) | ↑1

19. Mariners (47-46) | ↑2

20. Padres (45-50) | ↓2

Teams 21-30

21. Cubs (44-50) | ↓2

22. Mets (44-50) | ↑2

23. Cardinals (42-53) | ↑3 

24. Tigers (42-52) | —

25. White Sox (40-56) | — 

26. Pirates (41-54) | ↓5 

27. Rockies (37-58) | ↑1

28. Nationals 38-57) | ↓1

29. Royals (28-68) | —

30. Athletics (26-71) | —

Read More

ESPN: MLB Execs Discuss What Each Bubble Team Should Do at Trade Deadline

MLB: Historic Night for Offense Sees MLB Record for Most Games With 10 Runs by Each Team




Wilmer Flores (2 HRs, 5 RBIs) Puts Giants’ Win Streak at 7

Seiya Suzuki (4 Hits, 1 HR, 6 RBIs) Powers Cubs’ 17-Run Blowout

Nolan Arenado Hits Walk-Off 3-Run HR for Cardinals

Christian Walker (2 HRs) Helps D-Backs Win Slugfest With Braves (16-13)

Dodgers Hand Orioles Second Straight Loss at Camden (10-3)

 Tour de France

Leader Jonas Vingegaard Wins Stage 16 Time Trial by 98 Seconds

*Increases Lead Over 2nd-Place Tadej Pogacar


Mercury Snap 6-Game Losing Streak Against Sun (72-66)

Napheesa Collier Tags Career-High 35, Lynx Lose to Dream (82-73)



 Fantasy Football QBs Worth the Wait

Planning on waiting for a quarterback? If you decide to wait at QB, here are four options capable of delivering massive fantasy totals at an affordable price. (Yahoo! Sports)

 MLB Managers on the Hot Seat

During the 2022 Major League Baseball season, firing managers were all the rage. In 2023, it has been nothing but crickets. Is that about to change? (Bleacher Report)

 The 151st Open Championship Preview

Royal Liverpool, also known as Hoylake to many, returns to the host role for this week’s Open Championship. Get ready for golf’s third major of 2023. (NBC Sports)





The Must-Watch List

FIFA Women’s World Cup

New Zealand vs. Norway (Thurs. 3:00 am ET)

Australia vs. Ireland (Thurs. 6:00 am ET)

MLS All-Star Game

MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal (8:30 pm ET)

Dodgers at Orioles (1:05 pm ET)

Rays at Rangers (2:05 pm ET)

Yankees at Angels (7:07 pm ET)

Giants at Reds (7:10 pm ET)

Diamondbacks at Braves (7:20 pm ET)

Tour de France

Stage 17 (6:05 am ET)

Download The Sportsletter’s Must-Watch Calendar



Question of the Day

Do you think the U.S. Women’s National Team will win a third straight World Cup? 

(click to vote)