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U.S. kicks off WWC campaign against Australia

The United States begins its quest for a third Women's World Cup title on Monday when the team opens its tournament against Australia in Group D play.

The Americans were drawn into arguably the toughest group in the competition with Australia, Sweden and Nigeria, so a good start on Monday is crucial.

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Despite being one of the tournament favorites, the U.S. will not have an easy game in group play, and it begins against an athletic Australia side led by striker Lisa De Vanna.

The Aussies top scoring threat, De Vanna will be the focus of the U.S. defense in this game, but the Americans boast a strong and experienced back line led by Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger.

Forward Alex Morgan has been battling a knee injury and her minutes could be limited in the early part of the tournament, while veteran Abby Wambach has become a weapon off the bench in the second half, leaving younger players like Christen Press, Sydney Leroux and Morgan Brian to pick up some of the scoring slack.

Strong midfield play from Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd will support the U.S. attack, while goalkeeper Hope Solo is one of the best in the world at her position.

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Head coach Jill Ellis took over this team from Tom Sermanni in May 2014 and she has helped to mold this team into one of the deepest Americans teams in recent memory.

This will be the first World Cup for Ellis as a head coach, but she has been involved with the national team since 2011 as Director of Development of USA women's soccer.

The Americans will be taking part in their seventh Women's World Cup, and although they are one of just two teams to have captured multiple titles, the last came in 1999.

Four years ago, the U.S. lost a heartbreaking final to Japan on penalty kicks, and midfielder Tobin Heath is eager to erase that bitter memory this year.

"For me, 2011 was just a heartbreak," said Heath. "The whole motivation now is for that not to happen again and to win a World Cup. For every player in the group, they're believing that [Canada 2015] is our World Cup. This is our World Cup to win and that's how we're preparing."

[SportsNetwork.com]

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