Homare Sawa, right, and Japan are seeking a second consecutive World Cup title. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press via AP)

The author is a forward for the NWSL’s Washington Spirit. A Connecticut native who starred at Penn State, she has also played for clubs in Finland, Brazil, Sweden, Denmark and Canada. She is editor of Our Game Magazine, co-founder of a Connecticut-based youth club called girlsCAN and blogs regularly on her personal website. This being a World Cup year, we’ve asked her to submit periodic columns. Her fourth installment:

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Eight teams left.

We said goodbye to Norway, Brazil, Switzerland, Cameroon, Colombia, South Korea, Netherlands and Sweden.

We said congratulations to Australia, United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, England and Canada.

Some talking points:

The Young and the Aus-ome

Australia has only recently solidified their place at the international level. Some of this is due to an always improving domestic league (the W-League), and some of it due to putting resources into young players.

Australian starters Emily van Egmond, Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord started their national team careers when they were about 15 or 16 years old. Now in their early twenties, they are staples on the squad with long careers ahead of them.

With the college system in the United States being what it is, 15- and 16-year-olds are playing with and against players their own age and that’s about it.

The youngest player on the U.S. team is 22-year-old Morgan Brian.

Australia’s roster has 13 players 23 or younger. The USWNT has two: Brian and Julie Johnston (23).

It’s possible Australia is ahead of us for the next World Cup in 2019. Does that matter right now? No. But it’s something to start thinking about.

Throw Me a Bonus

China has reportedly awarded the national team a $160,000 bonus for reaching the quarterfinals.

Most of the players on the national team are making less than $500 a month, so this reward is a big one. Divided among 23 players, each will receive almost $7,000, which is more than many NWSL players make in a season. But that’s neither here nor there. Good job, China. It’s a great thing you have done.

Dear England. Sorry. No.

In order to qualify for the Olympics, UEFA uses the World Cup instead of a whole new qualification round that would take too long in the short amount of time between the World Cup and Summer Games. By advancing to the quarterfinals, Germany, France and England qualified for Rio. Unfortunately, England won’t be participating because English athletes compete for Great Britain in the Olympics and the FA couldn’t secure the support of the other home nations to form a collective squad.

Consequently, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands and Switzerland will participate in a playoff for the last European slot. The Olympics is a big deal for women’s soccer. It’s much different for the men, who use the tournament as an under-23 competition. The fact England won’t be participating is disappointing for the players. I think something should be done. Where is the Queen when you need her?

Predictions and Such

I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but I tend to predict the future. Similar to Paul the Octopus, I know things before you know them.

And if I’m wrong, it’s because someone changed the future without telling me. Not because I’m wrong.

With all that nonsense said, I’m going to tell you what will happen if each team wins the World Cup:

China will become the richest women’s team in the world.

Germany will join their male counterparts and the U-20 women in being the best in the world.

France will win, no one will headbutt anyone and everyone goes home to find Nutella is not allowed in their country anymore, so actually they lose.

England. I don’t know, man, 1966 was just so long ago. I know it’s not the men, but it’s just so long ago.

Japan will win and Homare Sawa (six World Cups) will be named president of the world.

The United States will win and Brandi Chastain will take her shirt off.

Canada will give the trophy to another country because it feels bad for winning.

Australia will win and Lisa De Vanna will run off into the sunset with the trophy, and no one will ever see her again.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Fox Sports analyst Tony DiCicco, my former coach.

We were running the beep test and had just finished the intro part.

“This is when the test really starts,” Tony yelled.

Apparently I took that as a sign to stop running. I couldn’t hang.

This is when the World Cup really starts. Now we’ll see a clear separation between the winners and the ones who can’t hang.