Meet The Brightest Stars Of The Women's World Cup

Lotta Schelin

Photo: twikl

The 2011 Women’s World Cup started group play just a few short days ago, and the contenders are already separating themselves from the pretenders.Brazil, Germany, Sweden, and the United States are amongst the most likely teams to end up going home with the coveted championship.

But just who exactly are the players leading this teams to potential victory?

It has been a long time since Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy were the biggest names in women’s soccer so it’s high time that a whole new crop of superstars to become the most identifiable players in the sport.

This list features the five biggest established athletes in women’s soccer and a few more players that are surely soon to reach great heights.

Marta is the most famous women's soccer player on the planet

Country Represented: Brazil

Regular Team: Western New York Flash

Bio: Like many Brazilian soccer great, Marta is only known by one name. She is also sometimes referred to as 'Pele's Cousin,' and has won the last five FIFA World Player Of The Year awards.

Birgit Prinz is amongst the world's best strikers

Country Represented: Germany

Regular Team: 1. FFC Frankfurt

Bio: Prior to Marta's amazing run of five consecutive FIFA Player Of The Year awards, Prinz earned three straight herself in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Her intensely strong kick has led to her to become the Women's World Cup all-time leading scorer with 14 goals.

Kelly Smith may already be the greatest female soccer player in England's history

Country Represented: England

Regular Team: Boston Breakers

Bio: Smith can do everything well. She can score goals and make clean and crisp passes. Her 43 goals in international play are more than any other female English footballer in history.

Alexandra Popp is one big reason why Germany is one of the favourites

Country Represented: Germany

Regular Team: FCR 2001 Duisburg

Bio: Alexandra Popp was so good at soccer as a youth that she was the only female at Germany's prestigious soccer academy Gesamtschule Berger Feld. The 20-year-old Popp has only made 13 appearances with the German national team, but she has nine career goals already.

Yoreli Rincón is quite young but also quite talented

Country Represented: Colombia

Regular Team: Bogotá

Bio: Rincón is set to play at Indiana University as a freshman this upcoming season, but she's going to have to stop scoring goals at the international level first. She has previously represented Colombia at the U-17 and U-20 levels, and she hasn't missed a beat this year playing for the national team for the first time.

Abby Wambach is an American soccer hero

Country Represented: United States

Regular Team: Washington Freedom

Bio: Wambach scored the gold medal winning goal in the 2004 Olympics, and has been the brightest star in American soccer ever since. She has scored the third most international goals in U.S. women's soccer history with 118 of them.

Lotta Schelin is a powerful and efficient scorer

Country Represented: Sweden

Regular Team: Lyon

Bio: Schelin uses her size, speed, and power to give the Swedes a consistent offensive threat. She has 22 international goals in 57 appearances.

Cristiane is the Scottie Pippen to Marta's Jordan

Country Represented: Brazil

Regular Team: Santos

Bio: Any good team needs at least two real scoring threats. Brazil has two of the world's best forwards working in tandem, one of them Marta, the other Cristane. The goal scoring machine has finished third in the FIFA Player Of The Year award race twice in her career.

Rosie White is New Zealand's young hope

Country Represented: New Zealand

Regular Team: Three Kings United

Bio: At 18 years old, Rosie White has serious potential to become New Zealand's all-time top scorer. Her first thirteen appearances with the national team did not net her a goal, but she has scored seven goals in her last 15. We should be seeing more from her soon.

Mana Iwabuchi is likely to be the next worldwide superstar in women's soccer

Country Represented: Japan

Regular Team: NTV Beleza

Bio: This 18-year-old Japanese forward may soon be a household name just like Marta. Coaches from other countries have hailed her as having the stuff of legends. In only four international appearances with Japan, she already has two goals.

Want to see some great female athletes in a different sport?

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