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Does U.S. Women's World Cup team have age on its side?

The United States Abby Wambach, center, is congratulated

The United States Abby Wambach, center, is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal against Ireland during the first half of an exhibition match Sunday, May 10, 2015, in San Jose, Calif. Credit: AP / Tony Avelar

By the end of this month or by July 5 at the latest, the world will know if the U.S. women are a team for the ages or a team for the aged.

As the oldest of 24 sides competing in the Women's World Cup in Canada -- the team averages 29.5 years of age -- the Americans have many skeptics on whether they can win their third championship and break a 16-year drought.

In some respects, the stars have aligned for the USA, which will play on its home continent.

"Being close to Canada, it's going to be even better, because game times will be live and in prime time," defender Christie Rampone said. "People will be able to watch it instead of getting up at the crack of dawn and seeing a game. The timing of this event is definitely going to be a big factor for us."

Many of the team's stars have been around the international block and then some. Coach Jill Ellis selected nine players of at least 30 years old. That includes goalkeeper Hope Solo (33), defenders Rampone (40 on June 24), Becky Sauerbrunn (30), Ali Krieger (30), Lori Chalupny (31), midfielders Shannon Boxx (38 on June 29), Heather O'Reilly (30), Carli Lloyd (32) and striker Abby Wambach (35).

"It's a wonderful blend of veteran and young players," O'Reilly said. "That experience does say a lot for big tournaments like this. A lot of players have been there before in these high octane games. I'm confident in the spread of age and experience."

This generation of Americans is hopeful it can etch its names in the history books alongside the 1991 and 1999 teams that featured standouts Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers, among others.

They came close in Germany in 2011, losing out to Japan in the final on penalty kicks. That is a motivating factor to Rampone, the lone player from the 1999 team.

"You never forget," she said of 2011. "That's the one piece you always have in the back of your mind of what happened and how it happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. You remember your feelings after the loss and you can build on that and grow stronger so that you can put your best foot forward in those games."

The team is optimistic it can take the victory lap around B.C. Place in Vancouver on July 5.

"It's a combination of factors. We have good balance and experience and youth," Ellis said. "We're fairly deep on our roster. To win requires a little bit of luck. All those things can give us a shot at winning the World Cup."

The Americans are in the difficult Group D. The USA kicks off the competition with two games in Winnipeg -- vs. Australia Monday and Sweden Friday before playing Nigeria in its last group match in Vancouver June 16.

"Certainly if you roll over and die, it's the group of death," Ellis said. "We have no intention of doing it. It's a very competitive group. It's a demanding group."

These are key factors for the Americans to win:

Solo must continue to show she has put her personal problems behind her and show why she is considered to be the best women's keeper.

Alex Morgan, who hasn't played a game since April 11 (knee injury) must return to the lineup.

Wambach, the leading international goal-scorer (182), must be used wisely.

"Abby is very important to our success in Canada on and off the field," Ellis said. "She brings so much experience, leadership, goal-scoring presence. We have an understanding -- she is prepared for any role. She is incredibly professional. Whether she's starting or coming off the bench, I know she'll be ready."

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