USWNT defender Crystal Dunn on avoiding France: ‘We want to play freaking France.’

It’s an age-old question in the FIFA World Cup: should you play for a better draw in the knockout stage with your final group game, when you’re already assured of advancing to the Round of 16.

It’s popped up for the United States Women’s National Team this week as rival Sweden awaits to conclude group play Thursday.

Should Team USA fail to garner a point, the United States ends group play as the runner-up. What would that mean? Well, a potential quarterfinal matchup with tournament host France, one of the pretournament favorites to win the Women’s World Cup, would be off the table.

U.S. defender Crystal Dunn, who sprinted forward in bunches against overmatched Thailand earlier in the tournament, doesn’t feel her team is sidestepping anyone, according to ESPN.

“We want to freaking play France,” Dunn told ESPN. “Fingers crossed obviously. But at the end of the day it’s, like, mind-boggling that people would think we would actually want to lose a game going into the knockout rounds. We want to continue those winning vibes.”

Team USA gets its chance to Thursday against Sweden., which is scheduled for 3 p.m. on FOX.

Sports reporter Jason has covered high school, college and pro sports since joining the Bradenton Herald in 2010. He’s won Florida Press Club awards for sports feature and column writing. He currently writes college and pro sports stories for the McClatchy East Region real-time team.