EDMONTON, Alberta — Canada Coach John Herdman pretty much summed up the prevailing sentiment when he was asked what he was looking forward to most about the Women’s World Cup.

“Winning,” Herdman said.

Join the crowd, Coach.

Canada, ranked No. 8 in the world, opens women’s soccer’s premier tournament with a group-stage match against No. 16 China on Saturday in Edmonton, one of the six Canadian cities hosting the monthlong event. The final is July 5 in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Twenty-four teams are competing this year, up from 16 that took part in the 2011 tournament in Germany. Japan won that one on penalty kicks in a memorable final against the United States.

The Americans, ranked No. 2, are among the favorites, along with top-ranked Germany and third-ranked France. The U.S. women are in Group D, the so-called “Group of Death” that includes upstart Australia, Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, and perennial African champion Nigeria.

Group D opens with a match between the United States and Australia in Winnipeg on Monday, but probably the most anticipated match of the group stage is the showdown between the U.S. and Sweden next Friday. It pits Sundhage against former assistant Jill Ellis, who took over the U.S. team last spring.

The players, many of whom played for Sundhage, were keeping perspective on the match.

“It’s just another game for us, just another in the group round,” said U.S. defender Meghan Klingenberg. “We’re not looking at is as the ‘Group of Death’ or the easiest group, or whatever it is. We’re just looking at it as a game we have to win because we want to be on the podium at the end of this tournament.”

Some things to watch as the tournament gets underway:

THE SHOW MUST GO ON: The women’s game and the World Cup haven’t really been touched much by the scandal rocking FIFA, the sport’s governing body.

The only telltale sign of its impact came when FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke withdrew from the opening news conference in Vancouver. He was replaced by Tatjana Haenni, FIFA’s deputy director of the competitions division and head of women’s soccer.

At the news conference, the Canadian Soccer Association president, Victor Montagliani, was asked if there were any improprieties associated with Canada’s bid for the event – a reflection of the corruption allegations facing FIFA as a whole.

The question was amusing; Canada was the only country that bid. Zimbabwe withdrew.

“I actually think that it’s a positive thing that the first tournament after whatever happened last week is the Women’s World Cup. Because women’s football is a very pure form of football. And I think women’s football can shine some light in the dark clouds that are hanging over the game,” Montagliani said.

ASSESSING THE UNITED STATES: There have been mixed reviews of the U.S. in matches leading to the World Cup, starting with a surprising loss to France in Lorient in February and ending with a listless 0-0 draw against South Korea in New Jersey last Saturday.

The players say they are unconcerned, trusting a process. “Everybody, don’t freak out,” forward Abby Wambach said. “We’re going to be fine.”

TURF WARS: The event is the first senior World Cup, for men or women, on artificial turf.

That hasn’t gone over well with many players, who believe artificial turf exacerbates injuries and changes how the ball moves.

Wambach led a group of players who filed a legal challenge last fall, alleging gender discrimination because the men’s World Cup is always on real grass. The players withdrew their action earlier this year when it became clear it wouldn’t be considered before the event.

All six stadiums and 18 practice fields in Canada are outfitted with fake turf.

SAYING GOODBYE: Several stars have announced this will be their final World Cup, including Homare Sawa of Japan, who is playing in her sixth – a record among women and men.

German goalkeeper Nadine Angerer also said she’s retiring after this year. And Wambach likely will leave, although she may stay for the 2016 Olympics.

“We have stars like Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux and Megan Rapinoe who are going to continue on for many years on this team. And hopefully I’m going to be riding out off into the sunset with a World Cup championship,” Wambach said.