Rapinoe holds her champions' medal after winning 2023 SheBelieves Cup against Brazil.
CNN  — 

When you’ve won two consecutive Women’s World Cup trophies, there is an expectation that you can win a coveted third. This isn’t lost on Megan Rapinoe, who – having last led her squad to victory in 2019 – goes into this year’s tournament feeling the pressure of a “three-peat.”

The “three-peat is, like, iconic,” Rapinoe told two-time World Cup champion and WBD sports analyst Julie Foudy ahead of the USWNT’s 1-0 win over Japan in the SheBelieves Cup, which the US would go on to win after a 2-1 victory over Brazil.

“I think in professional sports that’s like a gold standard. It’s so difficult. Winning one is so difficult, winning two is so difficult,” she added.

The USWNT won the 2019 Women's World Cup with a win over the Netherlands.

Rapinoe has participated in three World Cups and been a part of two winning teams – 2015 and 2019. Despite her success, Rapinoe still feels the pressure to perform.

“I don’t want to talk about it too much, but I obviously know that it’s a big motivator. I don’t want to talk about it too much, but we know what’s on the line,” she said of the tournament, which will run from July 20 to August 20 in Australia and New Zealand.

The four-time World Cup-winning US team took the first step towards defending its title last July with a 5-0 victory against Jamaica at the CONCACAF W Championship. This, combined with Haiti’s 3-0 win over Mexico, sealed a place at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

This year, the US is expected to have a younger team at the tournament. Rapinoe, a veteran player, said her advice to young players is simple: focus on soccer.

“Everybody’s making more money, there’s more media, there’s more sponsorship, there’s more everything,” she said.

Panama celebrates its victory and qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, where it will make its debut.

“There’s more distraction. It’s more fun, it’s exciting, TV contracts are bigger – everything. But nothing happens without what happens on the field,” the US star forward added.

“At the end of the day, the main thing is the main thing: that’s your performance on the field, that’s your preparation leading up.

“We’re in a World Cup year now, so everything has to be that laser focus. All the other stuff takes care of itself. You’ll have time to do the photoshoots and do all the fun stuff and all the off the field stuff, but you don’t get any of that without what’s on the field first,” she said.

Haiti will be one of seven teams making their first World Cup appearance.

This week, Panama became the final team to qualify for the Women’s World Cup after a 1-0 victory over Paraguay in the Intercontinental Playoffs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. They will join France, Jamaica and Brazil in Group F.

The Central American country joins six other teams making their debut at the World Cup: the Philippines, Vietnam, Morocco, Zambia, Haiti, Portugal and the Republic of Ireland.