The United States Women's National Team takes to the field for the first time in 2016 against the Republic of Ireland and while this looks like it will be a mismatch, this is an important test for the USWNT as the prep for the 2016 Summer Olympics.
The Goal for the USWNT: Olympic Roster Spot Qualification
What to Watch For
1) Olympic Qualification--next month in Dallas and Houston the Stars and Stripes will begin the qualification process for the Summer Games in Rio. And games like this will give Gaffer Jill Ellis a chance to see who is ready to make that team. Certainly, the big names are safe, but fringe players will be looking to make their mark. And remember the Olympic roster is only 18 players opposed to the 23 that went to the Women's World Cup in Canada last summer.
2) The Post Abby Era--this is also the first match after the retirement of Abby Wambach. One could argue that Wambach has not had much of an impact in the last couple of years, but her shadow has loomed large over the USWNT for quite some time. Wambach's impact on soccer in the United States is as great as any player that has ever pulled on boots for their country, so it will be interesting to watch the first match since she retired.
3) Local connection--Malory Pugh of Real Colorado is on the roster for the USWNT and although she is just 17, there are some that think she can make the jump and make the USWNT. And no, she is not skipping UCLA for Portland Thorns.
4) Speaking of the Roster--Here is the full roster:
Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Univ. of Virginia)
Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (PSG), Rose Lavelle (Wisconsin), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O'Reilly (FC Kansas City)
Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Stephanie McCaffrey (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Saturday, 23 January 2016 at 3:00 PM MST
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium--San Diego, California
Television Information: Fox Sports 1
Weather at Kick-off: Cloudy, 62 degrees
Supporters Watch Party: American Outlaws Denver will host a watch party at British Bulldog in Denver
Live Stream: None. (A replay will be available on Fox Sports 2 Go on 25 January 2016)