The U.S. Women’s Nation Soccer Team (USWNT) begins its final build-up for the World Cup today in France in the first of a 10-game “Countdown to the Cup” tour. The sixth game of the 5-month long series will bring the team to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park for a match-up against Australia’s formidable Matildas on April 4th.
The internationally televised friendly will be played before an expected sellout crowd of 25,000+ in Stade Océane, one of nine venues that will host the FIFA Women’s World Cup this June and July in France. The USWNT will find themselves in Stade Océane again this summer when they play their third Group F match against Sweden on June 20. Joining the USA in Group F will be Chile, Thailand, and Sweden.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the eighth consecutive World Cup appearance for the USWNT, including their three wins in 1991, 1999, and 2015.
For Colorado native and former Colorado Rush star, Lindsey Horan, the match will be a homecoming of sorts. Straight out of Golden High School in Colorado, Horan played three-and-a-half years with Paris Saint-German FC women’s side, where she was also a nominee for the first France Football Women’s Ballon d’Or Award. After returning stateside, she joined the Portland Thorns in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). Horan had a stellar 2018 season with the Thorns, earning NWSL MVP and tying for second in the league with 13 goals. For her national team, she scored three goals and offered up had eight assists in 2018, second-most on the team.
The central midfielder will team up again with fellow Coloradan and Colorado Real product Mallory Pugh. The diminutive yet adept forward is currently sixth on the squad in caps with 43—all before the age of 21—and including 31 starts. Despite setbacks with injuries throughout 2018, she doubled her career goals by finding the back of net six times. Both players are at 100% health and fitness according to US Head Coach Jill Ellis, and they are expected to suit up and be available for selection.
Before traveling to northern France, the Lady Yanks spent nine days in Portugal for a pre-season camp. Ellis and her staff chose 27 players for the January Camp and will chose 20 players to dress the match verse France. “The players have done a lot of work on the field, but you can see naturally in the group that there’s an energy and there’s a cohesion and that’s the it factor that you need to have in a team to be ready to step onto the world stage,” U.S. WNT head coach Ellis said in a press conference.
The USWNT is 17-2-3 all-time against France. The last eight games following their meeting at the 2012 Olympics have produced a 4-2-2 record for the USA, as France has steadily risen into the world’s elite. They are currently ranked 3rd in the FIFA ranks. Team USA is ranked number one.
The most recent meeting between the US and France came last March in Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup Tournament. The match was evenly played until Mallory Pugh scored for the USWMT in the 35th minute. Just four minutes later during a let down by the home team’s defensive unit, Eugénie Le Sommer scored for France. The game concluded in a 1-1 draw.
This friendly has has the making of a marquee match-up. France is playing before a home crowd and have a chip on their shoulder. Les Bleues have not lost in France since the beginning of 2016, compiling a record of 21-0-3 at home over that time. They ended 2018 on a 7-game win streak in which they outscored their opponents, 27-1. They are led by star forward Eugénie Le Sommer’s who scored nine goals in 2018.
The Americans, on the other hand, remained undefeated in 2018 with 18 wins and two ties. The team has an unbeaten streak of 27 games (24 wins, three ties) dating to a 1-0 loss to Australia in the Tournament of Nations.
At a recent press conference Ellis added: “We’re going to go out and play and from there, we’re going to take good lessons and good experiences to help us continue to get better. And there’s no better experience than this. This is one of the favorites, home team. It’s everything as a coach you want.” In her view, playing top teams is the most important way to prepare for a successful World Cup, and there’s no better place to get it started than here, facing off against their top competition and seeing who emerges on top.”
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Saturday, January 19 at 12:45 p.m. MT
Venue: Stade Océane in Le Havre, France
Coverage: FS1 and UDN, Streaming is available on Fubo
Fans can also follow along via SBNation’s Star and Stripes FC twitter account: @StarsStripesFC.
Check for local Colorado viewing events hosted by American OutLaws chapters: