The U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) kicked off its 10-game pre-2019 World Cup series of friendlies against FIFA Women’s World Cup host France this past Saturday with a start-to-finish 3-1 drubbing. Colorado’s Mallory Pugh played the full game and scored the lone goal for the Lady Yanks in stoppage time.
The outcome abruptly ended the Lady Yanks’ 28-game unbeaten run that dated back to the summer of 2017. Conversely, for their opponents, the victory kept France unbeaten on home turf since early 2016. Many predict that the Les Bleues and Yanks will face-off again in the quarterfinals this summer’s June 7 through July 7 World Cup Tournament.
Against France, U.S. Head Coach Jill Ellis held out injured starters Julie Ertz, Megan Rapinoe and and Tobin Heath. Starting right back Kelley O’Hara did not suit up as she is recovering from ankle surgery, and reserve outside fullback Casey Short sat out the game as well.
The U.S. side faced a very talented and athletic France team in front of 22,870 patriotic fans just four days ago. The unyielding Les Bleues had their way from start-to-finish. Kadidiatou Diani put the hosts on the board early with a goal in the 9th minute. In the second half, the USA came out determined and began to get into France’s final third, however, in the 56th Diani again showed off some excellent individual play and netted her second of the match for the 2-0 France advantage. France’s 20-year-old Marie-Antoinette Katoto added a third in the final minutes of regulation, before former Colorado Real’s star Mallory Pugh brought down a lofty chip pass from midfielder Sam Mewis, then stepped her way into the box, and scored with a pretty left-footed strike.
In convincingly defeating the U.S, France picked up right where they left off their 2018 season- adding to a seven-game win streak, and outscored their foes, 30-2, to date. It was the USA’s first loss in 29 matches dating back to the summer of 2017. Since the 2017 SheBelieves Cup in March of that year, the USA has failed to score in just one game verse Australia.
After the match, U.S Head Coach Jill Ellis stated: “I think we can be disappointed in the result, but not be discouraged.” She added: “I think where are in terms of our process right now, we told our players we’re in a preseason and this was a big ask, but not to lose sight of where we want to be. This was a great test for us tonight.”
This afternoon, the U.S. Women aim to rebound from the loss with their second and final match in Europe against FIFA Women’s 12th ranked team, Spain. The game will be played in Estadio José Rico Perez in Alicante, and will mark the first game between the teams at the senior level. It will be the USA’s first match in Spain. The match with Spain will mark the 27th European country the USA has faced in its history.
Team USA will next return stateside to start a 8-game, coast-to-coast, “Countdown to the Cup” tour, including a stop on April 4th in metro Denver’s Dick’s Sporting Goods Park to tackle Australia’s Matildas.
Spain will be looking for its first win in 2019 after coming off of a 1-1 draw with Belgium last week. Spain’s forward Alba Redondo came off bench to score in the 64th minute. Spain is expected to be at 100% at game time, while the USWMT will again be at less than full-strength.
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, January 22 at 12:30 p.m. MT
USWNT and SB Nation Soccer fans can also follow the match via SBNation’s Star and Stripes FC twitter account: @StarsStripesFC
Check for local Colorado viewing events hosted by American OutLaws chapters: