The United States Women’s National Team (USWNT) will face off with FIFA’s 3rd-ranked France on Tuesday, April 13. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. MT at Stade Océane in Le Havre, one of the country’s architectural jewels and the largest North coast port city.
The Lady Yanks are coming off a dogged 1-1 draw with Sweden on April 10. Both goals for the top-ranked teams came off of set pieces. Megan Rapinoe saved the day for the American’s with a very late penalty kick equalizer.
The hard-earned tie snapped the USA’s winning streak at 16 matches, the third-longest in the team’s 20-plus year history. The draw did preserve their unbeaten streak that has now stretched to an impressive 38 games.
In the post-game press conference, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said, “I think that this is, I wouldn’t say one of the best things that happened to us, but something that is very good for us.” He elaborated, “In fact, that’s why we came here. We came here to play good teams. We came to Europe to play opponents, to some extent get exposed to different tactics, high-level tactics, organized teams and to try to overcome all that.”
He continued, “If we play the way we played today at the (Summer) Olympics, it’s not good enough, and I know that. Nobody has to tell me that. But again, it’s just a good learning opportunity for us to get better.” He added that the subpar showing had a few upsides. The players experienced a genuine test of their combined talents and willpower to overcome the strong Swedish side, while he and his staff captured their collective deficiencies on video.
Call it a critical learning experience for the U.S. ahead of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics. “If there’s something that I wasn’t happy with was the cleanliness of our touch,” Andonovski pointed out as one of many examples. “I feel like we were not clean enough. We made way too many mistakes on the first touch, on the second touch. So that’s something that I feel like, was the base of our countermeasures, or allowing them to counter us,” he said.
During the pre-game presser on Monday, he said, “I don’t wake up in the morning thinking, ‘I wish we don’t do well so it’ll be good for us’... we were exposed to something we had not seen before — their set-up, formation, system, and fluidity — in the terms of how they defended. It was good for us to see and overcome right on the spot, or at least address it going forward. I will say it again, we played one of the best team’s in the world.”
The reflective Andovoski added, “We are talking about a team that’s not used to playing from behind. It was a learning experience for me too, I needed to know, to think about adjustments. The fact that we were able to overcome that and score a goal and almost overcome it completely and gain the advantage, I thought was great... I just hope we don’t find ourselves often or at all in that situation,” the undefeated manager said.
Today, the team arrived in Normandy and will face an even more accomplished squad: Les Bleues.
The most recent meeting between the longtime foes came 2+ years ago in the quarterfinal of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Tournament. Before a capacity crowd in Paris, the Stars and Stripes knocked France out to the tourney 2-1. The match is widely considered as one of the most epic Women’s World Cup games.
The U.S. then went on to win the World Cup Final.
If somehow your heart rate is back to normal, we’ve got some highlights so you can re watch that incredible game all over again. pic.twitter.com/iScsYtlHBx— U.S. Soccer WNT (@USWNT) June 28, 2019
Thirteen of the 14 U.S. players who played against France in the World Cup match are on Andonovski’s travel roster, including Colorado Rush product Lindsey Horan.
A chippy Horan played the full game in Stockholm. Her up and down, side-to-side movement on the pitch was impressive. During this new year, she has already tallied four assists and one goal for the Americans.
Her fellow Coloradan and Real Colorado alum, Sophia Smith did not play in the match. With Andonovski stating today that several of his 23 players will be subject to “managed time” before their return stateside and resumption of National Women’s Soccer League play, Smith may see the pitch alongside Horan.
Since June of 2019, France have gone undefeated, winning 16 games including a dominating 3-1 win over 6th-ranked England last week.
That said, it is fair to think that Les Bleues will be seeking revenge against the Yanks on their home turf at Stade Océane.
How to Watch: USWNT vs. France
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, April, 13 at 1:10 p.m. MT
TV Information: ESPN2
Venue: Stade Océane, Le Havre — France
USWNT ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 2/0), Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 65/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 28/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 109/24), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 134/2), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 6/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 182/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 51/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 108/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 91/20), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 51/14), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 21/4), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 70/21), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 16/0)
FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 299/124), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 173/108), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 142/60), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 173/57), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 3/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 33/10)