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USWNT poised to faceoff with Germany and Hurricane Nicole

Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB

Both the United States Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) and FIFA’s 3rd ranked National squad are currently holding training camps in Florida, ahead of two matches this month, the first bring play this Thursday evening at DRV PNK Stadium in Lauderdale, Florida stadium, and again, on November 13, at Red Bull Arena in Hairston, New Jersey.

In the meantime, some 350 miles off of the eastern coast of Florida, a massive subtropical storm is brewing into a hurricane. Nicole is currently on track to strike the Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area hours before the first whistle is scheduled to blow.

With the July-August 2023 Women’s World Cup Tournament on the far horizon, all of the 32 qualifiers are gearing up for the international event, and eagerly coming together to tune up their rosters and competitive play via friendlies.

Team USA is set to be in Group E along with Vietnam and the Netherlands.

After the tournament’s highly anticipated draw that was held in Auckland on Saturday, October 22, Colorado Rush alum and USWNT’s linchpin in the midfield, Lindsey Horan stated, “This is exciting and I obviously look at Netherlands for the second game – a little rematch there – but also knowing two of my teammates from Lyon (France) that I’ll be fighting against.”

The upbeat Horan continued, “Netherlands is a very good team and one that’s developing a lot, and it’s changed a lot in the last two years or so. And then the opening game against Vietnam, I think that’s great for us to get us going in the tournament and just overall I’m very excited.”

Lindsay Horan encourages USWNT teammates during a match.
Photo Credit: John A. Babiak @Photog_JohnB

The USA played in England and Spain in mid-October and were bullied in both of their matches.

England’s Lionesses trumped the U.S. 2-1, before 70,000 plus fans in Northeast London’s iconic Wembley Stadium, then Spain shut down the often potent U.S., 2-0 in historic Pamplona, Spain.

The results marked the USWNT’s first consecutive defeats to top ranking FIFA teams since 2017.

Horan reflected on the two setbacks, “I think we have a lot of work to do in the next year. We’re coming off these two games against England and Spain and you see the competitiveness, how the game is changing and how these teams are evolving. We lost two games and you can talk about all the players we were missing and what not, but we need to be better.”

She continued, “We need to learn and grow from these games and even without certain players on the field we have to adapt and develop this style that we’re going to go in and play in the World Cup. So hopefully we improve a lot in the next nine months and we have a lot of growing to do.”

The games against Germany will be not easy assignments for the Lady Yanks, both for the seasoned players including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, as well as the constellation of stars including Coloradoan’s Sophia Smith, Jaelin Howell, Mallory Pugh, and CU alumni- Taylor Kornieck.

Two of Horan’s many job descriptions include developing into a field general and mentoring the ever evolving younger players.

“Honestly some of these younger players, you don’t really think they’re that young Like Sophia Smith, Trinity Rodman, these are players that have been playing in the league the past few seasons and are doing really well,” said Horan from her European outpost in Lyon. “They’re mature and they’re growing and coming in and starting so many games for the National Team. This is exciting for them, but you’re going to a major tournament and for them to see what we’ve had to deal with against Spain and England was huge.”

Horan elaborated, “That kind of sets the tone for what the World Cup is going to be like. So, again, I’m really excited for them. I think they’re going to be amazing going into this year and this World Cup and we’ll see what they bring.”

According to U.S. Soccer, Thursday’s game will be the 17th meeting between the teams on American soil, where the USA has a record a 11-2-3 in the previous 16 meetings. Germany finished runner up at the 2022 UEFA Women’s EURO, narrowly falling to England in overtime, 2-1, on July 31 in front of a record-setting crowd of 87,192 fans at Wembley.

In the final against England, Germany was without star forward Klara Buhl, who was ruled out due to a positive COVID result.

Despite her absence, Germany created chances throughout the match. Ultimately, England scored the game-winning goal in 110th minute to hand the Germans their first ever defeat in a EURO final.

In the last three meetings between the USA and Germany all came during the SheBelieves Cup, with the teams meeting during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions of the tournament.

The USA won all three matchup and is unbeaten in the last 15 head-to-head meetings with Germany though all three games were decided by just one goal.

Speaking to members of the media last week when camp opened in Fort Lauderdale, head coach Vlatko Andonovski said that mistakes from the two losses in October have been dissected and the outcomes applied to recent field-based training sessions as well as during lectures in team’s classroom.

The roster may vary too. The gaffer said, “This team may look slightly different, or somewhat different, three, four or five months from now, just from the last game, Alex Morgan and Mallory Pugh are back, Emily Fox is back, who got injured early in the game.”

He added that, ”Sofia Huerta is now 90 minutes cleared. She had restrictions in the previous games. Crystal Dunn is going to have extra minutes. Cat Macario may come back and, very likely, slot in one of the starting positions, if she is anywhere near her best. There is possibility of other players to be back.... No matter what, we have to get better, but there are some things that may change by changing the personnel.”

Assuming that Hurricane Nicole gives everyone involved a break, this match should be a real smash hit for viewing. Hopefully, the Yanks will learn for their recent defeats and regain their FIFA #1 mojo.

The Burgundy Wave will be on-site, rain poncho and water-tight cameras included to cover this not so friendly, friendly.