Head coach Mark Sampson, a finalist for FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Soccer, brings 19 of the 23 players from the 2015 Women’s World Cup Team that achieved its historic third-place finish.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Notts County)
DEFENDERS (9): Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Arsenal)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Katie Chapman (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Arsenal)
FORWARDS (6): Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Karen Carney (Chelsea), Gemma Davison (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns FC)
Since the Women’s World Cup
Beginning in September 2015, England has been competing in UEFA Women’s Euro Qualifying, where they have beaten Estonia (8-0) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (1-0). They currently rank third in Group 7 falling one point shy of Serbia and Belgium with six games left to play. The top two teams move qualify for Euro 2017 in the Netherlands. England will resume qualifiers in April against Belgium. England has played three international friendlies since the World Cup, losing to China (1-2), defeating Australia (1-0) and tying Germany (0-0).
Who to Watch
Five players are well past 100 caps for England, led by Fara Williams with 148 caps and 40 goals. Goalkeeper Karen Bardsley, who grew up in Southern California, and captain Steph Houghton, who played every minute of the Women’s World Cup and scored vs. Norway in the Round of 16, are two of the team’s leaders. Williams scored three times from the penalty spot during the World Cup, including the game-winner against Germany in overtime of the third-place match. Other veterans include speedy outside back Alex Scott and 5-foot-11 center midfielder Jill Scott. Former University of North Carolina defender Lucy Bronze is also on the roster, and scored twice in the World Cup, including the game-winner against Canada in the quarterfinal match. England will bring a plethora of attacking talent that also includes Portland Thorns forward Jodie Taylor, who scored the first goal against Canada at the Women’s World Cup. Williams and Eniola Aluko (98) are in line to make their 150th and 100th appearances respectively for England during the tournament.
2015 Women’s World Cup Finish
From 1991-2011, England made it to the Women’s World Cup for three out of the six tournaments, but never advanced past the quarterfinal round. 2015 marked a historic run for England, which finished second in Group F and advanced to the knock-out stage where it picked up two huge wins, defeating Norway in the Round of 16 and host Canada in the Quarterfinal, both by 2-1 scores. Even though England lost to Japan in the semifinal on a tragic late own goal, it ended the tournament on a high with a third-place finish, defeating two-time Women’s World Cup champion Germany 1-0 on a 108th minute by a penalty kick from Williams.
England is not eligible to participate in the Olympics as Great Britain sends an united team and England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not play Olympic soccer. An exception was made for the 2012 London Olympics with England as host and the GB Team won its group by winning all three first round matches by shutout before losing in the quarterfinal to Canada, 2-0.
vs. USA (March 3; 7:30 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium; Tampa, Fla.)
In its most recent meeting with the USA, England lost 1-0 on home soil in Milton Keynes in early February of last year. The win for the USA sparked a 24-game unbeaten streak which included the run to the World Cup title. Alex Morgan scored the lone goal on a header and England had a goal controversially waved off due to offside. The match between the two teams before that one saw England defeat the USA, 2-1, in London in 2011, earning only its third victory over the U.S. Prior to that, the teams hadn’t met since the 2007 Women’s World Cup, a 3-0 victory for the USA during the quarterfinal in Tianjin, China. The USA is 8-3-1 all-time against England and the Americans lost its first two matches against England, played in 1985 and 1988, both played in Italy. The 1985 match was the third ever played by the U.S. Women’s National Team, a 3-1 setback
vs. FRA (March 9; 5 p.m. CT at FAU Stadium; Boca Raton, Fla.)
Both England and France were drawn into Group F of the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the French emerged with a 1-0 victory to kick off the tournament. England powered back to advance to the knockout stage behind France and eventually finished ahead of them. Since 2011, France has played six matches against England, and won just once while losing the other five.
vs. GER (March 6; 4:30 p.m. CT at Nissan Stadium; Nashville, Tenn.)
In its last international friendly of 2015, England tied Germany 0-0 showing that the 1-0 victory in the Women’s World Cup third-place match was no fluke. Germany defeated England 3-0 during a friendly match in November 2014 at Wembley Stadium played in front of a massive crowd of 45,619 fans.