LE HAVRE, France (Jan. 19, 2019) – The U.S. Women’s National Team opened its 10-game pre-2019 World Cup schedule with a 3-1 loss to tournament hosts, France at Stade Océane – one of the USA’s group stage venues for this summer’s competition – in front of raucous sold-out crowd of 23,000.
France’s Kadidiatou Diani put the hosts on the board early with a goal in the 9th minute, while the USA was able to get a few chances with Christen Press leading the way on the left wing.
In the second half, the USA came out determined and immediately began to get into France’s final third, with a good chance coming around the 50th minute mark. In the 56th however, Diani 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 Mallory Pugh finished off a good passing sequence with a well-taken shot across the face of goal into the lower right corner in second half stoppage time.
Up Next: The U.S. travels to the southern tip of the Iberian penninsula to face Spain in Alicante on January 22 (2:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2 & UDN) at Estadio José Rico Pérez. The match will be the first in history between the teams.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
FRA – Kadidiatou Diani (Delphine Cascarino), 9th: The USA turned the ball over in its attacking third and France sprung a counter attack down the right side as Delphine Cascarino sprinted past Emily Fox to win the ball and took it to the end line before cutting it back in the box for Diani. She bodied off a U.S. defender as she collected the ball and then hit a low shot into the lower left corner from nine yards out for the early lead. USA 0, FRA 1
FRA – Kadidiatou Diani (Marion Torrent), 56th: France doubled its advantage on a nice bit of individual play from Diani, who ran onto a ball in the right side of the U.S. penalty area and sent a deft chip over U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, dropping it into the net just inside the right post. USA 0, FRA 2
FRA – Marie-Antoinette Katoto (Élise Bussaglia), 78th: With the U.S. pushing forward trying to pull a game back, France’s 20-year old young star got behind the U.S. back line on left side, dribbled around Naeher and rolled the ball to the back of the net from a tight angle. USA 0, FRA 3.
USA – Mallory Pugh (Carli Lloyd), 90+1: The U.S. put together a flowing move beginning with a pass out of the back that Jessica McDonald one-touched to Carli Lloyd, who spotted the early run of Pugh and hit a quick chip over the France defense. Pugh out-worked a defender to collect Lloyd’s pass and rifle a low shot from the left side of the box across the face of goal and into the lower right corner. USA 1, FRA 3 [WATCH] FINAL
- Tonight marked the first loss for the USA in 28 games. The U.S. hadn’t lost a game since July 2017 when it lost 1-0 to Australia.
- Several U.S. players were precautionarily unavailable today: Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Casey Short, and Julie Ertz due to minor injuries, while Kelley O'Hara is still returning from ankle surgery, but not yet game ready.
- Tierna Davidson made her first appearance for the USA since Sept. 4, 2018. Davidson broke her ankle early in the season while playing with Stanford and was out for the remainder of the year.
- The USA’s record vs. France now stands at 17-3-3.
USA vs. FRANCE
Date: Jan. 19, 2019
Venue: Stade Ocèane; Le Havre, France
Broadcast: FS1, UDN
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. ET
Starting XI vs. France: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 2-Emily Sonnett, 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 26-Emily Fox; 6-Morgan Brian, 9-Lindsey Horan, 19-Crystal Dunn; 11-Mallory Pugh, 13-Alex Morgan (capt.), 23-Christen Press
Subs: 3- Samantha Mewis, 10-Carli Lloyd, 12-Tierna Davidson, 16-Rose Lavelle, 20-Jessica McDonald, 21-Adrianna Franch, 22-Danielle Colaprico, 25-McCall Zerboni, 27-Andi Sullivan
- The USA is unbeaten in its last 28 matches (25-0-3) and has averaged 3.3 goals per game, outscoring its opponents 93-17 over those 28 matches while scoring in all 28 games.
- Since the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, the USA has failed to score in just one game (vs. Australia at the 2017 ToN). That’s a 33-game span.
- Alyssa Naeher will earn her 40th career cap tonight. She has 21 career shutouts and is the fifth goalkeeper in U.S. history to earn 30 or more caps.
- Emily Sonnett will earn cap 27 today.
- Abby Dahlkemper will earn her 31st cap tonight. She played in 17 of the USA’s 20 games of 2018.
- Becky Sauerbrunn will earn her 150th cap tonight. She becomes the 20th player, and just the third player who has played exclusively defender, to play 150 times for the U.S. WNT.
- Emily Fox will earn her third cap today after making her debut vs. Portugal on Nov. 8. She is the 26th player to be capped under head coach Jill Ellis. Fox, who has started in all three of her caps so far, is a rising junior at the University of North Carolina.
- Morgan Brian earns career cap No. 82 today at just 25-years-old.
- Lindsey Horan scored three goals in 2018 and had eight assists, second-most on the team. She is making her 63rd international appearance with the WNT.
- Crystal Dunn will earn cap No. 76 today.
- Still 20-years-old, Mallory Pugh will earn her 44th career cap today. She scored six goals in 2018 and had three assists. In her career she has scored 12 goals – most recently vs. Chile on Sept. 4 – and has earned 14 assists.
- Alex Morgan scored 18 goals in 2018 and now has 98 career goals in 153 caps. At age 29, she sits in sole possession of seventh place on the USA's all-time goal list. Morgan has scored 25 goals over her last 26 WNT matches, a span that runs from the end of 2017. The 25 goals have included six braces and one hat trick. Morgan will earn cap No. 154 today and is one away from tying Michelle Akers (155) for 17th all-time in caps.
- Christen Press will earn her 107th cap tonight. She has scored 46 career goals after scoring vs. Panama on Oct. 7 and is now in 13th place on the all-time WNT goals list. She averages 0.43 goals per game and 0.76 goals per every 90 minutes she's on the field.
With the calendar turning to 2019 and the World Cup just five months away, the countdown to France has officially begun.
Since the end of the last Olympics, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis and her staff have spent the better part of two and half years evaluating players, and the 27 that traveled to Portugal for the “pre-season” training camp represent those who have shown the talent and mental fortitude to be a part of the squad during this crucial time.
As the team comes together on the pitch for the final push to the World Cup, they are also coming together off the field.
“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. “They enjoy being around each other and they have a lot fun. Part of coming away [to Europe for January training camp] was having them spend time with each other and invest in each other and you can definitely see that.”
But of course, it’s the games that are the proving grounds for players and the USA has a great one to start the year.
Following the training period of just over a week in the Algarve region of Portugal , the USA traveled to Normandy in northern France and will kick off its schedule against the 2019 World Cup hosts in Le Havre on January 19 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1 & UDN). The match is a sell-out with 23,000 fans expected, very few of whom will be rooting for the USA, creating exactly the kind of atmosphere the U.S. needs to prepare for this summer.
France, ranked No. 3 in the world, is stocked with world-class players all over the field and are a strong favorite to win the tournament this summer. With a deep array of talent on its roster, 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 seven-game win streak in which they outscored their opponents, 27-1. In 2018, France saw 15 players get on the scoresheet, led by star forward Eugénie Le Sommer’s nine goals.
Le Sommer continues to be one of the world's greatest goal scorers.
The USA is 17-2-3 all-time against France, but the last eight games between the two have produced a 4-2-2 record for the USA as France has risen into the world’s elite. This makes the game on Jan. 19 an important test for both squads on their journeys to the world’s premier women’s sporting event, and even more so for France, who as hosts of the tournament earned an automatic berth and thus played no qualifying matches.
“It was critical to have [the team] play in France before the World Cup and this was the window of opportunity,” Ellis said. “It’s in our building period and during our preseason journey, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up. France is going to be tremendous opponent to start 2019. They’re a great team and one of the favorites to win the World Cup. It’s going to be really good to see where we’re at during this early phase. When we planned this trip, we didn’t know our World Cup draw, but now we’ll have the benefit of playing in one of the cities where we will play in June, so it’s a win-win to get the lay of the land.”Read more