Since September 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team has played 10 different opponents -- nine teams from Europe plus Thailand.
The USA’s list of European opponents since last fall includes the Netherlands, two sets of matches each against Switzerland and Romania, tough tests against England, France and Germany at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup and another double-dip against Russia in April. Most recently of course, there were the two big wins against Sweden in Gothenburg on June 8, and against Norway in Sandefjord on June 11.
So, besides belonging to the same Confederation, what do eight of these nine European countries have in common? They make up half of the field for the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO tournament taking place this July in the Netherlands. Romania nearly made it into the last 16 as well but fell to Portugal in the playoff for the final spot.
WNT vs. Netherlands, this year's EURO hosts.
The UEFA Women’s EURO is the most prestigious competition for women’s international soccer in Europe and, after the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games, the biggest and most competitive women’s international tournament in the world.
And facing the best is precisely what U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis committed to do coming out of the recent Olympic cycle.
“I said it last year, we want our schedule to be aggressive,” Ellis told ussoccer.com. “We’re always trying to play top-10 teams and elite teams. It’s a priority and our Federation knows it’s a priority for our team because it’s in those games where we will see growth. The games against European teams are critical.”
With the next Women’s World Cup in France, surely the European nations – especially France and Germany – will be favorites to lift the trophy in Lyon. By then, the USA clearly will have cut its teeth on European competition.
Including the games against Sweden and Norway, the U.S. has now played exactly half of the EURO field in less than a year, a rarity for most countries both in terms of the high level of opposition and the short amount of time in which the games have taken place.Read more
Photos from the U.S. WNT's friendly vs. the Netherlands on Sept. 19, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. The U.S. Women’s National Team notched two second-half goals to earn a 3-1 victory against the Netherlands in front of 15,652 fans at the Georgia Dome.Read more
ATLANTA (Sept. 18, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team notched two second-half goals to earn a 3-1 victory against the Netherlands in front of 15,652 fans at the Georgia Dome.
The Netherlands scored the game’s first goal less than two minutes into the contest on an abrupt counter attack finished by Shanice van de Sanden. U.S. WNT captain Carli Lloyd evened the score in the 35th minute with an assist from Tobin Heath, marking her 94th career goal in her 230th international appearance.
A Netherlands own goal from Mandy van den Berg five minutes into the second half gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead before Allie Long registered an insurance goal on a close-range header in the 77th minute.
Alyssa Naeher made five saves to maintain her perfect record through her three starts in 2016.
The USA returns to action against Switzerland in a friendly at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Wednesday, Oct. 19. (7 p.m. MT; ESPN2).
Goal Scoring Rundown:
NED – Shanice van de Sanden, 2nd minute: Dutch captain Mandy van den Berg stopped an early U.S. attack when she lofted the ball from her own 18-yard box to the midfield. The ball deflected past the WNT back line, giving the speedy Shanice van de Sanden a breakaway down the middle of the field. van de Sanden dribbled into the USA area at a fast pace and sent a powerful right-footed shot past a diving Alyssa Naeher and inside the far post. USA 0, NED 1. GOAL.
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath), 35th minute: Right back Whitney Engen began an attack from the midfield with a left footed cross toward the right corner for Tobin Heath. Heath gathered the pass and took two right-footed touches toward the end line before slotting a pass to a charging Carli Lloyd, who finished inside the near post with her right foot from eight yards out. USA 1, NED 1. GOAL.
USA – own goal (Mandy van den Berg), 50th minute: Christen Press found space on the left flank and sent a low cross in for Tobin Heath at the top of the six-yard box. Heath and Netherlands defender van den Berg got tangled up when battling for the ball, resulting in van den Berg falling to the ground and accidentally directing the ball into her own goal. USA 2, NED 1. GOAL.
USA, Allie Long (Carli Lloyd) 77th minute: Megan Rapinoe sent a right-footed cross from the top corner of the 18-yard box to Carli Lloyd at the far post. Lloyd headed the ball toward Allie Long at the mouth of the goal and the midfielder met the ball with her head, sending it over the goalkeeper and into the back of the goal. USA 3, NED 1. GOAL. FINAL.
Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
NED – Sari van Veenendaal, 49th minute: Ali Krieger sent a low cross in to Morgan Brian, who sent a shot off the post and then Dutch ‘keeper Sari van Veenendaal’s leg. Lloyd followed up the rebound, but van Veenendaal did well to make a point-blank save and force a U.S. corner kick.
USA – Alyssa Naeher, 81st minute: Shanie van de Sanden almost got her second goal of the evening when she ran down the right side for a one-on-one with U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Naeher however was able to stretch to her right and get a hand on the ball to send it out for a Netherlands corner kick.
Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT hosts Switzerland in a pair of friendlies in October. The first match is on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah (TICKETS) and will air live on ESPN2 beginning at 7 p.m. MT. The second game of the series will take place on Sunday, Oct. 23, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota (TICKETS). The match will air live on FS1 beginning at 12p.m. CT.
- U.S. WNT captain Carli Lloyd scored her 15th goal of 2016. With 94 international goals, 31 goals in her past 32 games, she is six goals away from becoming the sixth USA player to score 100 or more goals.
- Lloyd also registered her 11th assist of the year and fifth in two games. A team-leading mark.
- Tobin Heath tallied her seventh assist on the year, moving her into a tie for second on the team with Mallory Pugh.
- Allie Long scored her third career goal in her 12th appearance of 2016, and 16th international cap.
- U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher notched her third start in goal in 2016 and fourth appearance this year. It was her third win as a starting goalkeeper in 2016 and now has eight career caps.
USA vs. Netherlands
Sept. 18, 2016
Broadcast: FS1, 7 p.m. ET
Tonight’s U.S. WNT Starting XI vs. Netherlands: 18-Alyssa Naeher; 6-Whitney Engen, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 8-Julie Johnston, 7-Meghan Klingenberg; 19-Lindsey Horan, 3-Allie Long, 14-Morgan Brian, 17-Tobin Heath; 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.), 13-Alex Morgan
Subs: 11-Ali Krieger, 12-Christen Press, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 16-Crystal Dunn, 20-Samantha Mewis, 21-Emily Sonnett, 22-Ashlyn Harris.
- USA captain Carli Lloyd earns her 230th cap. She has scored 93 international goals, including 14 in 2016 and is seven away from becoming the sixth WNT player to score a 100 or more goals.
- Lloyd scored her seventh career hat trick against Thailand on Sept. 15, and recorded four assists to become the first player in U.S. WNT history to score three goals and have four assists in one game. She has 10 assists in 2016, a team-leading mark. Since the Round of 16 at the FIFA WWC, Lloyd has scored 30 goals in 31 matches.
- Alyssa Naeher makes her third start in goal of 2016 and fourth appearance this year. She will earn her eighth international cap tonight.
- Whitney Engen, who had her first start at a major tournament on Aug. 6 against France at the Olympics, will make her fifth start of 2016 and 11th appearance to earn her 40th cap.
- Becky Sauerbrunn, who recorded her third assist of 2016 against Thailand on Sept. 15, will make her 19th appearance and start of the year.
- Julie Johnston, who with three goals is the highest scoring defender on the roster this year, makes her 15 the start of the year and earns her 43rd cap. The last time the USA played the Netherlands marked the first time Johnston played a full 90 minutes with the team. She played center midfielder and has a goal disallowed.
- Meghan Klingenberg returns to the starting lineup to make her 18th start and 20th appearance of 2016. She will earn her 70th cap with the WNT.
- Lindsey Horan makes her 13th start of the year and 26th international appearance. She has scored two goals in 2016.
- Tobin Heath makes her 16th start of the year to go along with her four goals and six assists. She scored against Thailand on Sept. 15.
- Allie Long will make her 10th start of 2016 and 12th appearance of the year. Since joining the WNT in April, Long has quadrupled her career caps. Long came into this year with only four WNT appearances under her belt but with today’s start, she will earn her 16th cap. She has two goals and two assists this year as well.
- Morgan Brian returns to the starting lineup after missing the Sept. 15 matchup against Thailand due to being kept out of the match for precautionary reasons after taking an elbow to the head in the Houston Dash’s NWSL game last Sunday. She has gone through the concussion protocols and has been cleared to play. She will earn her 59th international appearance.
- Alex Morgan, who leads the team with 15 goals this year, scored a brace against Thailand on Sept. 15 to record her 19th career multi-goal game. She has 71 goals in 117 caps. The only other time Morgan scored double-digits in a single year for the USA was in 2012 (28 goals).
- There will be quite a few friends and family for Brian and Emily Sonnett tonight as the two are Georgia natives. Kelley O’Hara is the third Georgia native with the WNT but she won’t be available on Sunday due to a death in her family.