The U.S. Women’s National Team is set to face Australia on Thursday, July 27 (7 p.m. PT; ESPN) to kick off the 2017 Tournament of Nations. It will be the first match between the teams since the opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a 2-1 U.S. victory in Winnipeg, Canada. Here are five things to know about the Matildas:
Australia Women's National Team Roster by Position:GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Lydia Williams (Houston Dash, USA), 18-Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar FC)
DEFENDERS (6): 3-Caitlin Cooper (Illawarra Stingrays), 4-Claire Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar FC), 5-Laura Alleway (Unattached), 7-Steph Catley (Orlando Pride, USA), 14-Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride, USA), 21-Ellie Carpenter (Western Sydney Wanderers FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 2-Gema Simon (Avaldsnes, Norway), 6-Chloe Logarzo (Avaldsnes, Norway), 8-Elise Kellond-Knight (FC Turbine Potsdam, Germany), 9-Caitlin Foord (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), 10-Emily van Egmond (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), 13-Tameka Butt (Klepp I-L, Norway), 19-Katrina Gorry (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), 22-Alex Chidiac (Adelaide City)
FORWARDS (5): 11-Lisa De Vanna (South Melbourne), 15-Emily Gielnik (Avaldsnes, Norway), 16-Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns, USA), 17-Princess Ibini (Football NSW NTC), 20-Sam Kerr (Sky Blue FC, USA)
NWSL StrongAustralia brought 21 players to the Tournament of Nations and only eight of them currently play their club soccer domestically. The players are spread out in clubs in Norway (four players), Germany (two players), Japan (two players) and of course in the USA in the NWSL, where five players on roster play their trade.
Leading the Aussie contingent in the USA has been Sam Kerr, who has been on fire for Sky Blue FC this season and is currently second in the NWSL in scoring with 11 goals. Several others have been having quality seasons. Hayley Raso has been dangerous for Portland all season and has scored two goals with two assists. Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy have been tough defenders for the Orlando Pride while Lydia Williams started the season in goal for the Houston Dash, but has recently been backing up young U.S. 'keeper Jane Campbell.
The Veteran: Lisa De VannaAustralia’s captain is veteran forward Lisa De Vanna, Australia's most acclaimed attacker. She has 40 goals in 121 caps coming into the tournament. Known as one of the fastest players in the world, she scored her country's lone goal against the USA in the opening game of the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. De Vanna has scored three of the last four goals against the U.S. for Australia dating back to 2012.
The Maltildas in 2017Australia began its 2017 campaign with a good run at the 2017 Algarve Cup in Portugal, finishing fourth after losing in a penalty kick shootout to Denmark in the third-place match after tying 1-1 in regulation on a goal from Kyah Simon.
The three upcoming games at the Tournament of Nations against the USA, Brazil and Japan will be the next set of competitive matches for Australia. Following its trip stateside, it will return home to face Brazil twice more in a set of friendlies on Sept. 15 and 19 in Sydney and Newcastle, Australia
Leading the Pack: Alen Stajcic
Australia’s head coach is Alen Satjcic, who was a highly successful youth coach in Australia. He coached the Australia U-20 WNT before being named head coach of the senior side in 2014. In March 2016, he helped qualify the Matildas for the Olympic Games for the first time in 12 years eliminating World Cup finalists Japan along the way. The Matildas topped the Asian Qualifying group, were undefeated in the tournament and subsequently attained their highest FIFA Ranking – fifth.
In the last five years, the Matildas have big made strides on the world stage. In 2015, Australia made it to the quarterfinal of the Women's World Cup, and most recently made it to the quarterfinal of the 2016 Olympic tournament, but fell to Brazil in a penalty kick shootout that went eight players deep. The game between Australia and Brazil on Aug. 3 will be the first meeting between the two since that Olympic quarterfinal.
Australia 2023???Australia announced in early June that it would bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup with the Federal Government announcing it will financially back Football Federation Australia (FFA) to put together a bid proposal. The Australian Government will provide initial funding worth $1 million, with a further $4 million to be made available should it be satisfied the bid has a chance of being successful. Final bids are expected to be made by late 2018, with FIFA set to announce the successful host the following year.
The Government noted the potential economic benefits of hosting the Women's World Cup, with the 2015 edition in Canada attracting more than a million spectators and a global TV audience of more than 760 million viewers. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Canberra would be expected to host the 24-team tournament, which will feature 52 matches, with each city having staged fixtures in the men's AFC Asian Cup in 2015. Australia hosted the highly successful Olympic soccer tournaments for men and women in 2000.