CHICAGO (Oct. 21, 2017) – There are only three games remaining on the U.S. Women’s National Team’s 2017 schedule, with a second friendly against Korea Republic coming up next on Oct. 22 (2 p.m. ET; ESPN) at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina. The USA is 8-0-2 all-time against Korea Republic, which is ranked 15th in the world.
The two teams most recently met on Thursday, Oct. 19 in New Orleans, La. where the USA came out on top with a 3-1 score line with goals courtesy of Julie Ertz, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Before this week's game, the two teams had last met in 2015, a 0-0 draw in New Jersey in the final game before the USA traveled to Canada for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. All 10 games between the teams have taken place on U.S. soil even though the USA has played two friendly tournaments in South Korea in its history, but did not meet the hosts at either one.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position (Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Jane Campbell (Houston Dash;1/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 13/0), 1-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 20/0)
DEFENDERS (6): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 9/0), 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars: 53/11), 11-Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 1/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC; 101/2), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City; 131/0), 7-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 15/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC, 39/4), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash; 242/97); 20-Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC; 31/5), 3-Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 30/5), 25-McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage, 0/0)
FORWARDS (5): 19-Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC; 55/22), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride: 130/77); 23-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars; 92/43), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign; 125/33), 12-Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 11/3)
Both of the draws between the teams have been 0-0 affairs, the first coming in 2008 during the USA’s post-Olympic tour following the gold medal win in Beijing, and the second was the meeting in 2015 in Harrison, N.J. Besides the game on Thursday, the USA’s most recent win against Korea Republic came in 2013, a 5-0 result at Red Bull Arena. (The teams also played five days before that, a 4-1 U.S. win in Foxborough, Mass.). That match at RBA was a historic night for the USA as forward Abby Wambach became the greatest goal scorer in women’s international soccer as she scored four goals – all in the first half. It was the third strike in the 29th minute that gave her 159 in her career and moved her past former teammate Mia Hamm to become the all-time leader in international goals. Lauren Cheney scored the fifth and final goal in that match.
One Year to Qualifying: The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup that will be contested from June 7-July 7, 2019, in nine cities in France is still on the distant horizon, as is the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament, which will be held about a year from now. The tournament host and teams have not been solidified, but the USA, Canada and Mexico will earn automatic berths into the final eight-team tournament, while the other five nations will have to go through pre-qualifying in their respective regions. From that eight-team tournament, three teams will qualify directly to France while a fourth will enter a two-leg playoff against the third-place team from South America. With just four games left on the 2017 schedule, the USA is focused squarely on the end-goal of 2018, a place among the 24 teams in France.
Milestones: On Sept. 15, defender Kelley O’Hara started and captained the USA against New Zealand to earn her 100th cap, becoming the 36th player in U.S. WNT history to play 100 or more times for her country. O’Hara debuted as a forward for the USA in 2010 against Mexico in San Diego and switched to playing primarily defender in 2012 when she played a key role in the USA winning the Olympic gold medal in London. While O’Hara reached her 100th cap last month, there is another player on the roster who is now approaching a milestone of her own and could reach it this upcoming camp. U.S. co-captain Carli Lloyd is the two-time reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. She is the all-time active caps leader with 243 and is sitting on 97 goals, three away from becoming the sixth player to score 100 or more goals for the USA, and the first since 2009 when Abby Wambach scored her 100th.
Heath, Smith and Pugh Out with Injuries, Sullivan Returns to the Farm: Forward Tobin Heath (ankle) and defender Taylor Smith (shoulder) had to withdraw from training camp prior to its start after suffering injuries in the NWSL Championship match on Saturday, Oct. 14. Forward Mallory Pugh injured her hamstring at the end of the first half of the USA’s 3-1 victory against South Korea on Oct. 19 in New Orleans and did not travel to North Carolina with the team. In addition, midfielder Andi Sullivan, who saw her first WNT action in almost a year when she played the first half against Korea on Oct. 19, has returned to Stanford to play in her college game this weekend.
Zerboni Gets Nod: North Carolina Courage midfielder McCall Zerboni, who plays her club’s home games at Sahlen’s Stadium where the USA will face South Korea on Oct. 22, has been called up to give the USA 19 players on the roster, of which 18 will suit up for the match. This is the first WNT call-up for the 30-year-old Zerboni, who has played for seven different professional clubs in the USA during the WPS and the NWSL. Zerboni has played a crucial role in her club's success over the past two seasons while partnering in the center midfield with Samantha Mewis. Zerboni helped the Western New York Flash to the NWSL league title in 2016 and after the club moved to North Carolina for this season, helped the Courage win the NWSL Shield and earn a place in the championship game. She was named to the 2017 NWSL Best XI. She played her college soccer at UCLA and was a member of the USA's Youth National Teams as a teenager.
Consistent Starters: Only two players this year have started every game the USA has played so far: Samantha Mewis and Becky Sauerbrunn. Mewis has played 980 minutes so far, the most besides Becky Sauerbrunn’s 1,035. Mewis has 30 caps, has started all 13 matches and scored her fifth WNT goal against Brazil on July 30, tying the score at 1-1 with a grass-cutter from outside the penalty area. U.S. co-captain Sauerbrunn had her sixth career assist on Christen Press’s goal against Norway on June 11. With 131 caps, Sauerbrunn has moved ahead of Alex Morgan into 24th place on the all-time caps list (tied with Aly Wagner). She is one of 28 female players to play 125 or more times for the USA.
NWSL Championship: On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Portland Thorns defeated the North Carolina Courage, 1-0, to claim their second NWSL title and first since the league’s inaugural season in 2013. Lindsey Horan scored the game’s lone goal. Horan and Tobin Heath started and played all 90 minutes for the Thorns, while Long entered in stoppage time to help close out the win. On North Carolina’s side, Abby Dahlkemper, Samantha Mewis, Taylor Smith, Lynn Williams and McCall Zerboni all started the match.
Success for Club and Country for Morgan: Alex Morgan comes into the match on Sunday with 78 goals after moving past Cindy Parlow into sole possession of seventh place on the USA’s all-time goal scoring list. She scored three goals during the September matches and this past Thursday, and has now scored in her last four games for the U.S.
Morgan also ended her NWSL season on a scoring streak, scoring nine goals in her last 12 games for the Orlando Pride. In August, she was directly involved in nine of the 13 goals scored by Orlando and scored in all five matches, which earned her the NWSL Player of the Month recognition. She finished the season with nine goals (tied for fifth in the league with Lynn Williams) and four assists in 14 games (including the playoff semifinal) after rejoining the Pride midseason following a successful spell with French club Olympique Lyonnais that saw her win both a league title and the 2017 UEFA Women's Champions League. U.S. WNT’s Alex Morgan Continues Goal Scoring Streak.
South Korea Continues Road to France 2019: South Korea took a huge step towards earning a spot at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup when it won its group at the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Qualifying tournament. At that qualifying tournament, South Korea and North Korea tied 1-1 and both defeated Uzbekistan by 4-0 scores. That meant that winning the group and earning a berth to the final qualifying tournament came down to the goals scored against India and Hong Kong. South Korea beat Hong Kong 6-0 while North Korea beat them 5-0 and South Korea beat India 10-0 while North Korea beat them 8-0, which accounted for the three-goal difference which eventually sent South Korea to the final round of the 2018 Asian Cup, while North Korea, which won both the U-17 and U-20 FIFA Women’s World Cups in 2016, will not be participating in the next World Cup.
Korea Republic will now compete in the final eight-team 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup tournament that will be held in Jordan and will serve as the final World Cup qualifying tournament for France 2019. At that tournament, the top five teams will punch their tickets to the main event. The teams competing will be: Host Jordan, Japan, Australia, China PR, Korea Republic, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. READ: Five Things About Korea Republic.
In New Orleans and Cary: The U.S. WNT last played in New Orleans in the final game of 2015, which was also the farewell game for U.S. legend Abby Wambach, a 1-0 loss to China PR. The USA’s only other match in Louisiana was in New Orleans in July of 2003, a 1-0 victory against Brazil. The U.S. WNT will be playing its seventh game all-time at WakeMed Soccer Park, now named after long-time women’s soccer supporter Joe Sahlen, who owned the Western New York Flash in the NWSL before selling the club as it moved to North Carolina and became the Courage for the 2017 season. The Flash won the NWSL title in 2016. The USA has won all six previous games played at the venue.