The U.S. Women’s National Team will open its 2018 schedule on Jan. 21 (4:30 p.m. PT; ESPN) against 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO runners-up Denmark in San Diego, California. Here are five things to know about The Red and White:
USA vs. Denmark History
The two teams have played each other 24 times in their history and the U.S. WNT is 16-5-3 all-time against Denmark, which is currently ranked 13th in the world. Heading into the WNT’s 33rd year of competition, the match will mark the 24th time the U.S. has started the year against a European nation, and the third time that nation has been Denmark. Both previous matches were outside the USA, in Cyprus in 1993 and in Portugal in 2009.
The U.S. WNT has scored at least two goals against Denmark in the last six matches between the teams, but it will also be the first meeting since March of 2014 at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, a 5-3 loss for the USA, which set the record for most goals allowed by a U.S. WNT in a single match.
Danish Dynamite Excite at 2017 Women’s EURO
Denmark comes into 2018 after having one of its most successful years in its Women’s National Team history, finishing as the runners-up of the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro. One of 16 teams to qualify for Europe’s most prestigious tournament, Denmark was drawn into Group A alongside hosts – and eventual Euro Champion Netherlands – Belgium and Norway.
Denmark advanced out of the group stage in second place by defeating Belgium, 1-0, losing to Netherlands 1-0, and defeating Norway, 1-0. In the knockout stage, Denmark earned a legendary result in ending Germany's 22-year reign as champions of Europe with a 2-1 win over the defending Olympic champions in the quarterfinal. It was just Germany's third loss in a Euro tournament since 1993.
In the semifinal, Denmark and Austria tied 0-0 after regulation and the match remained scoreless after 30 minutes of extra time, necessitating a shootout to determine a finalist. The Danes came out victorious with a 3-0 win in penalty kicks, setting up a championship game clash with host Holland.
The highly entertaining final game provided a breath of fresh air for European women’s soccer as it was the first time both nations had gotten that far in a European championship. A wild first half ended at 2-2, but the Dutch scored two more goals after the break for the eventual 4-2 victory that sent their soccer-mad country into a frenzy.
Algarve Cup History
The U.S. and Denmark have played each other 24 times and almost half of those have been at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The first meeting between in Portugal came in on 1995 (and 2-0 U.S. loss) and since the turn of the century, out of the 13 games between the USA and Denmark, 10 took place at the Algarve Cup between the years 2000-2014.
In those 10 games, the U.S. amassed a 9-1-0 record with the only loss coming in the most recent game between the teams in 2014. The USA played Denmark in the championship game of the Algarve Cup in back-to-back years in 2007 and 2008, with the Americans winning 2-0 and 2-1, respectively.
2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualification – UEFA Group 4
Qualification for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Europe is underway and Denmark, which was drawn into Group 4 with Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine, Croatia and Hungary is looking to qualify for its first World Cup since 2007.
In European qualification, 35 teams (the 30 highest-ranked teams and five preliminary round qualifiers) were drawn into seven groups of five teams each. Each group plays a home-and-away round-robin format with the seven group winners qualifying directly for 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup while the four best runners-up advance to the playoffs.
Denmark has played two games and won both so far, but had to forfeit its match against Sweden due to a conflict with their Federation, which has since been resolved. The Danes received a “suspended ban” for pulling out of the game, but still have five more matches to secure a berth to France with the next qualifier taking place on April 9 against Ukraine.
Denmark’s Unique Talisman: Nadia Nadim
USA fans will likely think of one name when it comes to the Denmark Women’s National Team: Nadia Nadim. The dynamic and charismatic forward was a member of the Portland Thorns 2017 NWSL Championship squad before moving to England and Manchester City following the season.
Nadim’s journey is a fascinating one filled with heartbreak, perseverance and ultimately success. Born in Herat, Afghanistan in 1988, Nadim was 10 years old when her father, a general in the Afghan Army, was killed by the Taliban. With bleak prospects for a family of six women, Nadim, her mother and her four sisters fled to Denmark.
While Nadim had to learn to adapt to the countless cultural differences between the two countries, one that changed her life was the ability for girls to play soccer. With the opportunity to play for a club, her career began to blossom. She played for various clubs for more than a decade before coming to the U.S. and joining Sky Blue FC in 2014 and then eventually joining the Portland Thorns FC in January of 2016. In 2016, she finished as the Thorns top scorer with nine goals in 20 games as the team won the 2016 NWSL Shield. In 2017, she appeared in 18 matches, scoring six goals and recording four assists.
She attained Danish citizenship in 2008 and in 2009 made her National Team debut on March 4, 2009 against the United States at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, a 2-0 U.S. win. She became the first naturalized Dane (male or female), to earn a cap. She now has earned 75 caps and scored 22 goals, sitting in 10th place on the all-time scorers list for the National Team.
Nadim, soccer’s renaissance woman, speaks nine languages and is currently undergoing studies in medical school at Aarhus University in Denmark.