After almost two years of preparation during this cycle – a period that included experiments with lineups and formations, a healthy dose of player vetting and some excellent results over the past year – the most important test for the U.S. Women’s National Team is officially less than two months away.
The 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship, which serves as the World Cup qualifying tournament for this region, will determine three teams that will qualify directly to France to compete in next summer’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The fourth-place finisher will enter a two-game home-and-away playoff against Argentina for a final spot.
The USA will learn its first-round qualifying opponents when the Final Draw is conducted at 10 a.m. ET on Sept. 4. Fans can watch on Concacaf.com, Univision Deportes and Fox Sports in the United States, and Yahoo Sports in Mexico and Central America.
The U.S. Women do know they will play their group games on Oct. 4, 7 and 10 at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. U.S. head coach Jill Ellis and her staff will choose 20 players for the final qualifying roster.
But before the USA makes its way to Cary , the team will take on an unfamiliar opponent when first-time World Cup qualifier Chile comes to California later this month.
“Our team is in a good place coming off the Tournament of Nations and this is a great time to get two games against a country that has already qualified for the World Cup,” U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis said.
The pair of friendly matches vs. Chile will take place on August 31, Presented by Volpi (8pm PT; ESPN2) at StubHub Center, and then on Sept. 4 (7pm PT; ESPN2) at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.
CHILE PRESENTS NEW CHALLENGE
It doesn’t happen very often that the U.S. WNT faces a country it has never played before, but the two matches against Chile will be the first games between the countries. Chile is the fourth South American team the USA has faced in its history – along with Brazil (35 games), Colombia (6) and Argentina (3) – and it will be the 52nd country the U.S. women have faced in full international competition.
“We’ve never played them before, but their style of play will be helpful in our final preparations for World Cup qualifiers,” Ellis said. “Our players are obviously deep into the chase for NWSL playoff spots, and they are coming off some intense games, so this will be a good chance to get the group together and share playing time before we come back together in October.”
Chile was a surprise qualifier to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, finishing second behind Brazil in the Final Stage of the 2018 Copa América Femenina, which it hosted last April, to earn its first FIFA Women’s World Cup berth. It played in front of large and boisterous crowds on home soil and emphatically clinched its spot in France with a 4-0 victory against Argentina.