The U.S. Women’s National Team will bring its 2018 schedule to a close with two matches in Europe, the first coming against Portugal on Nov. 8 in Lisbon (1 p.m. ET on ESPN2). The USA is coming off a successful run at the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship in which it went 5-0-0, qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup by rolling past Jamaica 6-0 in the semifinal and then defeated Canada, 2-0, in the championship game to claim the regional title.
Here are five things to know about Portugal:
Portugal Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Rute Costa (SC Braga), Inês Pereira (Sporting CP),Patrícia Morais (Sporting CP)
DEFENDERS (6 ): Carole Costa (Sporting CP), Matilde Fidalgo (SC Braga), Diana Gomes (SC Braga), Monique Gonçalves (CA Ouriense), Mónica Mendes (AC Milan, ITA), Sílvia Rebelo (SL Benfica)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Ana Borges (Sporting CP), Vanessa Marques (SC Braga), Andreia Norton (SC Sand, GER), Fátima Pinto (Sporting CP), Tatiana Pinto (Sporting CP), Ana Santos (CA Ouriense), Dolores Silva (Atlético Madrid, ESP)
FORWARDS (7): Telma Encarnação (CS Marítimo), Ana Leite (TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen, GER), Laura Luís (SC Braga), Carolina Mendes (Sporting CP), Cláudia Lima (Valadares Gaia FC), Diana Silva (Sporting CP), Jéssica Silva (Levante UD, ESP)
HISTORY vs. THE USA
The USA is 6-0-0 all-time against Portugal with four of those six meetings taking place at the Algarve Cup, but four of those meetings took place in the 1990s and the teams have not met since 2001, a 2-0 U.S. victory in Silves, Portugal. The two other matches between the USA and Portugal were played in Florida in January of 1999, the latter of which featured Michelle Akers’ 100thcareer goal.
FIRST TIME IN LISBON
Between 1994 and 2015, the USA played 79 matches at twenty Algarve Cup tournaments, all held on the southern coast of Portugal. The USA won the historic tournament 10 times (most recently in 2015), but this will be the USA’s first game in the capital of LisbonThe match against Portugal will be played at Estadio António Coimbra da Mota, the 8,000-seat home to Second Division club G.D. Estoril Praia. The venue is in Estoril, a suburb of Lisbon.
PREP FOR EURO ‘21
Portugal did not qualify for the next summer’s World Cup, finishing third in UEFA Group 6 behind World Cup qualifier Italy and second-place finisher Belgium, which earned a playoff spot (but fell to Switzerland in its semifinal series), and is using these games to prepare for 2021 European Championship qualification, which begins in September of next year. Portugal WNT head coach Francisco Neto had this to say about the upcoming match vs. the USA, which will be followed by two matches vs. Wales: "These three matches with the United States and Wales are very important, as all are until the start of qualifying for the Euro 2021. This is the time to evaluate the players, the training and the games, in order to be strong for the qualifying phase.”
PORTUGAL ON THE RISE
Despite not earning a spot in France 2019, Portugal has had a quality year, splitting a two-game series with Ireland in January, winning 1-0 and losing 3-1, finishing second at a tournament in China after 0-0 ties with Finland and China PR and then finishing third out of 12 teams at its own Algarve Cup in March.
At the Algarve Cup, Portugal defeated China PR, 2-1, on goals from Carolina Mendes and Carole Costa, tied Australia 0-0 and then beat Norway, 2-0, on goals from Claudia Neto and Diana Silva. In the Third-Place match played in terrible weather conditions, Portugal defeated Australia (which is currently ranked sixth in the world) by a 2-1 score on goals from Nadia Gomes, who played with the Orlando Pride last season, and Vanessa Marques.
Portugal head coach Francisco Neto called 23 players for matches over these FIFA dates which will feature the game against the USA as well as games against Wales on Nov. 10 and 13, all in Portugal. Three players are new to the squad in Telma Encarnação, Ana Santos and Monique Gonçalves, who hails from Warren, N.J. and played college soccer at U.S. legend Christie Rampone’s alma mater, Monmouth University. As proof of the growth of women’s soccer in Portugal, there are five players on the roster playing outside the country, two in Germany, two in Spain and one in Italy. The remainder of the roster is spread across six Portuguese clubs, including eight players who play for Sporting and five for SC Braga.