On Tuesday, Jan. 22 (2:30 p.m. ET; ESPN2 & UDN), the U.S. WNT will take on Spain for the first time in team history. The match will be played in Alicante, located on the central east coast of Spain. Here are Five Things to Know about this rising women’s soccer nation.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lola Gallardo (Atlético de Madrid), Sandra Paños (FC Barcelona), Sun Quiñones (Real Sociedad)
DEFENDERS (8 ): Ivana Andrés (Levante UD), Marta Carro (Valencia Féminas FC), Celia Jiménez (Seattle Reign SC), Mapi León (FC Barcelona), Leila Ouahabi (FC Barcelona), Andrea Pereira (FC Barcelona), Irene Paredes (PSG), Marta Torrejón (FC Barcelona)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Aitana Bonmatí (FC Barcelona), Marta Corredera (Levante UD), Vicky Losada (FC Barcelona), Silvia Meseguer (Atlético de Madrid), Andrea Sánchez Falcón (Atlético de Madrid), Amanda Sampedro (Atlético de Madrid), Ángela Sosa (Atlético de Madrid), Virginia Torrecilla (Montpellier HSC)
FORWARDS (6): Mariona Caldentey (FC Barcelona), Lucía García (Athletic Club), Nahikari García (Real Sociedad), Jenni Hermoso (Atlético de Madrid), Alexia Putellas (FC Barcelona), Alba Redondo (Fundación Albacete)
Spain is Off to France 2019
Spain qualified for France by easily winning UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying Group 7. It won all eight games against Austria, Finland, Serbia and Israel, outscoring its opponents 25-2 over the eight games. Star Spain striker Jenni Hermoso scored a team-leading seven goals in World Cup qualifying. She is far and away Spain’s top scorer on the roster with 25 career goals. Spain was drawn into perhaps the most competitive group at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and will face South Africa, Germany and China PR, in that order.
Spain, one of the rising women’s soccer nations in Europe, has a young roster with the oldest player being 29 and 17 players 25 or younger. While Spain is young, they are also experienced. They have seven players with 49 or more caps. The U.S. roster has 11 players that falls into that category. Spain opened its 2019 schedule on Jan. 17 in Cartagena, Spain, with a 1-1 draw against Belgium on a 64th minute goal from Alba Redondo. Belgium equalized off a header off a free kick in the 89th minute. Spain made six subs in the game, one of whom was Redondo, and had the majority of the attacking play during the match. Spain rested several of its top player against Belgium, including Hermoso.
U-17 Champions and U-20 Runner Ups
Spain, which is producing some fantastic young players, won the 2018 U-17 Women’s World Cup which was held in Uruguay under a female coach in Antonia Is. The historic triumph came just months after Spain’s U-20 WNT finished second to Japan in that U-20 Women’s World Cup that was held on August in France. One of Spain’s top players of that U-20 Women’s World Cup Team, Patricia Guijarro, was called up for the match vs. the USA but was replaced due to injury. One other player from the U-20 WWC runners-up is on the roster in forward Lucía García.
Spain’s coach, Jorge Vilda, was appointed after the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and has led a renewal for women’s soccer in the country, bringing in new players and new tactics. In 2017, Spain won the Algarve Cup and reached the last eight of the UEFA Women’s Euro while in 2018, Spain won the Cyprus Cup and qualified for its second Women’s World Cup. Vilda came from the youth ranks, coaching highly successful teams at the U-17 and U-19 levels for Spain before taking over the senior side.