PREVIEW: U.S. WNT Faces Belgium for First Time | April 7 | 6 p.m. PT on ESPN2

U.S. Soccer

After an entertaining 5-3 victory against Australia on April 4 that saw two goals off the bench from Mallory Pugh, and single scores from starting forwards Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe, the U.S. Women’s National Team will play its seventh game of the “Countdown to the Cup” when it takes on Belgium for the first time on Sunday.

The match on April 7 (6 p.m. PT on ESPN2) will also be the first for the WNT at Banc of California, home of LAFC, even though this will be the USA’s 32nd match in Southern California. The USA is 3-1-2 so far in 2019, all against World Cup-bound teams.

2019 Game Lineups || 2019 Statistics

U.S. WNT ROSTER BY POSITION: APRIL FRIENDLIES (CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 20/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 42/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 36/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 18/1); Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 81/24), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride; 98/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 154/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 31/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 78/18), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 65/7), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 24/6), Allie Long (Reign FC; 41/6), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 46/8), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 8/0)
FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 147/28); Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 270/105), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 6/1), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 159/100), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 112/48), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 49/15), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 150/44)

STORYLINES

USA vs. Belgium: The meeting with Belgium will be the first between the teams and will mark the 54th opponent for the USA in its history. This is the second time this year the U.S. has played an opponent they had not previously played, along with Spain in January. Belgium will be the 27th European nation the USA has faced (although four of those countries no long exist).

Honoring 99ers at Halftime: The 1999 U.S. Women's World Cup Team that captured the hearts and minds of a nation during a remarkable summer 20 years ago will be honored at halftime of the USA-Belgium match on April 7. U.S. Soccer invited the entire team to Los Angeles to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team's historic run through the tournament that ended on July 10, 1999, with a dramatic penalty kick victory against China PR as Carla Overbeck, Joy Fawcett, Kristine Lilly, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain – in that order – buried their kicks to send a crowd of 90,125 fans at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and millions more around the USA, into a patriotic frenzy. The crowd is still a record for largest attendance ever to witness a women's soccer match.

In addition, at the invitation of the U.S. Women's National Team Players Association, around 40 other former U.S. WNT players will be in attendance for a weekend that will include various events for the players to reunite and celebrate women's sports and the long-time success of the U.S. Women's National Team ahead of this summer's 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France.

Historic 100th Goal: Alex Morgan returns home (she’s from Diamond Bar, California) after scoring her 100th career goal on April 4, joining an elite club of just six other Americans to have accomplished the feat. Among those 100 goals are some epic and memorable scores, including the fastest goal in U.S. history (12 seconds), which came in Olympic qualifying, the latest goal in FIFA history (123rd minute), which came in the semifinal of the 2012 Olympics, and a goal in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. Of the 100 goals, 58 came with her preferred left foot, 25 with her right, 14 with her head and three with other parts of her body.

Countdown to the Cup: The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be the eighth consecutive World Cup appearance for the USA, which has appeared in each of the previous seven tournaments that have been contested and won in 1991, 1999 and 2015. The USA is one of six countries to qualify for all eight Women’s World Cups along with Brazil, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden and Nigeria. The tournament will be held from June 7-July 7 in nine cities in France. The USA’s Draw and placement in Group F gave the USA venues that are all within a two-hour drive of each other, with the opening game taking place in Reims, followed by Paris and then Le Havre.

COUNTDOWN TO THE CUP

Date

Opponent

Kickoff

Venue; City

April 7

Belgium

6 p.m. PT

Banc of California Stadium; Los Angeles, Calif.

May 12

South Africa – Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods

1:30 p.m. PT

Levi’s Stadium; Santa Clara, Calif.

May 16

New Zealand – Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods

7 p.m. CT

Busch Stadium; St. Louis, Mo.

May 26

Mexico – Send-Off Series, Presented by Volpi Foods

12 p.m. ET

Red Bull Arena; Harrison, N.J.

2019 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP

June 11

Thailand - 2019 WWC

3 p.m. ET

Auguste Delaune Stadium; Reims, France

June 16

Chile – 2019 WWC

12 p.m. ET

Parc des Princes; Paris, France

June 20

Sweden – 2010 WWC

3 p.m. ET

Stade Océane; Le Havre, France

New Rules Get Test Run: In preparation for the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, U.S. Soccer requested and received approval from the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to implement three changes to the Laws of the Game during the tournament. These changes, although not officially instituted until June, will be used for the USA’s April friendly matches. At the 133rd AGM of The IFAB held in Aberdeen, Scotland on March 2, 2019 these changes (as well as additional changes) were approved to the Laws of the Game for 2019/20:

  •  A player being substituted must leave the field of play at the nearest point on the boundary line.
  • Yellow and red cards for misconduct can be issued to team officials.
  • On a goal kick and a free kick for the defending team in their own penalty area, the ball is in play as soon as the kick is taken so a player – or opponent as long as they started outside the penalty or were not given the proper time to exit the penalty – can play the ball before it leaves the penalty area.

Follow all the #USWNT action on Twitter using@uswnt and on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat (ussoccer_wnt).

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