PREVIEW: USWNT Returns To Action Against The Netherlands
The U.S. Women’s National Team will return to the game action for the first time in 261 days when it faces reining European champions Netherlands on Friday, Nov. 27.
Coveraged of Netherlands-USA from Rat Verlegh Stadium in Breda, the Netherlands begins at 12:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. local on ESPN2 & TUDN. Fans will also be able to follow the action via Twitter (@USWNT), Instagram (@USWNT), Facebook and the official U.S. Soccer App.
Friday’s game will be the ninth meeting all-time between the teams, with the USA holdig a 7-1-0 advantage in the series. The USA and Netherlands will be forever linked in women’s soccer history after meeting in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on July 7, 2019 in Lyon, France. The USA won 2-0 to lift its fourth World Cup trophy on goals from forward Megan Rapinoe, via a penalty kick, and a brilliant solo run and strike from midfielder Rose Lavelle. The match will mark 509 days since the World Cup Final and is the USA’s first match abroad since that historic game. The USA is still ranked #1 in the world. The Netherlands is #4 following its run to the World Cup Final.
Due to the current conditions related to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the match will be conducted under the UEFA Return to Play Protocols and be played without fans in the stadium.
Carrying a roster that features both World Cup champions and players in search of their first caps, head coach Vlatko Andonovski and the WNT will be looking to close the year on a strong note in what will be the team’s final match of 2020. The USA is 8-0-0 on the year, but has not played a competitive match since winning the SheBelieves Cup on March 11.
USA Detailed Roster By Position (Club; Caps/Goals)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit; 0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 63)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 1/0), Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 61/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 26/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 104/24), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 131/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 177/0), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride; 45/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 102/20), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 0/0), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 45/12), Catarina Macario (Stanford; 0/0), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 15/1), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 67/18)
FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Tobin Heath (Manchester United, ENG; 168/33), Alex Morgan (Tottenham Hotspur, ENG; 169/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 138/58), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 28/9)
MATCH VS. DUTCH WRAPS UP UNUSUAL 2020: This game will mark the final one for the USWNT in a strange, stressful and highly unusual 2020, but the fact that U.S. Soccer and the Royal Dutch Football Federation teamed up to stage the match is a positive in itself. As it did for its October training camp, the first training action for the team since the SheBelieves Cup, the U.S. delegation has operated inside a highly controlled environment with all players and staff getting tested before travel, upon and arrival and every two days thereafter. The USA comes into the game with an 8-0-0 record in 2020 after having swept all five games at last January’s Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying tournament and then winning all three games at the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. The USA will play nine total games in 2020, its fewest in a calendar year since 2009, when the team went 7-0-1.
GETTING THE BAND BACK TOGETHER: The USA’s October training camp in Colorado did not feature any players currently playing their trade in Europe, but for this training camp, which will be a short one with only six days of training opportunities before the match, U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski has called in seven players who have been playing for clubs in Europe. The roster includes 14 players currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League, seven who have been playing in Europe and two college players. Fifteen of the players named to the roster attended the USA’s most recent training camp held in late October in Commerce City, Colorado. Of the eight players on this roster who did not participate in the USA’s October training camp in Colorado, seven were a part of the 2019 Women’s World Cup champions. That group includes 2019 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Julie Ertz and a trio of England-based forwards in Tobin Heath (Manchester United), Alex Morgan (Tottenham Hotspur) and Christen Press (Manchester United) who have accounted for a combined 198 international goals. Midfielders Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis return to the roster after helping Manchester City win the Women’s FA Cup on Nov. 1 and Orlando Pride defender Emily Sonnett returns after ending her loan spell in Sweden by helping Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC win the Damallsvenskan title.
WELCOME BACK, ALEX: Forward Alex Morgan has returned to U.S. camp for the first time since the USA’s post-World Cup Victory Tour, but has not played in a match for the USA since the 2019 Women’s World Cup Final, setting up the scenario in which her last game before giving birth to her first child, a daughter Charlie on May 7, and her first game as a mom, could be against the Netherlands. It would be her first cap under Vlatko Andonovski. Morgan returned to the field for the first time since giving birth in a 20-minute substitute appearance for Tottenham Hotspur on Nov. 8, played 45 minutes in her first start on Nov. 14 and played 45 minutes off the bench in a Continental Cup match on Nov. 18. One of the most prolific strikers in USWNT history, Morgan has 107 career goals and with one more, will pass the great Michelle Akers for sole possession of fifth all-time in U.S. history.
If she plays, Morgan will become the 12th player to appear for the U.S. Women’s National Team after becoming a mother. Joy Fawcett was the first and Jessica McDonald is the most recent mom to play for the USA. The complete list of USWNT Ultimate Soccer Moms features: Fawcett, Shannon Boxx, Stephanie Cox, Tina Ellertson, Danielle Fotopoulos, Sydney Leroux, current USWNT GM Kate Markgraf, 2019 Women’s World Cup champion McDonald, Carla Overbeck, Christie Pearce and Amy Rodriguez.
SISTER, SISTER: With both Kristie (29-years-old) and Samantha Mewis (28) on the USA roster, this is the first time sisters have been on a USWNT roster since the 2014 Algarve Cup, which also featured both Mewis sisters. Kristie has 15 career caps and one goal (scoring memorably against the Korea Republic in her home state of Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium in 2013) but has not played for the USWNT since March of 2014 at that Algarve Cup. The Mewis sisters are just the second pair of sisters to play for the U.S. Women’s National Team following twins Lorrie and Ronnie Fair who were on the team together in the late 1990s. The Mewis sisters have played in two matches together, both at the 2014 Algarve Cup. They came into their first game together on March 7, 2014, against Sweden, which was Sam’s first cap, and then started their only game together thus far on March 10, 2014, vs. Denmark. If they play in one more game together, they will surpass Lori and Ronnie Fair for the most games played together as sisters. Lorrie and Ronnie played twice together in 1997.
USA Roster Notes
Defender Becky Sauerbrunn is the most experienced player on the training camp roster with 177 caps. The other players on the roster with over 100 caps are forwards Alex Morgan (169), Tobin Heath (168) and Christen Press (138), midfielder Julie Ertz (102) and defenders Kelley O’Hara (131) and Crystal Dunn (104).
Eleven players on the roster have 28 caps or less. The average caps per player on this training camp roster is 62.
Of the 17 players from the October training camp in Colorado who were not on the 2019 World Cup Team, eight made this training camp roster: Goalkeepers Jane Campbell and Aubrey Bledsoe, defender Margaret Purce, midfielders Jaelin Howell, Kristie Mewis and Catarina Macario and forwards Williams, Smith, Ashley Hatch.
Three players will come into training camp looking for their first senior team caps in 20-year-old Smith, 21-year-old Howell and 29-year-old goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe.
While the USA hasn’t played since March, it is notable that ten players have scored so far for the USA in 2020: Lindsey Horan (7), Christen Press (7), Samantha Mewis (4), Lynn Williams (3), Rose Lavelle (2), Carli Lloyd (2), Jessica McDonald (2), Tobin Heath, Megan Rapinoe and Julie Ertz. Of those 10, six are on this roster.
The USA is riding a 31-game unbeaten streak and have scored two or more goals in 27 of those games.
In just his seventh event as head coach, Vlatko Andonovski has already looked at 56 different players in a training camp environment. Of those 56 players, 26 have earned at least one cap. Andonovski has given 16 players their first senior team call-ups and so far, two players their first senior team caps (Alana Cook and Margaret Purce).
The roster features five NWSL No. 1 overall draft picks in Crystal Dunn (2014), Emily Sonnett (2016), Rose Lavelle (2017), Tierna Davidson (2019) and Sophia Smith (2020).
The USWNT is unbeaten in its last 14 matches in all competitions against European nations, winning the last 12 in a row by an aggregate score of 32-5. The last European nation to beat USA was France in January of 2019 in Le Havre.
U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski is 10-0-0 in his first 10 games (two at the end of 2019 and eight so far this year), tying a record for best start for a head coach in USWNT history. A victory against Netherlands would break the tie with Pia Sundhage for the best start for any head coach in USWNT history. In 2008, Sundhage won her first 10 games as USA head coach before playing Canada to a 1-1 draw in the 2008 Concacaf Olympic Qualifying Tournament Final. The USA claimed the title on penalty kicks, 6-5.
Of Andonovski’s first 11 games (counting the Netherlands), six will have been against teams ranked in the top-13 in the world.
In Focus: Netherlands
Royal Dutch Football Federation
FIFA World Ranking: 4
UEFA Ranking: 2
Olympic Appearances: 1 (2021)
Best Olympic finish: N/A
Record vs. USA: 1-7-0
Head Coach: Sarina Wiegman
Netherlands Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lize Kop (Ajax), Sari van Veenendaal (PSV), Daphne van Domselaar (FC Twente)
DEFENDERS (8): Stefanie van der Gragt (Ajax), Dominique Janssen (Wolfsburg, GER), Kika van Es (Twente), Merel van Dongen (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Danique Kerkdijk (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Aniek Nouwen (PSV), Lynn Wilms (Twente)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sherida Spitse (Vålerenga, NOR), Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal, ENG), Jackie Groenen (Manchester United, ENG), Inessa Kaagman (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Victoria Pelova (Ajax)
FORWARDS (8): Lieke Martens (Barcelona, ESP), Shanice van de Sanden (Wolfsburg, GER), Lineth Beerensteyn (Bayern Munich, GER), Renate Jansen (Twente), Sisca Folkertsma (Twente), Katja Snoeijs (Bordeaux, FRA), Jill Roord (Arsenal, ENG), Joëlle Smits (PSV)
The USA and the Netherlands have met eight times previously with the USA holding a 7-1-0 record. The teams have played just three times in the past 14 years: on April 9, 2013 in The Hauge, on Sept. 18, 2016 in Atlanta, Ga. and the World Cup Final.
This will be the third time the U.S. Women have played in the Netherlands. The most recent match took place on April 9, 2013, in The Hague, a 3-1 U.S. victory. Tobin Heath had one goal and Christen Press had two in that match. They were the fifth and sixth international goals for Press, who now has 58.
The Dutch bring an experience side to Friday’s match, with 12 players with 40 or more caps and three with over 100: van Donk (107), Martens (116) and Spitse (180).
Of the 14 players who played for the Dutch in the World Cup Final, nine are on this roster.
The Netherlands will be without one of its star forwards in Arsenal star Vivianne Miedema, who has a hip injury. At the age of 24, she has scored a remarkable 71 goals in 90 games for the Dutch.
Of the 23 players on the Netherlands’ roster, 12 play outside of the Netherlands, with a strong contingent of five in England, two in Spain, three in Germany, one Norway and one in France.
Of the 11 domestic-based players, three play for Ajax, three play for PSV, and five play for FC Twente, which are the top three teams currently in the Women’s Eredivisie, respectively.
Netherlands qualified for the next UEFA Women’s Euros by routing Estonia 7-0 at home on Oct. 23. After a 6-0 win over Kosovo on Oct. 27, head coach Sarina Wiegman’s side sits atop their group with a maximum of 27 points from nine matches, earning their spot at the Euros in England, which were originally scheduled to be played in the summer of 2021. Due to COVID and the postponement of the Olympics to 2021, the UEFA Women’s Euros will be played July 6-31, 2022.
At the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Netherlands took down Japan in the Round of 16, upstart Italy in the quarterfinal and Sweden AET in the semifinal, before meeting the USA in the championship game.
By virtue of its second-place finish at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Netherlands qualified for its first Olympics Games
The Netherlands established itself as a world power by winning the 2017 UEFA Women’s Euros on home soil
Head coach Sarina Wiegman, who was recently named to the seven-person shortlist for The Best FIFA Women’s Coach 2020, will coach the will coach the Netherlands through the Olympics next summer before taking over as the head coach of England. Wiegman played college soccer in the USA at the University of North Carolina and earned 104 caps representing the Netherlands as a player.