Five Things to Know About AustraliaHydrated by BioSteel
The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its third and final group stage match of the 2020 Olympics on July 27, taking on Australia in an all-important Group G showdown at Kashima Soccer Stadium. The match kicks off at 5:00 p.m. local/4:00 a.m. ET and will be available for viewing in the United States on the USA Network and Telemundo, with streams also available through NBCOlympics.com and the Telemundo Deportes App.
With both teams entering the final match day on three points, the meeting with the Matildas in Kashima will be pivotal in determining the finishing order within the group and possible placement in the knockout rounds. Though level on points, the USA sits second in the group with a superior goal differential (plus-2 compared to minus-1 for Australia), meaning the U.S. can finish no worse than second in the group with a win or draw. The top two teams from each group as well as the top-two third place teams advance to the knockout stages.
Here are Five Things to Know about Australia.
LAST TIME OUT
Australia is looking to rebound following a 4-2 defeat to Sweden on Saturday evening in Saitama. The Swedes opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a goal by Fridolina Rolfo, but the Matlidas responded and tied the match before halftime off a Sam Kerr header in the 36th minute.
Australia would take the lead just minutes into the second half as Kerr tallied her second goal of the game and third of the tournament with another stellar header, but Sweden would score three unanswered goals to win the match, 4-2 and clinch its spot in the knockout round with six points through two matches. In the 69th minute with Australia trailing 3-2, Kerr had an opportunity to tie the match from the penalty spot, but her attempt was saved by Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Sweden outshot Australia, 10-5, though the Matlidas had a 5-4 advantage on corners.
Australia opened the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a 2-1 victory over arch-rivals New Zealand on July 21 at Tokyo Stadium. Australia started the match on the front foot and opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a goal by Tameka Yallop and doubled its advantage in the 33rdwhenKerr headed in a corner kick from Steph Catley. New Zealand pulled one back in the 91st minute, but the Matildas held on to take all three points and outshot New Zealand, 16-5, on the night with a 10-1 advantage on corner kicks.
INSIDE THE ROSTER
Clare Polkinghorne, who had stints with both the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash in the NWSL, is the most-capped player on Australia’s 22-player Olympic roster, with 131 appearances. Elise Kellond-Knight (113) and Emily van Egmond (104) are the only other two players on the roster in the 100-cap club, though seven other players – Kyah Simon (97 caps), Kerr (95), Alanna Kennedy (94), Yallop (92), Lydia Williams (91), Caitlin Foord (89) and Catley (87) all have over 80 international appearances.
With 45 international goals in 95 caps, Kerr is the leading scorer on the Matildas roster and needs just three goals to pass Lisa De Vanna to become the all-time leading scorer in Australia Women’s National Team history. With a goal and three assists, Kerr has been directly involved in every goal Australia has scored so far at Tokyo 2020 and her three goals are tied for the fourth-most by any player in the tournament through the first two match days.
One of the top strikers in the world, Kerr remains the all-time leading scorer in the NWSL even though she transferred to Chelsea in 2019 and is now one of the top attackers in the Women’s Super League.
Simon (26 goals in 97 caps), van Egmond (23 goals in 104 caps) and Foord (20 goals in 89 caps) are also proven threats on the attack and all, like many of the players on Australia’s roster, have at one time or another played in the NWSL, though only one is this season in Logarzo, who is with Kansas City.
Four players on the roster have fewer than 10 caps, including goalkeeper Teagan Micah, who started in Saturday’s group stage loss to Sweden in what was just her third senior level international appearance.
AUSTRALIA OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Lydia Williams (Arsenal, ENG), 18-Teagan Micah (Sandviken, NOR), 22-Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United, ENG)
DEFENDERS (7): 4-Clare Polkinghorne (Vittsjo GIK, SWE), 14-Alanna Kennedy (Tottenham, ENG), 7-Steph Catley (Arsenal, ENG), 12-Ellie Carpenter (Lyon, FRA), 19-Courtney Nevin (Western Sydney Wanderers), 20-Charlotte Grant (Rosengard, Sweden), 21-Laura Brock (Guingamp, FRA)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 3-Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), 5-Aivi Luik (Sevilla, ESP), 6-Chloe Logarzo (Kansas City, USA), 8-Elise Kellond-Knight (Hammarby, SWE), 10-Emily van Egmond (Unattached), 13-Tameka Yallop (West Ham United, ENG)
FORWARDS (6): 2-Sam Kerr (Chelsea, ENG), 9-Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, ENG), 11-Mary Fowler (Montpellier, FRA), 15-Emily Gielnik (Vittsjo GIK, SWE), 16-Hayley Raso (Everton, ENG), 17-Kyah Simon (PSV, NED)
SERIES HISTORY: USA vs. AUSTRALIA
The USA has played Australia 30 times overall, with three previous meetings at world championship events. The sides drew, 1-1, in a group stage match at the 2004 Olympics in Athens in their only previous matchup at the Olympics and also squared off in the group stage at two World Cups – a 4-1 victory for the USWNT in 1995 and a 3-1 win in the USA’s first match of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Megan Rapinoe scored twice and Christen Press got the third goal.
The USA leads the all-time series between the teams, 26-1-3 and while the two countries first met in 1987, Australia only beat the USA for the first time on June 27, 2018, a 1-0 victory in Seattle, Washington. The teams tied 1-1 on June 29, 2018, in East Hartford, Connecticut, but the USA picked up a rousing win in the most recent meeting, a 5-3 triumph on April 4, 2019, in Commerce City, Colorado. Alex Morgan scored her 100th international goal, Mallory Pugh tallied a brace in front of her hometown crowd, and Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath added goals of their own in a thrilling matchup that also saw the USA erase a 2-1 deficit.
Over its last three games with Australia, the USA has a record of 1-1-1 and all three matches have been decided by two goals or fewer.
THE ROAD TO TOKYO
Australia qualified for the Tokyo Olympics by winning Group B during the third and final round of Asia Football Confederation Qualifying and then defeating Group A runner-up Vietnam, 7-1, on aggregate in the March 2020 playoff series to qualify for the Tokyo Games. Van Egmond has the Matilda’s top scorer in qualifying with five goals, followed by Kerr with four and Foord and Haley Raso with three each.
Tokyo 2020 marks the fourth Olympics for Australia, previously appearing at the 2000, 2004 and 2016 games. After going winless in the group in 2000, Australia reached the quarterfinals in each of its next two appearances, falling to Sweden in the quarterfinals in 2004 and getting eliminated 7-6 on penalty kicks against Brazil in 2016.
While Tokyo marks back-to-back Olympic appearances for Australia, the Matildas have become a mainstay at the World Cup, qualifying for every tournament since 1995and reaching the quarterfinals on three occasions. Australia has already secured a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as co-host nation along with New Zealand.
GUSTAVSSON AT THE HELM
Head coach Tony Gustavsson, who was the assistant coach for the USA under Pia Sundhage in 2012 and under Jill Ellis from 2014-2019, helping the USA win the Olympic gold medal in London and Women’s World Cup titles in 2015 and 2019, was announced as Australia’s head coach in September of 2020. However due to COVID-19 restrictions, he had to wait until April of 2021 to coach his first matches with the team.