Preview: USWNT Returns to Action Against ParaguayWatch USA-Paraguay on Thursday, September 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The U.S. Women’s National Team returns to the field for its first action following the Tokyo Olympics, hosting Paraguay on Thursday, September 16 at Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. The match will be broadcast on ESPN2 with coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET. Official kickoff is slated for 7:38 p.m. ET.
The first match in a two-game series with Paraguay, Thursday’s game will be the first official competition for the USA since winning bronze at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan. The USWNT defeated Australia, 4-3, on August 5 to win bronze and claim the USA’s sixth medal in seven Olympic appearances. The USA has now medaled in 14 of its 15 all-time appearances at world championship events – winning eight times (four World Cups and four Olympics), finishing runner-up twice (2011 World Cup and 2000 Olympics) and taking bronze on four occasions (three at the World Cup and once at the Olympics.
Thursday’s match against Paraguay also marks the USA’s first home match since beating Mexico 4-0 on July 5 in the final game of the Send-Off Series, which extended the USWNT’s home win streak to 20 matches in a row.
USWNT DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 5), Adrianna Franch (Kansas City NWSL; 8)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (Houston Dash; 74/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 39/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 122/24), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 35/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 145/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 193/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 58/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 104/23), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 62/15), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 8/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 28/4), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 17/0)
FORWARDS (6): Tobin Heath (Arsenal, ENG; 177/35), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 312/128), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 186/111), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 63/18), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 6/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 40/12)
All 22 players from the 2020 Olympic Team were invited for the two matches against Paraguay, but due to injuries, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski called up three players who were not on the Olympic Team -- Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan, Portland Thorns forward Sophia Smith and Chicago Red Stars forward Mallory Pugh. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, midfielders Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis and forward Megan Rapinoe will not play in these two matches due to injuries. Naeher and Mewis will join the team during this international window for evaluation and rehabilitation. Forward Christen Press will not be on the roster as she opted out of the matches.
2023 WORLD CUP ON THE HORIZON
With COVID-19 delaying the Olympics, there is now less than a year until the start of qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be co-hosted in Australia and New Zealand beginning in July of 2023. The Concacaf qualifying tournament is scheduled to take place in July of 2022, with the top four teams guaranteeing their spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Two more Concacaf representatives will advance to a 10-team intercontinental play-off to determine the final teams in the expand 32-team field for 2023.
Also new this cycle is the qualifying format for Concacaf itself. On August 19, the confederation announced the qualifying path to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which is now also the path to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris and, for a few teams, the newly instituted 2024 W Gold Cup. The newly dubbed 2021 Concacaf W Qualifiers will begin for all teams -- except the USA and Canada -- during the FIFA Women’s Match Windows in November 2021 and April 2022 and will serve as the preliminary round of the 2022 Concacaf W Championship. The eight team Concacaf W Championship will be held in July 2022 and will consist of group play, followed by semifinal and championship rounds. Along with qualifying for the World Cup, at conclusion of the Concacaf W Championship, the winning nation will also guarantee its place in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games Women’s Football Tournament and the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup. The runner-up and the third-place nations will progress to a Concacaf Olympic play-in to be played in September of 2023. The winner of the play-in will also guarantee their place in the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games and the 2024 W Gold Cup.
INSIDE THE SERIES: USA vs. PARAGUAY
The matches in Cleveland and Cincinnati will be the first ever meetings between the USWNT and Paraguay at the senior level.
The USA and Paraguay have squared off previously at the youth levels, playing once in the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and twice in the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup. Current USWNT players Crystal Dunn and Kristie Mewis played against Paraguay at the 2008 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, a 3-1 U.S. victory. Kristie Mewis captained the squad while younger sister Samantha Mewis was an unused sub in that match.
In the USA’s 6-1 victory over Paraguay at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, forward Sophia Smith came off the bench in the second half. Three years later at the 2019 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, Smith started and scored twice in the USA’s 6-0 win over.
Paraguay is also the 54th different country the USA has faced in its almost 36-year history.
#THANKYOUCARLI – LAST MATCHES FOR LLOYD
The four games will be the final matches in a U.S. uniform for USWNT legend Carli Lloyd, who will play her Farewell Match on Oct. 26 in Minnesota. Lloyd is currently the second-most capped player in world soccer history with 312 games played for the USA and has scored 128 international goals, fourth in USWNT history and tied for fifth all-time in world history. She needs two goals to tie Kristine Lilly for third all-time on the U.S. list and one more goal to move ahead of former German great Birgit Prinz on the world list.
Following the Oct. 26 match, Lloyd will have at least one more NWSL game to play before she hangs up her boots for good as NJ/NY Gotham FC finishes the regular season on Oct. 30 by hosting Racing Louisville at Red Bull Arena.
BACK IN THE BUCKEYE STATE
The upcoming games against Paraguay in Cleveland and Cincinnati mark the 20th and 21st games, respectively, that the USA has played in the state of Ohio. The USWNT has an overall record of 16-1-2 in matches played in the Buckeye State, having played matches in Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Mansfield. The USA is 4-0-0 all-time when playing in Cleveland, most recently beating China PR, 2-1, on June 12, 2018 at FirstEnergy Stadium. Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath each scored for the USA in the victory.
SUCCESS ON HOME SOIL
The USA enters the matches against Paraguay on a 58-game home unbeaten streak which includes 53 wins and five draws. During this home unbeaten streak, the USA has outscored its opponents 204-27, including a 74-3 margin during its last 20 matches at home, all of which have been wins. The USWNT's 20-game home winning streak dates back to a 3-2 win over Sweden on November 7, 2019, which was also Vlakto Andonovski’s first match in charge of the USWNT.
The 20-game home win streak is also tied for the second-longest such streak in program history and
is the team's longest since a 20-game home winning streak that spanned from October 2005 to October 2007. The USA's longest home winning streak was 23 games and spanned from April 1993 to February 1996.
The USA is scheduled to play its final home matches of 2021 during the October international window against Korea Republic. The first match will be on Thursday, Oct. 21, at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and TUDN) before the USA travels to St. Paul, Minnesota to complete that two-game series at Allianz Field on Tuesday, Oct. 26 (7:30 p.m. ET pre-game on FS1 and 8 p.m. ET on TUDN).
U.S. Soccer is planning on a November trip to Australia for the USWNT that would feature two matches in and around Sydney on Nov. 27 and 30 that would be played under strict COVID-19 protocols, provided proper approvals from the Australia government are in place to allow the U.S. team to enter the country and train and play in a highly controlled environment. More information on the possible confirmation of these matches will hopefully be available in the coming weeks.
2021 USWNT MEDIA GUIDE
The 2021 U.S. Women’s National Team Media Guide is available for download. The Media Guide features all the history and statistics of the USWNT, as well as full bios on technical staff and the current top players, information on the USA’s Youth National Teams, and general important information on U.S. Soccer.
USA ROSTER NOTES
As she enters her final four games in a U.S. uniform, Lloyd is by far the most experienced player on the roster with 312 caps and now has the second-most ever caps in USWNT history as she has moved past Christie Pearce Rampone (311). The next most experienced player on this roster -- defender Becky Sauerbrunn – is 119 caps behind her with 193.
The other players on the roster with over 100 caps are forwards Alex Morgan (186) and Tobin Heath (177), defenders Kelley O’Hara (145) and Crystal Dunn (121) and midfielder Lindsey Horan (103). Horan joined the 100-cap club on July 24 vs. New Zealand.
So far this year, 12 players have scored the USA’s 49 goals: Megan Rapinoe (9), Christen Press (6), Samantha Mewis (6), Carli Lloyd (5), Alex Morgan (4), Lindsey Horan (4), Lynn Williams (3), Kristie Mewis (2), Tobin Heath (2), Margaret Purce (2), Rose Lavelle (2) and Catarina Macario. Three of the USA’s 49 goals in 2021 have been own goals.
Seventeen different players have also tallied an assist in 2021: Carli Lloyd (6), Christen Press (5), Lindsey Horan (5), Samantha Mewis (4), Rose Lavelle (2), Megan Rapinoe (2), Kristie Mewis (2), Crystal Dunn (2), Julie Ertz (2), Alex Morgan, Ali Krieger, Emily Sonnett, Casey Krueger, Sophia Smith, Tierna Davidson, Tobin Heath and Lynn Williams.
Overall, 19 different players have been directly involved in at least one of the USWNT’s 49 goals in the 2021 calendar year.
Just two players – Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd -- have played in every game in 2021. Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe have played in 17 matches each while Dunn leads the team with 16 starts on the year.
Vlatko Andonovski is 24-2-3 in 29 games as head coach of the USWNT (two at the end of 2019, nine in 2020 and 18 so far in 2021), setting a record for best start for a head coach in USWNT history.
IN FOCUS: PARAGUAY | FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
FIFA World Ranking: 50
CONMEBOL Ranking: 5
World Cup Appearances: N/A
Olympic Appearances: N/A
Record vs. USA: First meeting
Head Coach: Epifania Benítez
PARAGUAY DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (2): 12-Alicia Bobadilla (San Lorenzo de Almagro, ARG), 1-Cristina Recalde (C.D. Juan Grande, ESP)
DEFENDERS (9): 15-Sofía Almirón (Sol de América), 8-Lorena Alonso (Sol de América), 4-Daysy Bareiro (C.D. Juan Grande, ESP), 3-Limpia Fretes (Cerro Porteño), 13-Fiorella Martínez (Libertad-Limpeño), 2-María Martínez (Olimpia), 14-Deisy Ojeda (Olimpia), 11-Mirta Pico (Sol de América), 5-Tania Riso (Deportivo Capiatá)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 16-Cynthia Ayala (Minas Brasilia Futebol, BRA), 6-Fany Gauto (Santa Fe de Bogotá, COL), 10-Fanny Godoy (C.D. Juan Grande, ESP), 7-Celsa Sandoval (Esporte Clube Bahia, BRA), 17-Yanina Servín (Cerro Porteño)
FORWARDS (2): 18-Ramona Martínez (Olimpia), 9-Liz Peña (Libertad-Limpeño)
PARAGUAY ROSTER NOTES
Paraguay has played one match in 2021, a 7-0 loss to Japan in Sendai in April. Three matches against Colombia in June were cancelled due to COVID.
Paraguay finished fourth at the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, wining Group A over Colombia, Mexico and Jamaica, before falling in the semifinal to Argentina (3-0) and in the bronze medal game to Costa Rica (1-0).
Paraguay went out in the group stage of the 2018 Copa America Femeina, finishing third in its group behind Colombia and Chile, but did draw Chile and beat Peru and Uruguay. Paraguay lost to Colombia 5-1. Its group finish did earn the berth to the 2019 Pan American Games.
Paraguay has brought a small roster – just 18 players – but nine players have 25 for more caps, led by defender Limpia Fretes (54 caps/10 goals) and midfielder Fanny Godoy (49/10), who plays in Spain for C.D. Juan Grande in the Spanish Second Division.
Paraguay’s tops scorer on this roster is midfielder Fabiola Sandoval, who has 25 goals in 43 caps. She played for Paraguay at the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, as did five of her teammates on this roster: D Lorena Alonso, D Daysy Bareiro, D Limpia Fretes, M Fanny Godoy and D Deisy Ojeda. All but Bareiro and Ojeda (who were on the bench) played against the USA U-20s during group play.
With the expansion of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to 32 countries, Paraguay will be hoping to earn one of three automatic berths via the 2023 Copa America Femenina or – if they can finish fourth or fifth -- one of two berths into the 10-team playoff tournament that will produce the last three teams for the World Cup tournament.