Five Things to Know About AustraliaHydrated by BioSteel
The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its final matches of 2021 when it takes on Australia in two matches Down Under to close out the calendar year. The USA kicks off the two-game set against the Matildas at Sydney’s Stadium Australia on Saturday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m. local (Friday, Nov. 26 at 11 p.m. Et on FS2). The teams will meet again at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle on Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 8:05 p.m. local (4:05 a.m. ET on ESPN).
While this marks the USA’s first trip Down Under in 21 years, Australia is a very familiar foe with the teams having met twice earlier this year at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
For more on the matchup and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosts, here are Five Things to Know about the Matildas.
INSIDE THE ROSTER
Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson – who previously served as an assistant coach for the USA – has called up 25 players for the two matches, 18 of whom were on the 22-player roster for the 2020 Olympics.
Clare Polkinghorne, who had stints with both the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash in the NWSL, is the most-capped player on this rosterwith 138 appearances. Midfielder Emily van Egmond (110 caps), defender Alana Kennedy (101), and forwards Kyah Simon (103) and Sam Kerr (102) also have 100+ caps while veteran midfielder Tameka Yallop is just one appearance away from joining the 100-cap club.
Complementing this experienced core are 10 players with fewer than 10 caps, including a pair of uncapped players in 18-year-old forward Charlize Rule and 17-year-old defender Jessika Nash.
The leading goal scorer on this roster - and in the history of the Australian Women’s National Team – is Kerr, who has 49 international goals in 102 international appearances. Widely considered one of the world’s best strikers, Kerr currently plays for Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League, but still holds the distinction of being the all-time leading scorer in NWSL history with 77 goals and was a three-time Golden Boot winner during her seven seasons in the league. The 28-year-old Kerr needs just one goal to tie Tim Cahill as the all-time scoring leader – men’s or women’s –in Australia soccer history.
AUSTRALIA WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM - ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Lydia Williams (Arsenal, ENG), 12-Teagan Micah (Rosengård, NOR), 18-Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United, ENG)
DEFENDERS (9): 4-Clare Polkinghorne (Vittsjo GIK, SWE), 14-Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City, ENG), 7-Steph Catley (Arsenal, ENG), 21-Ellie Carpenter (Lyon, FRA), 3-Courtney Nevin (Melbourne Victory), 8-Charlotte Grant (Rosengård, Sweden), 5-Karly Roestbakken (LSK Kvinner, NOR), 2-Angela Beard (Fortuna Hjørring, DEN), 24-Jessika Nash (Sydney FC)
MIDFIELDERS (4):19-Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), 10-Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride), 13-Tameka Yallop (West Ham United, ENG), 6-Clare Wheeler (Fortuna Hjørring, DEN)
FORWARDS (9): 20-Sam Kerr (Chelsea, ENG), 9-Caitlin Foord (Arsenal, ENG), 11-Mary Fowler (Montpellier, FRA), 15-Emily Gielnik (Aston Villa, ENG), 16-Hayley Raso (Everton, ENG), 17-Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur, NED), 22-Bryleeh Henry (Western Sydney Wanderers), 23-Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC), 25-Charlize Rule (Sydney FC)
SERIES HISTORY: USA vs. AUSTRALIA
The USA has played Australia 32 times overall, including twice earlier this summer at the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan. The sides played to a 0-0 draw on July 27 in the final match of the group stage. The result sent the USA through as the second-place finisher in Group G while Australia advanced to the knockout rounds from third in the Group G standings. The teams met again nine days later in Kashima, Japan, squaring off in the Bronze Medal Match. The Americans won 4-3 as Megan Rapinoe and the now-retired Carli Lloyd each scored twice, helping the USA claim its sixth all-time Olympic medal. Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord and Emily Gielnik scored for the Matildas in the defeat.
The USA leads the all-time series between the teams, 27-1-4 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 before the Olympics, 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. Lindsey Horan is the only player on this current U.S. roster who has scored against Australia at the senior international level.
Over its last five games with Australia, the USA has a record of 2-1-2 and all three matches have been decided by two goals or fewer.
BACK IN ACTION ON HOME SOIL
Australia’s most recent on-field action came in October, when the Matildas hosted Brazil in Sydney for a pair of friendlies. However, though matches had extra meaning as they marked Australia’s first games at home in nearly 600 days, last playing at home in March of 2020 due to travel restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia won the opening match against Brazil on October 23, 3-1 on goals by Clare Polkinghorne, Mary Fowler and Emily van Egmond. The teams drew 2-2 on October 26 with goals from Polkinghorne and Kerr.
The USA has never faced Australia in Sydney. The last time the USA played Australia in Australia was June 11, 2000, a 1-0 win in Newcastle. The lone goal of the match was scored by Shannon MacMillan.
WELCOMING THE WORLD DOWN UNDER
Australia has already secured a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup as co-host nation along with New Zealand. It will be the first time a Women’s World Cup will be hosted across multiple countries and will also see the overall field expanded from 24 to 32 teams.
While this is Australia’s first time hosting a World Cup, Australia has hosted the Summer Olympics twice previously, most recently the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. In fact, Stadium Australia, where the USA and Australia will play their first match in this two-game set, was originally built for the 2000 Olympics and hosted numerous events, including the opening ceremonies, track and field, and the men’s soccer final. The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final will be played at Stadium Australia on August 20, 2023.
AUSSIE-AMERICAN CONNECTIONS ABOUND
Almost all of Australia’s top players have at one time or another played in the NWSL, though the only player on this roster who currently does is Emily van Egmond, who recently resigned with the Orlando Pride. Eleven members of this Matildas roster have been rostered with NWSL clubs, many competing with or against players on this USA roster during their time in the league.
Outside back Ellie Carpenter was the youngest player at the time to play in the NWSL when she debuted for Portland Thorns FC. She made her debut on May 9, 2018, on the road against Houston at 18 years, 12 days. The now 21-year-old Carpenter now plays for Olympique Lyonnais in France where she is teammates with USWNT attacker Catarina Macario.
Six players on this U.S. roster have also previously played for clubs in Australia – Kristie Mewis, Abby Dahlkemper, Sofia Huerta, Emily Sonnett, Ashley Hatch and Lynn Williams.
The familiarity between the teams also extends to the sidelines. 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.