USWNT Set to Face Czech Republic to Open 2022 SheBelieves Cup, Pres. By VisaUSA to Kick Off 2022 Campaign on Thursday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. PT on ESPN and TUDN
With the qualification tournament for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympics kicking off in less than five months, head coach Vlakto Andonovski and this 23-player roster will look to make the most of these three games as they prepare for Concacaf W Championship in July.
Following the Thursday night match, the USA will continue SheBelieves Cup play on Sunday, Feb. 20, taking on 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-host New Zealand at Noon PT (ABC and PrendeTV). The Czech Republic and Iceland will meet in the second doubleheader of the day at 3 p.m. PT on ESPN3.
Fans will also be able to follow the action via Twitter (@USWNT), Instagram (@USWNT), Facebook and the official U.S. Soccer App.
USWNT DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 0), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 2), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 78)
DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 4/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 45/1), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 8/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 9/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 148/2), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 63/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 199/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Gautrat (Chicago Red Stars; 87/8), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville FC; 2/0) Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 68/18), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 12/3), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 33/4), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 22/2)
FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 4/2), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 67/18), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 9/2), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 0/0), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 10/1), Lynn Williams (Kansas City Current; 45/14)
The U.S. roster for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup is made up almost entirely of players who attended the USWNT January training camp in Austin, Texas, with the addition of midfielder Catarina Macario, who missed the event due to an important match in France with her club Olympique Lyonnais, and veteran Becky Sauerbrunn, who missed the camp due to a minor injury. The roster features 22 players from the National Women’s Soccer League, plus Macario. The average age of the roster is 26.8 and five players are over the age of 30 in defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O’Hara, midfielder Kristie Mewis and goalkeepers Alyssa Naeher and Aubrey Bledsoe. Trinity Rodman, the 2021 NWSL Rookie of the Year and 2021 U.S. Soccer Young Player of the Year, is the youngest player on the roster at 19 years old. She was initially named as training player during the lead-up to the tournament but was added to the final roster due to a back injury to veteran defender Abby Dahlkemper. The U.S. was forced to make another change to the roster on Feb. 11 as Jaelin Howell replaced veteran Lindsey Horan on the roster after Horan suffered some knee irritation while in France with her new club, Olympique Lyonnais.
INSIDE THE SERIES: USA vs. CZECH REPUBLIC
The matchup at Dignity Health Sports Park will be just the second meeting all-time between the USA and the Czech Republic. The only other meeting between the teams came on January 7, 2000, an 8-1 win for the Americans in Melbourne, Australia. Two players on this USA roster – Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman – had not been born when these teams last played.
The match against the Czech Republic will be the USA’s first game against a European foe since an epic matchup against the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.
This will also be the first time the USWNT has played a European team on home soil since beating Portugal, 1-0, on June 10, 2021, in the opening game of the WNT Summer Series in Houston, Texas.
VISA SHEBELIEVES CUP MVP
For the third year in a row, Visa, the presenting sponsor of the SheBelieves Cup, will award the MVP trophy to the most outstanding player of the tournament. The award will be announced following the conclusion of the final match and with the input of a selection committee comprised of representatives from all competing nations. For the second consecutive year, fans will also get the opportunity to vote for the Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP award using an online ballot to select among a list of finalists chosen by the committee. The fan vote will be incorporated into the overall determination of the 2021 Visa SheBelieves Cup MVP. Spain attacker and reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Alexia Putellas won the inaugural award in 2020 while USWNT midfielder Rose Lavelle took home the honors in 2021 after leading the USA to its second consecutive title.
SHEBELIEVES CUP ENTERS YEAR SEVEN
The SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa, is just one part of U.S. Soccer’s SheBelieves initiative to inspire and empower women and girls to achieve their goals in sport and beyond. The tournament, which will feature six total games, was first played in 2016. The USA won the inaugural edition, France took top honors in 2017, the USA won again in 2018, England finished first in 2019 and the USA returned to the top of the podium in both 2020 and 2021.
The tournament format for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup will be the same as the first six years. The winner will be determined by total points (three for a win, one for a draw), with the first tiebreaker being overall goal difference, followed by goals scored, then head-to-head result. If teams are still tied, the next tiebreaker will be the Fair Play ranking based on yellow and red cards. Each team is allowed six substitutes per game over three sub opportunities and two concussions subs, if necessary. Halftime subs, concussion substitutions and/or additional substitutions due to an opponent’s concussion sub do not count against the three opportunities limit.
The SheBelieves Cup is just one part of the broader SheBelieves movement, an initiative led by U.S. Soccer to inspire and encourage women and girls. The campaign launched in the run-up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup and has since grown into a powerful message of empowerment and believing in oneself. The SheBelieves Cup represents a showcase event for the campaign, which also features efforts such as the SheBelieves Summit Presented by Deloitte, SheBelieves Hero™, a nationwide search for a young community leader who embodies the SheBelieves ethos, SheBelieves Ambassador, a program where female focused nonprofit organizations partner with U.S. Soccer to bring the SheBelieves movement to their community, SheBelieves Rocks, a music competition for female bands, and SheBelieves FanArt, a celebration of the artwork created by fans.
SUCCESS ON HOME SOIL
The USA enters the match against the Czech Republic – its first domestic match of 2022 -- on a 62-game home unbeaten streak which includes 56 wins and six draws. During this home unbeaten streak, the USA has outscored its opponents 227-27, including a 97-3 margin during its last 24 matches at home, all of which have been wins save for the 0-0 draw with Korea Republic on Oct. 21. That match ended the USA’s home winning streak at 22 consecutive games, the second-longest such streak in USWNT history. The USA's longest home winning streak was 23 games and spanned from April 1993 to February 1996.
The USA has not allowed a goal on home soil in nearly two years, last conceding at home on March, 11, 2020 in a 3-1 win over Japan in the final match of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup. Since then, they’ve kept a program record 14 straight home clean sheets, the longest such streak in program history.
The Dignity Health Sports Park has been the site of exemplary play by the USWNT over the years. The USA’s two matches there in this tournament will be 17th and 18th games the team has played at the venue, which has hosted the USWNT more than any other stadium in the United States. The USWNT is unbeaten and untied in Carson, Calif., going 16-0-0 since the first game played there in Sept. of 2003, a few months after the stadium opened.
BECKY 200 ON THE HORIZON
Veteran defender and team captain Becky Sauerbrunn enters 2022 with 199 international appearances. Her next cap will be her 200th, which would make her just the 12th player in USWNT history to appear 200 times for her country. The last USWNT player to reach 200 caps was Hope Solo, who did so during the 2016 Olympics. The USWNT’s 200-cap club is currently comprised of Kristine Lilly (354 caps), Carli Lloyd (316), Christie Pearce Rampone (311), Mia Hamm (276), Julie Foudy (274), Abby Wambach (255), Joy Fawcett (241), Heather O’Reilly (231), Tiffeny Milbrett (206), Solo (202) and Kate Markgraf (201).
A two-time World Cup champion and 2012 Olympic gold medalist, Sauerbrunn has started in 169 of her 199 caps. At 36 years of age, she would also be the oldest player in USWNT history to reach 200 caps.
2023 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP ON THE HORIZON
A new cycle is underway with less than five months 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 Monterrey, Mexico from July 4-18, 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 playoff tournament 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, 2021, 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 Championship began for all teams -- except the USA and Canada -- during this February FIFA window and serves as the preliminary round the World Cup and Olympic qualifiers. The eight team Concacaf W Championship 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.
USA ROSTER NOTES
- Sauerbrunn is by far the most experienced player on the roster with 199 caps. Defender Kelley O’Hara is the only other player on this roster with 100+ caps, with O’Hara having 148 international appearances.
- Ten players on the roster have fewer than 10 caps: Sofia Huerta, Margaret Purce, Emily Fox, Ashley Hatch, Alana Cook, Casey Murphy, Jaelin Howell, Ashley Sanchez, Aubrey Kingsbury and Trinity Rodman. Kingsbury and Rodman are both uncapped.
- Sauerbrunn is the oldest player on the roster (36.7 years old) while Rodman is the youngest (19.7 years old). Rodman was five-years-old when Sauerbrunn made her USWNT debut.
- Nine players on the roster are under the age of 25: Cook, Mallory Pugh, Fox, Tierna Davidson, Sanchez, Catarina Macario, Howell, Sophia Smith and Rodman.
- The average caps per player on 23-player roster is 40.
- Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh are tied for the top scorers on this roster with 18 goals each for the USWNT. Lynn Williams (14 goals) is the only other player on this roster with 10 or more international goals.
- Eight field players on this roster have yet to score an international goal.
IN FOCUS: CZECH REPUBLIC | FIVE THINGS TO KNOW
FIFA World Ranking: 24
UEFA Ranking: 15
World Cup appearances: None
2023 World Cup Qualifying: Currently third in Group C; 4 matches played; 1-2-1 (5 pts); GF: 11, GA: 7.
Record vs. USA: 0-1-0
Last Meeting vs. USA: January 7, 2000, 8-1 loss in Melbourne, Australia
Head Coach: Karel Rada
CZECH REPUBLIC DETAILED ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 16-Olivie Lukášová (SK Slavia Prague), 23-Alexandra Vaníčková (AC Sparta Prague), 1-Barbora Votíková (Paris Saint-Germain FC)
DEFENDERS (6): 4-Petra Bertholdová (AC Sparta Prague), 2-Anna Dlasková (AC Sparta Prague), 13-Jitka Chlastáková (AC Sparta Prague), 3-Kateřina Kotrčová (AC Sparta Prague), 19-Simona Necidová (SK Slavia Prague), 5-Gabriela Šlajsová (SK Slavia Prague)
MIDFIELDERS (10): 12-Klára Cahynová (Sevilla FC), 22-Franny Cerny (SK Slavia Prague), 18-Kamila Dubcová (US Sassuolo Calcio), 11-Tereza Krejčiříková (SK Slavia Prague), 8-Aneta Pochmanová (AC Sparta Prague), 15-Antonie Starova (NC State), 10-Kateřina Svitková (West Ham United), 17-Tereza Szewieczková (SK Slavia Prague), 6-Michaela Khýrová (SK Slavia Prague), 20-Katerina Buzkova (AC Sparta Prague)
FORWARDS (4): 14-Klára Cvrčková (AC Sparta Prague), 7-Lucie Martínková (AC Sparta Prague), 21-Miroslava Mrázová (FC Viktoria Plzen), 9-Andrea Stašková (Juventus FC)
CZECH REPUBLIC ROSTER NOTES
- The Czech Republic is looking to qualifying for its first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup and is currently third in Group C of UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifying with five points, behind Iceland (nine points) and the Netherlands (11) points, but both Iceland and the Czech Republic, which have played four matches, have game in hand on the Netherlands, who have played five. Group winners qualify directly to the World Cup and second-place finishers will go into a playoff.
- So far, the Czech Republic have tied the Netherlands twice, blew out Cyprus (8-0), and in a crucial match, lost to Iceland, 4-0.
- In the 1-1 tie with the Netherlands on Sept. 17, 2021 in Groningen, Andrea Stašková scored two minutes into the second half and the Czechs held the lead until an 83rd minute equalizer from Dutch star Vivianne Miedema. In the 2-2 tie with the Dutch on Nov. 27, 2021 in Ostrava, the Czechs twice held the lead. Kateřina Svitková, who plays for West Ham in England’s Women’s Super League, scored in just the 11th minute, Danielle Van de Donk tied it in the 51st and defender Simona Necidová staked her country to the lead in the 60th. Only an equalizing goal three minutes into second half stoppage time -- and seconds from the final whistle – by towering defender Stefanie van der Gragt prevented the Czechs from an historic victory.
- The Czechs still have matches left against Belarus (which needed to be rescheduled due to COVID-19), Iceland on April 12, Cyprus on Sept. 1 and Belarus on Sept. 6. A sweep of those matches could conceivably get the Czechs into the World Cup playoffs.
- Czech Republic head coach Karel Rada is a former international player, having appeared 43 times for the Czech Republic and scored four goals. He played for the Czech Republic in the 1996 Euros and went 90 minutes in the championship game where the Czechs lost to Germany on a golden goal. He made a penalty kick in the shootout in the semifinal where the Czechs defeated France, 6-5, after a scoreless regulation and overtime.
- While 17 players on the Czech roster play in their domestic league, they do also have players playing in France, Spain, Italy, England and the United States.
- Twenty-three-year-old midfielder Antonie Stárová (goes by Toni), who is from Prague, is a rising senior for the NC State Wolfpack and has scored three goals in her college career.