Five Things To Know: Czech Republic

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The U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off its 2022 schedule at the seventh edition of the SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa. The USA’s first game of the year will be played on Thursday, Feb. 17 against the Czech Republic at 8 p.m. PT at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. The match will be broadcast on ESPN and TUDN.

As the U.S. kicks off a new cycle with its focus on Concacaf World Cup Qualifying in July, it will open the year against an emergent Czech side with World Cup ambitions of its own.

Get ready for the SheBelieves Cup opener with Five Things To Know about the Czech Republic. 

INSIDE THE ROSTER


The Czech Republic’s 23-player roster for the 2022 SheBelieves Cup is a highly youthful one, with 21 of the 23 players on the roster in their 20s, including eight players aged 21 or younger. 

The two players over the age of 30 bring a great deal of experience to the side in 37-year-old veteran defender Petra Bertholdová who has 103 caps and 35-year-old forward Lucie Martínková who has 25 international goals in her 113 caps.

After Martínková, the next leading scorer on this roster is 25-year-old Kateřina Svitková, who has 21 goals in just 47 caps. Svitková plays her club soccer for West Ham United in the FA Women’s Super League and is one of just a handful of players on this roster competing for clubs outside of the Czech Republic. One of those players is midfielder Antonie Starova, who plays collegiately in the United States for North Carolina State.

Czech Republic is led by head coach Karel Rada, who is a former international player, with 43 caps and four goals for the Czech Republic Men’s National Team.  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.

CZECH REPUBLIC WOMEN’S SOCCER TEAM - ROSTER BY POSITION


GOALKEEPERS (3)
: 16-Olivie Lukášová (SK Slavia Prague), 23-Alexandra Vaníčková (AC Sparta Prague), 1-Barbora Votíková (Paris Saint-Germain FC; FRA) 

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; ESP), 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; USA), 10-Kateřina Svitková (West Ham United; ENG), 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; ITA)

SERIES HISTORY: 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. Tied 2-2 after regulation and overtime, the USA prevailed, 4-2 on penalty kicks, buoyed by goals from Lynn Williams and Samantha Mewis and a heroic night in goal from Alyssa Naeher. 

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.

CZECHS SET FOR SHEBELIEVES CUP DEBUT


When it kicks off against the USA in the nightcap on Thursday, the Czech Republic will become the 12th different country – including the United States – to participate in the SheBelieves Cup. UEFA has been the most-represented confederation in the tournament’s history and Czech Republic will become the sixth different team from Europe to take part in the SheBelieves Cup, joining England, France, Germany, Spain and fellow 2022 debutant Iceland. Concacaf (USA and Canada) and CONMEBOL (Brazil and Argentina) have had two representatives each in the tournament’s history. Japan is the lone team from Asia to take part in the SheBelieves Cup while New Zealand will become the first representative from Oceania when it takes on Iceland in the first game of the doubleheader on Feb. 17. 


2021 IN REVIEW


Thursday’s game against the USA will be the first match of the year for the Czech Republic, which just narrowly missed out on qualifying for their first ever trip to the Women’s European Championships.
In April of 2021, Czech Republic took on Switzerland in a two-legged playoff with the winner earning a berth to the 2022 EUROS. After drawing the opening leg, 1-1, at home, the Czechs jumped out to a 1-0 lead early in the second half of the fixture in Switzerland, though the hosts quickly equalized. After 120 minutes deadlocked, the match went to penalty kicks, where Switzerland prevailed 3-2 to deny Czech Republic its first appearance in the Women’s Euros, which will be staged in England this summer.

During the September and October FIFA windows, the Czech Republic began group stage play for UEFA Women’s World Cup qualifying and currently sits in third place in Group C with five points from four matches.

2023 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE


With the overall tournament field expanded to 32 teams for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, 11 teams from Europe will qualifying directly for the final tournament in Australia and New Zealand, while one team from UEFA will compete in the intercontinental playoff. The Czech Republic is still competing for a berth to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and is currently sitting behind the Netherlands (11 points) and Iceland (nine points) in Group C. Both the Czech Republic and Iceland, which have played four qualifying matches each, have game in hand on the Netherlands, who have played five. Each of the six Group winners will qualify directly to the World Cup, while 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. West Ham’s Svitková 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 from the Dutch three minutes into second half stoppage time prevented the Czechs from an historic victory.

The Czechs still have four matches left - two against Belarus, one against Iceland and one against Cyprus, with a spot in the World Cup playoffs still within sight.
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