The U.S. Women’s National Team returns to the pitch for the first time since winning the 2022 SheBelieves Cup in February and will square off against Uzbekistan in pair of friendly matches. The teams will meet on Saturday, April 9 at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio (5:30 p.m. ET on FOX and ViX) and then again on Tuesday, April 12 at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa. (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and ViX).
With qualifiers for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Summer Olympics kicking off in just three months, these matches and the associated camp will serve as valuable preparation for the summer ahead.
Get ready for the April matches with Five Things to Know.
The games against Uzbekistan will market the first ever meetings between the USA and Uzbekistan in women’s soccer and makes Uzbekistan the 55th different country the USWNT has played in its nearly 37-year history. Uzbekistan is the eighth different country from the Asian Football Confederation that the USA has played, joining Australia, China PR, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Korea DPR, Korea Republic and Thailand. The last time the USA played an opponent for the first time, the match also occurred in the state of Ohio, as the USWNT beat Paraguay, 9-0, on September 16 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
The USWNT has a long and proud history in Columbus, Ohio, site of the first soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer and home to Columbus Crew. The USA has played 10 matches all-time in Columbus, Ohio, though Saturday’s game against Uzbekistan will be the USWNT’s first ever match at newly-opened Lower.com Field. This match marks a return to the city of U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski’s first game in charge of the USWNT as the USA downed Sweden, a 3-2 win on Nov. 7, 2019, at MAPFRE Stadium. The USWNT is 18-1-2 all-time in games played in the state of Ohio, including 9-0 and 8-0 wins over Paraguay in September of 2021 in Cleveland and Cincinnati.
On April 12, the teams will take the field at Subaru Park in Chester, Pa., another familiar locale for the USWNT. This will be the USA’s eighth match all-time in Chester, having played there most recently against Japan during the 2019 SheBelieves Cup. The USA is 5-0-2 in its previous seven matches in Chester and boasts a 15-3-2 record all-time in games played in the state of Pennsylvania.
ABOUT THE UZBEKS
Uzbekistan gained its independence and became a country in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Led by famed Japanese player Midori Honda, who represented Japan in the first-ever Women’s World Cup in 1991, Uzbekistan played in the Turkish Women’s Cup during the February FIFA window, defeating Lithuania 1-0, falling to Ukraine 2-0 and drawing with Venezuela, 0-0.
In 2021 in friendly games, Uzbekistan defeated India, 1-0, lost to Belarus, 3-1, drew Belarus 1-1, and defeated Iran 5-0. In Asian Cup qualifying, the Uzbeks downed Mongolia 12-0 and lost to South Korea, 4-0.
Of the 23 players on Uzbekistan’s roster for the matches against the USA, 19 play domestically with the remaining four playing their club soccer in Turkey.
Later this summer, Uzbekistan will play the qualifying rounds for the 2023 Asian Women’s Cup in China PR and was drawn into Group C with Thailand, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The group winners and the top five second place teams in the 24-team pre-qualifying tournament will advance to the final tournament.
UZBEKISTAN WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Tilovova Laylo (PFK Sevinch), 12-Saidova Zarina (FC Bunyodkor), 13-Uzganova Nigora (FC Sogdiana)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Nabieva Yulduz (FC Bunyodkor), 3-Kuchkarova Ugiloy (FC Sogdiana), 9-Irisboeva Ziyoda (FC Bunyodkor), 11-Mirzayorova Mukhlisa (FC Metallurg), 17-Zarbieva Tanzilya (FC Sogdiana), 21-Tojiddinova Shokhida (FC AGMK), 22-Khusniddinova Solikha (Kocaeli Bayan FK, TUR)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 4-Zaynitdinova Shakhrizoda (Trabzonspor, TUR), 5-Panjieva Maftuna (FC Sogdiana), 6-Turdalieva Irodahon (FC Sogdiana), 10-Ablyakimova Ilvina (FC Bunyodkor), 14-Takaboeva Setora (Trabzonspor, TUR), 15-Vokhidova Madina (FC Qizilkum), 19-Kamoltoeva Nozima (FC Sogdiana)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Kudratova Nilufar (PFK Sevinch), 8-Ergasheva Dildora (FC Sogdiana), 16-Juraboeva Diyora (FC Metallurg), 18-Norboeva Aziza (FC Bunyodkor), 20-Zaripova Kamila (Trabzonspor, TUR), 23-Khabibullaeva Diyorakhon (FC Sogdiana)
ABOUT THE RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Andonovski has selected a 22-player roster for these two games against Uzbekistan, which features 17 players who helped the USA win the 2022 SheBelieves Cup in February. The average age of the USA roster is 26.3-years-old and it averages 31.8 caps per player, with only six players on this roster who were also part of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup champions. Just four players – and two field players -- are over the age of 30 in defender 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
U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM APRIL FRIENDLIES ROSTER BY POSITION (CLUB; CAPS/GOALS):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Bella Bixby (Portland Thorns FC; 0), Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 79)
DEFENDERS (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign; 7/0), Abby Dahlkemper (San Diego Wave FC; 77/0), Imani Dorsey (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 1/0), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC; 11/0), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign; 10/0), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC; 0/0), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 150/2)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 108/25), Jaelin Howell (Racing Louisville FC; 4/0), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 69/18), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 15/5), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 36/5), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit; 5/0), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 25/2)
FORWARDS (5): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 6/3), Mallory Pugh (Chicago Red Stars; 70/21), Margaret Purce (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 12/2), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 13/1)
THE ROAD AHEAD
One week after the USA’s April 12 match vs. Uzbekistan, the official draw for the 2022 Concacaf W Championship will be held on April 19 in Miami (7 p.m. ET). The event will place the eight competing nations – the USA, Canada and the six qualifying group winners – into two groups of four teams each. The USA, which will head Group A, and Canada, which will head Group B, have received byes straight to the final tournament as the highest-ranked teams in the region.
The revamped 2022 Concacaf W Championship is one of the two new major women’s summer competitions taking place from 2021 through 2024 and will serve as the Confederation’s Qualifier to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 and the 2024 Paris Summer Olympic Games. After round-robin group play in the Concacaf W Championship, the top two finishers in each group will qualify for the competition’s semifinals and guarantee their place in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Additionally, both group stage third-place finishers will advance to a 10-team FIFA Women’s World Cup intercontinental play-off. At the 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 USA is looking to qualify for its ninth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup, having played in every tournament since the competition’s inception in 1991 and winning a record four titles. The USA will also have the opportunity to qualify for an eighth consecutive Summer Olympics.