The U.S. Women’s National Team heads into its final stretch of 2018 carrying a 16-0-2 record, which includes wins against Denmark, Germany, England, Mexico (thrice), China PR (twice), Japan, Brazil, Chile (twice), Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica and Canada; and ties against Australia and France.
The USA will close out the year with two games abroad, against Portugal on Nov. 8 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN2) in Lisbon, and Scotland on Nov. 13 (2 p.m. ET, FS1 & UDN) in Glasgow. With both games taking place in Europe, the next two weeks will not only serve as an exciting challenge to wrap up a successful year on a positive note, but also re-introduce the players to the adversities of traveling overseas.
“I think after qualifying for the World Cup, we now have eight months ahead of us, and any opportunity to play games together is going to be beneficial,” U.S. WNT defender Abby Dahlkemper said. “Coming to Europe, which is the obviously a similar situation to what the team will face when we travel to France, is exactly what we needed to finish 2018.”
U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis has also talked about the importance of acclimating to the different time zone and the overall atmosphere of playing away games, experiences the team will get this month and at the start of next year when the squad returns to Europe for its annual January training camp.
“This trip and our January Camp will give us two opportunities to dry run the logistics of traveling to Europe next summer,” Ellis said. “We love playing at home, but adjusting to time change, recovering from international travel, traveling within Europe and playing in front of away crowds are all good experiences to prepare us for next June.”
By many metrics, it’s been a positive year for the U.S. WNT. Despite a highly competitive schedule, the team won all three tournaments it played – the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, the 2018 Tournament of Nations and the 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship – and has remained unbeaten, with only two draws, both 1-1 scores, coming against France at the SBC and Australia at the ToN. Most importantly, the USA accomplished its biggest goal of the year: qualifying for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The USA is unbeaten in its last 26 matches (23-0-3 dating back to the summer of 2017), and has scored in all 26 of those games while outscoring opponents 91-17 through that stretch.
The USA is also on the verge of a historic moment. With its next victory, the WNT will record the 500th win in program history. Since its inception in 1985, the U.S. WNT has compiled an international record of 499 wins, 65 losses and 74 ties.
“It’s been a year of working hard to take strides to improve, so I think finishing the year off with two solid performances would be a fitting end to 2018,” Ellis added. “The players, medical team, and technical staff worked very hard to ensure we peaked for World Cup qualifying and got the job done, so these two friendlies will be a chance to continue that work and end this period on a high note with a good feeling of what’s to come.”Read more
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Jill Ellis has named 24 players for an almost two-week trip to Europe that will end the USA’s 2018 schedule with matches in two historic capitals, against Portugal in Lisbon and Scotland in Glasgow. Ahead of the challenging tour, Ellis spoke about her goals for the trip, bringing a larger roster overseas and continuing the work to end a remarkably productive year on a high note.
What are the main goals for the matches against Portugal and Scotland?
“It’s been a year of working hard to take strides to improve, so I think finishing the year off with two solid performances would be a fitting end to 2018. The players, medical team, and technical staff worked very hard to ensure we peaked for World Cup qualifying and got the job done, so these two friendlies will be a chance to continue that work and end this period on a high note with a good feeling of what’s to come.”
There were 20 players on the World Cup Qualifying squad, but you’ve increased the roster to 24 for this trip. What was the impetus for the additions?
“We’ve brought a larger roster to Europe for two main reasons. First, our core players have had a very demanding year and the priority for that group was qualifying for the World Cup. A slightly larger roster enables us to share players’ loads in training and in matches while still getting in quality minutes. The second is that this approach will give us an opportunity to look at the depth in certain positions outside of the 20 players from qualifying. With two midfielders and two defenders [Morgan Brian, McCall Zerboni, Tierna Davidson and Kelley O’Hara] not with us, this trip will provide a window for several other quality players to get time with the main group.”
U.S. WNT Roster by Position – Portugal-Scotland Tour ’18 (Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 18/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 37/0)
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 28/0), Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 73/24), Emily Fox (UNC; 0/0), Merritt Mathias (NC Courage; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 147/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 24/0)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 0/0), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 71/18), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 61/7), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 18/6), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 39/6), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 40/8), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 10/0)
FORWARDS (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 142/25), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 263/105), Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 1/0), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 151/97), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 106/46), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 41/12), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 144/41)
What are the benefits of holding this last camp of the year in Europe as you and your staff plan for next summer?
“This trip and our January Camp will give us two opportunities to ‘dry run’ the logistics of traveling to Europe next summer. We love playing at home, but adjusting to time change, recovering from international travel, traveling within Europe and playing in front of away crowds are all good experiences to prepare us for next June.”
These two matches end an extremely competitive 2018 schedule. The next time the team gets together will be in January. What message will you give the players after the Scotland game?
“To take a well-earned break and enjoy some downtime. They have been either with their club teams or with us since January, so they need to recharge their batteries. After a break, [High Performance Coach] Dawn Scott will work with each player to customize a “gap plan” that will prioritize their specific performance needs. The base they build with Dawn will give us a solid starting point in the new year.”