Welcome to your live thread for the United States Women's National Team’s opening game of the 2018 SheBelieves Cup. A year ago, the U.S. lost two out of three matches in this event on home soil, to finish an embarrassing fourth out of four teams. This year, the Yanks will seek redemption under Jill Ellis, who must avoid a second consecutive poor tournament to avoid her seat warming considerably with World Cup qualifying on the horizon.
Tonight’s match at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, OH, kicks off at 7 p.m. (ESPN2) and will be preceded by England vs. France at 4 p.m. in the tourney opener.
Orlando Pride stars Alex Morgan and Ashlyn Harris are once again on the U.S. roster, marking the third trip to the tournament for each. Morgan will likely play important minutes during the SheBelieves matches, while Jill Ellis seems content to not prepare any goalkeeper beyond her preferred option by giving all available minutes to Alyssa Naeher. With three games in a week it’s possible Harris could get a game, but I’m not betting on it. If Ellis had been a Pony Express rider, she’d have likely stranded herself in some desert hellscape on a dead horse before switching to a fresh one. But I digress.
Morgan enters the year with 81 career international goals — second among active U.S. players to Carli Lloyd (98) and in seventh place on the all-time USWNT scoring list. The Pride striker also leads all U.S. players on the roster in SheBelieves Cup goals, with two (both in 2016, including one against Germany).
The Americans open the tournament against potentially the toughest of the three opponents in Germany, FIFA’s No. 2 team in the world (behind only the U.S.). The Germans have two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles and an Olympic Gold Medal to their credit, making them one of the world’s most successful programs.
The last time these teams met was in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, when the U.S. won, 1-0, on a second-half Lynn Williams goal. Little did we know at the time that the team wouldn’t score another goal or win another game in that tournament. Like the U.S., Germany scored only once in the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, a strike by Anja Mittag in a 1-0 win over England on March 7 of last year in Germany’s only victory of that tournament (1-1-1). Mittag scored in a 2-1 loss to the U.S. in the 2016 tournament but has retired from international play.
The USWNT is 21-4-7 all-time against Germany and 2-0-0 vs. West Germany in matches played in 1988 and 1990 before the German reunification. Germany has not won the SheBelieves Cup. The U.S. won it in 2016. The U.S. is 5-1-1 at Mapfre/Crew Stadium, first winning there against Korea Republic in 1999. The last time the USWNT played in the venue, it won 9-0 over Thailand in September of 2016.
Germany is 9-2-1 over its last 12 matches, including some big wins over Canada, Brazil, and France. The squad returns 14 players from its 2017 SheBelieves Cup roster, including forwards Mandy Islacker, Alexandra Popp and Hasret Kayikci, and star midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán, who has 32 international goals in 81 appearances. The U.S. midfielders will have to make sure they have an eye on Marozsán — a teammate of Morgan’s at Olympique Lyon last year — at all times to keep the upper hand.
The tournament will be decided the same way as in years past. The team with the most total points will claim the SheBelieves Cup. The first tiebreaker is goal difference, followed by goals scored, head-to-head result, and, if necessary, FIFA ranking. Hey, at least coin flips don’t come into play.
Defenders (7): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 14/0), 17-Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 1/0), 14-Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 105/2), 2-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 19/0), 22-Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit; 8/0), 16-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 13/0).
Midfielders (6): 6-Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 69/6), 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 58/15), 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 44/4), 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 247/98), 20-Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 33/6), 3-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 8/0).
Forwards (7): 19-Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 58/23), 21-Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 135/81), 23-Christen Press (Houston Dash; 97/44), 11-Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 30/8), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 130/34), 12-Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 16/4).
Goalkeepers (3): Laura Benkarth (SC Freiburg), Carina Schlüter (SC Sand), Almuth Schult (VfL Wolfsburg).
Defenders (8): Anna Blässe (VfL Wolfsburg), Sara Doorsoun (SGS Essen), Johanna Elsig (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Verena Faißt (FC Bayern Munich), Kathrin Hendrich (1. FFC Frankfurt), Jacqueline Klasen (SGS Essen), Leonie Maier (FC Bayern Munich), Babett Peter (VfL Wolfsburg).
Midfielders (7): Sharon Beck (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Sara Däbritz (Bayern Munich), Linda Dallmann (SGS Essen), Lena Goeßling (VfL Wolfsburg), Tabea Kemme (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Lina Magull (SC Freiburg), Dzsenifer Marozsán (Olympique Lyonnais).
Forwards (5): Svenja Huth (1.FFC Turbine Potsdam), Mandy Islacker (1. FFC Frankfurt), Hasret Kayikçi (SC Freiburg), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), Lea Schüller (SGS Essen).
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Mapfre Stadium — Columbus, OH.
Streaming: Watch ESPN/ESPN3.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match. Go America!