The United States Women’s National Team will have to fix its leaky defense and keep improving as it heads towards this summer’s 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. A good chance to start doing that is tonight against Belgium at Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2).
The USWNT is 3-1-2 in 2019 after Thursday’s 5-3 win over Australia in Colorado. All of the Yanks’ matches in this calendar year so far have been against teams that are in the World Cup this summer. Belgium won’t be there but it was a narrow thing.
The Yanks have never played Belgium, which holds FIFA’s No. 20 world ranking. Belgium will be the 54th different national team the USWNT will face. Belgium finished second in its UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying group — just two points behind Italy — and earned a playoff berth. However, the Belgians fell to Switzerland in a two-leg playoff. The series was tied 3-3 on aggregate, but Switzerland went through on away goals.
The bulk of Belgium’s squad (11 players) plays domestically for either Anderlecht or Gent but forward Davinia Vanmechelen is a member of French powerhouse PSG, while leading goal-scorer Tessa Wullaert — 37 international goals in 65 caps — plays for Manchester City.
The No. 1 USWNT features three Orlando Pride teammates — Alex Morgan, Ashlyn Harris, and Ali Krieger. Morgan scored her 100th international goal in the win over the Matildas last week. Krieger entered this international window hoping to get a pair of caps during this call-up to reach the century mark in appearances. However, Jill Ellis did not play her on Thursday and she remains stuck on 98. She has not been called up to the USWNT since 2017.
The United States has been shaky in the back in recent games and hasn’t really played a complete game yet in 2019. That must end if the team is going to be ready for the world stage this summer.
The 1999 U.S. World Cup-winning side will be honored at halftime of tonight’s game.
Defenders (7): Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage; 36/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 18/1); Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 81/24), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride; 98/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 154/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 31/0).
Midfielders (7): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 78/18), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 65/7), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 24/6), Allie Long (Reign FC; 41/6), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage; 46/8), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage; 8/0).
Forwards (7): Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 147/28); Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 270/105), Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage; 6/1), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 159/100), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 112/47), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 49/15), Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC; 150/44).
Goalkeepers (3): Nicky Evrard (FC Twente), Lisa Lichtfus (Standard Liege), Justien Odeurs (Anderlecht).
Defenders (6): Maud Coutereels (LOSC Women), Laura Deloose (Anderlecht), Laura De Neve (Anderlecht), Heleen Jaques (Fiorentina), Davina Philtjens (Fiorentina), Shari Van Belle (Gent).
Midfielders (3): Julie Biesmans (Bristol City), Kassandra Missipo (Gent), Lenie Onzia (Gent).
Forwards (9): Janice Cayman (Montpellier), Yana Daniels (Liverpool), Tine de Caigny (Anderlecht), Elena Dhont (Gent), Chloe Vande Velde (Gent), Ella Van Kerkhoven (Anderlecht), Davinia Vanmechelen (Paris Saint-Germain), Sarah Wijnants (Anderlecht), Tessa Wullaert (Manchester City).
How to Watch
Match Time: 9 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Banc of California Stadium — Los Angeles, CA.
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