The sixth annual SheBelieves Cup is set to begin this week. The United States Women’s National Team is joined by Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. It will be played from Feb. 18 to 24 at the Orlando Pride’s and Orlando City’s own Exploria Stadium.
Like years in the past, each team will play the other three teams once each. Games are on Feb. 18, 21, and 24, with the U.S. playing Canada first, then Brazil, and wrapping it up against Argentina.
Here’s what to watch for:
Orlando Pride Players
There are several familiar names in the SheBelieves Cup for Orlando Pride fans. The biggest name is Alex Morgan. She is the only current Pride player called up to the USWNT. Former Pride player Emily Sonnett — who never made an appearance for Orlando — is also on the squad.
Marta is on the Brazilian National Team and could be a key player for her country. This is the second time that Brazil is in the SheBelieves Cup. Brazil was also in the tournament in 2019, but it lost all three matches.
The Orlando Pride is also represented by Team Canada. Veteran goalkeeper Erin McLeod got the call-up, as did midfielder Jordyn Listro. McLeod, unfortunately, picked up an injury and will not participate. This is the first-ever call-up for Listro, so Pride fans should keep an eye out for her progress. Former Pride defender Shelina Zadorsky, who is currently playing with Tottenham, is also on the roster.
Morgan and Marta should have their places on the national team locked up for the Olympics. However, Listro will need to impress to make the Olympics roster. Of course, Pride fans might always want her not to get called up so she could help out Orlando.
The U.S. has a strong roster that is filled with big-name players. One of the players to keep an eye out for is Catarina Macario. Fresh out of college, Macario decided to sign with Lyon instead of an NWSL team. The midfielder made two caps so far but looks to have the potential to be a key player in the future for the U.S.
Injuries already play a big part in the SheBelieves Cup. Canada has seven players injured before the team even plays its first game. Christine Sinclair is the biggest name to pull out because of an injury, while midfielder Diana Matheson also did not travel to Orlando. USWNT midfielder Sam Mewis suffered an ankle injury and was replaced by Florida State midfielder Jaelin Howell.
After a year of not playing much soccer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for NWSL teams to have their entire roster at their disposal. With players already getting injured before the tournament starts, it is something to focus on. This is especially important with teams playing three games in a week. The players are professionals, and the coaches will undoubtedly watch their minutes, but injuries and player fatigue is something to monitor.
The UWSNT Looks to Make History
The U.S. won the SheBelieves Cup three out of the first five years (2016, 2018, and 2020) and was the runner-up in 2019. While the Yanks have been extremely successful in this tournament, they have never won it in back-to-back years. That will be the goal this year. There are no bad teams in the tournament, and the U.S. has its work cut out for itself.
Both Canada and Brazil are two of the best teams in the world and are ranked inside the top 10, according to FIFA, while Argentina is the underdog. The Yanks are the favorite to win it but will need to be in top form to defend their title.