The #1-ranked United States Women’s National Team will open the Tournament of Nations against a familiar opponent, Australia (#7). They have a record of 25-0-2 against the Matildas and will be looking to stay undefeated. The match is set for July 27 at 7 pm on ESPN and will be played at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
Head coach Jill Ellis will be experimenting as has become the status quo for the US team. Her call-ups feature plenty of veterans, with a few newer faces and a small sample of youth as well.
- Goalkeepers: Alyssa Naeher, Jane Campbell, Abby Smith
- Defenders: Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Julie Ertz, Abby Dahlkemper, Casey Short, Taylor Smith.
- Midfielders: Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Samantha Mewis, Margaret Purce.
- Forwards: Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn, Christen Press, Sydney Leroux, Mallory Pugh, Lindsey Horan, Lynn Williams.
Some notable players are currently unavailable due to injury, including Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Rose Lavelle, Ashlyn Harris.
Australia is a dangerous team because they have two things that I love: youth and speed. It’s no secret they have always embraced their young talent Down Under and head coach Alan Stajic has continued to do just that. The Matilda’s ToN roster has an average age of 24, with two 17-year-olds (Ellie Carpenter and Princess Ibini) rounding out the bottom, while the oldest is Lisa De Vanna at 32.
- Goalkeepers: Lydia Williams, Mackenzie Arnold.
- Defenders: Clare Polkinghorne, Steph Catley, Laura Alleway, Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Cooper, Ellie Carpenter, Gema Simon.
- Midfielders: Katrina Gorry, Tameka Butt, Elise Kellond-Knight, Emily Van Egmond, Chloe Logarzo, Alex Chidiac.
- Forwards: Sam Kerr, Lisa De Vanna, Hayley Raso, Emily Gielnik, Princess Ibini.
Notable players out due to injury; Kyah Simon, Michelle Heyman.
The last time these two powerhouses met was back in 2015 at the opening match of Group D in the Women’s World Cup in Canada. Rapinoe led the Americans to a 3-1 win by scoring a brace while Press also contributed a goal in the second half. The United States would go on to win their third star while the Matildas reached the quarter-finals but would go no further thanks to eventual second-place Japan.
In 2016 the tables turned a bit for both countries in the Olympics. The Americans would crash out of the tournament in the quarterfinals (the earliest exit in history) while Australia took a devastating loss to Brazil (again on penalties) in the quarterfinals as well. Both teams had high expectations but were eliminated from the Games in stunning fashion. 2017–for both teams–has been a year of experimenting and figuring out how to prepare for the next major tournament as the cycle begins again, the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
The United States will want to put on a better performance than their last home tournament, the She Believes Cup back in March, where they took fourth behind France, Germany, and England. They made a better showing last month in their first overseas friendlies in years, when they managed 1-0 wins over Norway and Pia Sundhage’s Sweden last month. Australia surely feel the same need to prove something after they finished third in the Algarve Cup in March with a shocking loss to Denmark in penalties.
Players to watch for both U.S and Australia will be Megan Rapinoe and Sam Kerr. Rapinoe has been in remarkable form for her NWSL side Seattle Reign, scoring a league-leading 12 goals, including a hat-trick on July 22 in a thrilling 5-4 in over Sky Blue. Kerr has equally been impressive with Sky Blue, netting 11 goals so far this season. Rapinoe and Kerr will surely give the opposing defense some challenges if they can translate their NWSL club play onto the international stage at this tourney.