As the NWSL gets ready for the upcoming playoffs, the United States women’s national team hosts New Zealand for a pair of friendlies, the first one tonight in Colorado at 10 p.m. Eastern time. After tonight’s game against the Ferns, who are currently ranked 19th worldwide, the USWNT will travel to Cincinnati for a game on Tuesday.
While New Zealand isn’t a minnow, they’re certainly a good opponent to test some different strategies out on without being able to stumble into a blowout win based purely on raw talent. New Zealand has a few players most Americans fans will recognize, like NWSL players Katie Bowen, Rebekah Stott, and Rosie White. Ali Riley, a US-born dual national, played in WPS and went to Stanford. New Zealand and the USWNT last faced off in the opening game of the 2016 Olympics, where the U.S. won 2-0.
Key player: Kelley O’Hara
Kelley O’Hara could receive her 100th cap tonight and the converted fullback is part of an ever-changing backline. Jill Ellis has been tinkering a lot with her fullbacks and seems to want an increasing role from fullbacks in the USWNT’s attack. With the exception of Becky Sauerbrunn, O’Hara has the most national team experience of any defender on the current roster.
Another player who might get a look in the outside back role is Tierna Davidson. Davidson is a Stanford sophomore getting her second national team call-up. A holding midfielder at Stanford, there are rumors that she may be considered as a fullback instead. Sofia Huerta, whose paperwork with FIFA just cleared, is probably going to get a look at outside back as well. Veterans Meghan Klingenberg and Ali Krieger are not in camp, and neither is Jaelene Hinkle who cited personal reasons in withdrawing from a June camp. Huerta’s NWSL teammate Casey Short is one of the best outside backs in camp and could also feature prominently on the left side.
Location: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (Commerce City, Colorado)
Kickoff time: 10:00pm Eastern
Update - USWNT lineup:
Update - New Zealand lineup:
Available TV: ESPN2
Available streaming: WatchESPN
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
Projected USWNT starting 11: (4-4-2) - Alyssa Naeher; Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Casey Short; Crystal Dunn, Julie Ertz, Samantha Mewis, Mallory Pugh; Christen Press, Alex Morgan
Projected New Zealand starting 11: (4-3-3) - Erin Nayler; Ria Percival, Anna Green, Rebekah Stott, Ali Riley; Amber Hearn, Annalie Longo, Betsy Hassett; Katie Bowen, Meikayala Moore, Hannah Wilkinson
What are you drinking?: It’s a super late game so water.
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