Date: Wednesday, Oct. 19
Time: 9:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah
All-time record: 2-0
The United States Women’s National Team resets its cycle after this Olympics this summer and the conclusion of the NWSL season. It hosts two friendlies against Switzerland, the first in Utah tonight and the second in Minneapolis on Sunday. The big headline for the USWNT is the injection of youth into the squad, as head coach Jill Ellis called up 11 uncapped players as she begins preparing for the Women’s World Cup in 2019:
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position:
DEFENDERS (7): 14-Abby Dahlkemper (Western New York Flash), 11-Arin Gilliland (Chicago Red Stars), 15-Merritt Mathias (Seattle Reign), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), 8-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), 12-Emily Sonnett(Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 6-Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), 22-Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars), 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), 20-Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), 3-Samantha Mewis(Western New York Flash), 19-Andi Sullivan (Stanford)
FORWARDS (6): 16-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 2-Shea Groom (FC Kansas City), 21-Ashley Hatch (BYU), 7-Kealia Ohai (Houston Dash), 23-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), 13-Lynn Williams (Western New York Flash)
What to watch for Switzerland
Switzerland is a solid team, ranked 15th in the world. The Swiss recently qualified for the Euro 2017 by winning all eight qualifying matches with a combined 34-3 margin. In the 2015 World Cup, the side advanced as a third place team to the knockout stage before losing a tight 1-0 match to the hosts Canada.
The Swiss roster is comprised of experienced international players, with nine playing their club football in Germany. The players to watch will be Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic, scored 7 goals in qualifying, and defender Caroline Abbe, the captain with 120 caps who plays for Bayern Munich. Crnogorcevic converted a penalty kick in 2014 and is the player to have scored against the US.
An experienced side just bordering on the most competitive teams in the world will be a good test for an unproven American squad.
What to watch for the USA
As noted, this match should be an introduction to the next generation of American contributors, with all 11 uncapped players previously having appeared for a youth national side. Eight of the players hail from the NWSL and three are from college. Highlighting the uncapped talent is Lynn Williams, who scored the dramatic game-tying goal in the 124th minute of the NWSL Championship and was named the NWSL MVP.
The next set of friendlies is an opportunity for forwards Christen Press and Krystal Dunn to make their team their own. Despite the fact that Alex Morgan is the USA’s go-to striker, she is not in the squad and both Press and Dunn have appeared in every match in 2016 and are explosive goal scorers. A 2019 front three of Morgan, Dunn, and Press should scare every other national team, especially if the 24-year old Dunn continues to mature her already-impressive game.
Another ongoing storyline is the goalkeeping dilemma in the post-Hope Solo era. While Solo will return, the number two and three spots are up for grabs. Both Alyssa Naeher and Ashlyn Harris appeared in the September friendlies are probably are the current favorites, but Jane Campbell, the ‘keeper of the best team in college soccer, could make a push in the next three years, especially as she likely enters the NWSL. At age 17, she was called up for a senior team training camp to train with Hope Solo.
What to expect
The match should be a good barometer of the talent Jill Ellis would like to eventually fold into her squad in the next few years. While NWSL die-hards likely won’t be surprised, these friendlies begin the hype-train for most USWNT fans as they really get to know these young players for the first time. Switzerland should give the US a decent run for its money, but with Carli Lloyd available at a home match, the USA should take home the spoils by two goals.