The United States Women’s National Team returns to action for the first time since the Olympics on Thursday when it faces off against Thailand for the first time ever at the MAPFRE stadium in Columbus, Ohio at 8 p.m. ET.
Heather O’Reilly will play in her last ever international match after announcing her retirement from international soccer earlier this month. O’Reilly has 46 goals in 230 appearances over the last 15 years, and has won three Olympic gold medals in 2004, 2008, 2012, and one World Cup in 2015.
The US will return the 19-player roster from the team that competed at the Olympics, with the absence of midfielder Morgan O’Brien with concussion-like symptoms, and Mallory Pugh who continues to rehab her ankle.
The American women will look to continue their impressive record in 2016, having won 16 matches with the only blemishes being two ties and a penalty shootout loss to Sweden. Through 19 contests, the Americans have scored 58 goals, with 35 of them coming from the trio of Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.
That trio will look to score against an up-and-coming Thailand team, which qualified for its first ever World Cup in 2015. Thailand exited out of the group stage after a 4-0 loss to then first-ranked Germany, but the squad achieved a historic 3-2 win over Ivory Coast. Thailand is currently ranked No. 34 in the world and has not played since August 4, when it defeated nearby Vietnam 6-5 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw.
All but two players of Thailand’s squad play domestically in Thailand, with forwards Thanatta Chawong and Taneekarn Dangda plying their trade for Ostersunds DFF in Sweden. Chawong has 23 goals in 63 caps. Kanjana Sungngoen will be the player to watch on Thailand, as she has 30 goals in 47 appearances internationally.
Some interesting selection questions for Jill Ellis are who she picks at keeper in Hope Solo’s absence between Ashlyn Harris or Alyssa Naeher, and how many minutes she gives to NWSL stars already in the playoffs, as the postseason kicks off in two weeks.
The night however will likely be remembered as Heather O’Reilly’s last in the stars and stripes, and it should be a comfortable one with all the firepower the USA has in its lineup.
U.S. Women’s National Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), 22-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)
DEFENDERS (7): 6-Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), 8-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 7-Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City, 21-Emily Sonnett(Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), 19-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), 10-Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), 3-Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), 20-Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), 9-Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), 15-Megan Rapinoe(Seattle Reign)
FORWARDS (3): 16-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), 12-Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars)
How to watch: ESPN 2, WatchESPN