Since September 2016, the U.S. Women’s National Team has played seven European nations (and Thailand). In less than a month, that list will grow to nine as the USA takes on Sweden in Gothenburg on June 8 and Norway in Sandefjord on June 11.
The USA’s list of European opponents since last fall includes the Netherlands, two matches each against Switzerland and Romania, tough tests against England, France and Germany at the 2017 SheBelieves Cup and another double-dip against Russia in April.
So, besides belonging to the same Confederation, what do eight of these nine European countries have in common? They make up half of the field for 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO tournament taking place this July in the Netherlands. Romania nearly made it into the last 16 as well but fell to Portugal in the playoff for the final spot.
WNT vs. Netherlands, this year's EURO hosts.
The UEFA Women’s EURO is the most prestigious competition for women’s international soccer in Europe and, after the Women’s World Cup and the Olympic Games, the biggest and most competitive women’s international tournament in the world.
And facing the best is precisely what U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis committed to do coming out of the recent Olympic cycle.
“I said it last year, we want our schedule to be aggressive,” Ellis told ussoccer.com. “We’re always trying to play top-10 teams and elite teams. It’s a priority and our Federation knows it’s a priority for our team because it’s in those games where we will see growth. The games against European teams are critical.”
With the next Women’s World Cup in France, surely the European nations – especially France and Germany – will be favorites to lift the trophy in Lyon. By then, the USA clearly will have cut its teeth on European competition.
Including the games against Sweden and Norway, the U.S. will have played exactly half of the EURO field in less than a year, a rarity for most countries both in terms of the high level of opposition and the short amount of time in which the games have taken place.Read more
Photos from the U.S. Women’s National Team's 5-1 victory against Russia in front of 11,347 fans on a beautiful spring day at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. The match featured goals from Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn(2), as well as Rose Lavelle's first international goal in her fourth start for the WNT. Additionally, goalkeeper Jane Campbell made her senior team debut, becoming the first goalkeeper to earn a first cap since Dec. 18, 2014.Read more
Here we break down the most recent U.S. WNT camp by the numbers:
2000: U.S. WNT head coach Jill Ellis called a pair of very young players into the U.S. camp in Texas. The youngest of the two was Sophia Smith. Her birthday of Aug. 8, 2000 made her the first player to be called into a senior WNT event who was born in the new millennium.
98: Caps earned by Ali Krieger. She earned No. 98 after entering the game against on Russia on April 6, playing the final 45 minutes of the match. Krieger would become the 36th woman in WNT history to reach 100 caps.
97: Number of international goals scored by Carli Lloyd. After netting the first U.S. goal in the 5-1 win against Russia on April 9 via the penalty spot, Lloyd is now only three goals away from becoming the sixth player in WNT history to score 100 or more goals for the USA.