The United States Women’s National Team will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 13 games as they take on Mexico Women’s National Team in Jacksonville, Florida tomorrow night at 7 p.m. on FS1. The game will mark the first match up between the US and their rivals to the south since their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match in 2016.
Young Talent on Both Sides
After the loss to Sweden in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Rio Olympics, head coach Jill Ellis set out to change the US pool by looking at the young, talented players in the NWSL and in college. Ellis has called in over 50 different players with almost all of them being under the age of 25. It has been more recently, though, that younger players have broken in.
Andi Sullivan, the number one draft pick in this years’ draft, was called in at the end of 2016, but missed most of 2017 with an ACL tear. Since the beginning of the year, she has received call-ups to each of the three camps. Tierna Davidson, the Stanford sophomore and Savannah McCaskill, the number two draft pick, have both been called up and received caps this year with Davidson seeing action in each of the four games.
Defender Emily Sonnett has fallen back into favor with Ellis after a strong performance with the Portland Thorns in 2017. Before this year, her last action with the United States was in November 2016. Ellis has also called in Ashley Hatch of the Washington Spirit, the 2017 NWSL rookie of the year with the North Carolina Courage, who previously has one cap. Three new players that Ellis will have a look at include Hallie Mace of UCLA, Tegan McGrady, also of Stanford, and Haley Hanson, the Houston Dash’s first-round pick.
Mexico has also seen an array of young talent that will challenge the US. Starting Goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago is just 23 years old but has 48 caps already. Sky Blue FC forward Katie Johnson will also face the US and has 12 caps and three goals with El Tri. Sky Blue forward Kiana Palacios, 21, could also see some action in Jacksonville.
After the tumultuous start that 2017 saw, and the three home losses, the US is looking to maintain the momentum that this year has seen. Forward Mal Pugh, the leading-scorer for the US this year, will be looking to add to her total. Defender and co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn will return to the line-up after missing the past four matches with a stress reaction in her foot.
Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis are still sidelined with injury, so the midfield will look to Lindsey Horan and Morgan Brian along with Sullivan to make their impact. Look for Carli Lloyd off the bench as she continues her quest to reach 100 goals. The 35-year-old co-captain is currently at 98 goals.
With Kelley O’Hara out with injury, Chicago Red Stars and former Mexico WNT player Sofia Huerta could see some action as an outside back. Huerta originally represented Mexico but made the one-time switch to represent the US in September. And Megan Rapione and Alex Morgan will look to continue their hot-streak to help the United States earn their 33rd win against Mexico.
While the US has dominated the series, it may not be as easy as it once was- the last time they played the US won 1-0 with an 80th minute goal. This might also be the last time the US plays a CONCACAF opponent until their World Cup qualifiers in October.