With its usual quadrennial stroll through the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifiers out of the way, the U.S. WNT take on bigger game beginning this Thursday in the #SheBelieves Cup facing Germany, France, and England, in the new event running from March 3 through March 9.
The tournament is the brainchild of the U.S. Women’s National Team players and is billed (via a statement released by U.S. Soccer) as: “a movement to inspire young girls and encourage them to accomplish all their goals and dreams, athletic or otherwise. The campaign launched in the run-up to the 2015 Women’s World Cup and has grown since then as the team and its fans have taken its powerful message into their communities. The SheBelieves Cup adds a showcase event to the campaign, which will continue to spread its positive message to young women and girls.”
With August and the Rio Olympics fast approaching this should be a highly competitive series featuring four of the top women’s teams on the planet.
U.S. coach Jill Ellis has called in 22 players to go against Germany (FIFA World Ranked number 2), France (number 3), and England (number 5). Ellis dropped just one of the 18 players from the Olympic qualifiers, leaving out Stephanie McCaffrey while adding Heather O’Reilly, Whitney Engen and Lauren Barnes.
With 228 caps to her name O’Reilly was something of a surprise omission from the CONCACAF squad. Her recall doesn’t assure the veteran of a place in Rio but it does put O’Reilly back in the conversation and certainly does not bode well for McCaffrey, a younger player who possesses a similar skill set to O’Reilly.
Like O’Reilly, center back Whitney Engen was a member of the 2015 World Cup team, and although Engen did not see action in Canada, she will be looking at the #SheBelieves Cup as a last chance to play her way onto the Olympic panel.
Seattle Reign defender Lauren Barnes is the one completely new face called in by Ellis and she will be looking to earn her first full national team cap while fighting an uphill battle to win a place on the plane to Rio.
The SheBelieves Cup will be played out as a series of doubleheaders at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida (March 3), Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee on (March 6) and at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida on (March 9).
Here is the schedule for the inaugural SheBelieves Cup.
March 3: Tampa, Florida at Raymond James Stadium
Germany vs France – 5PM ET
USA vs England – 7:30PM ET (Fox Soccer 1)
March 6: Nashville, Tennessee at Nissan Stadium
USA vs France – 3PM ET (ESPN 3)
England vs Germany – 5:30PM ET
March 9: Boca Raton, Florida at FAU Stadium
France vs England – 5PM ET
USA vs Germany – 7:30PM ET (ESPN 3)
Tickets for all three doubleheaders are on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers in the local venue areas. [Note: Tickets are not sold at either Raymond James Stadium or FAU Stadium except on the day of the event.] Groups of 20 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com.
The winner of the tournament will be based on total points (three for a win, one for a tie), with the first tie-breaker being overall goal difference, followed by most total tournament goals scored, then head-to-head result and lastly (if necessary) FIFA Ranking.
GOALKEEPERS (3): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): Lauren Barnes (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Jaelene Hinkle (Western New York Flash), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)
Head coach: Jill Ellis
GOALKEEPERS (3): Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Notts County)
DEFENDERS (9): Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Manchester City), Gilly Flaherty (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Claire Rafferty (Chelsea), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Casey Stoney (Arsenal)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Katie Chapman (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Arsenal)
FORWARDS (6): Eniola Aluko (Chelsea), Karen Carney (Chelsea), Gemma Davison (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Manchester City), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Jodie Taylor (Portland Thorns FC)
Head coach: Mark Sampson
GOALKEEPERS (3): Laura Benkarth (SC Freiburg), Almuth Schult (VfL Wolfsburg), Lisa Weiß (SGS Essen)
DEFENDERS (7): Saskia Bartusiak (1. FFC Frankfurt), Kathrin Hendrich (1. FFC Frankfurt), Josephine Henning (Arsenal Ladies), Tabea Kemme (1. FFC Turbine Potsdam), Annike Krahn (Bayer 04 Leverkusen), Leonie Maier (FC Bayern München), Babett Peter (VfL Wolfsburg)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Melanie Behringer (FC Bayern München), Anna Blässe (VfL Wolfsburg), Sara Däbritz (FC Bayern München), Sara Doorsoun (SGS Essen), Lena Goeßling (VfL Wolfsburg), Svenja Huth (Vfl Wolfsburg), Isabel Kerschowski (VfL Wolfsburg)
FORWARDS (6): Mandy Islacker (1. FFC Frankfurt), Lina Magull (SC Freiburg), Dzsenifer Marozsan (1. FFC Frankfurt), Anja Mittag (Paris St. Germain FC), Lena Petermann (SC Freiburg), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg)
Head coach: Silvia Neid
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sarah Bouhaddi (Olympique Lyonnais), Méline Gerard (Olympique Lyonnais), Laëtitia Philippe (Montpellier HSC)
DEFENDERS (7): Sabrina Delannoy (Paris Saint-Germain), Kelly Gadea (Montpellier HSC), Laura Georges (Paris Saint-Germain), Jessica Houara D’Hommeaux (Paris Saint-Germain), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier HSC), Amel Majri (Olympique Lyonnais), Griedge Mbock Bathy (Olympique Lyonnais)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Camille Abily (Olympique Lyonnais), Viviane Asseyi (Montpellier HSC), Charlotte Bilbault (FCF Juvisy), Elise Bussaglia (Vfl Wolfsburg), Kadidiatou Diani (FCF Juvisy), Kheira Hamraoui (Paris Saint-Germain), Aurélie Kaci (Olympique Lyonnais), Marie-Charlotte Leger (Montpellier HSC), Elodie Thomis (Olympique Lyonnais)
FORWARDS (4): Marie-Laure Delie (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Claire Lavogez (Olympique Lyonnais), Eugénie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyonnais), Louisa Necib (Olympique Lyonnais)
Head coach: Philippe Bergeroo