Not a competition year? No problem. The US women’s national team is staying busy by filling up every possible FIFA window with a friendly game.
After SheBelieves in March and home friendlies with Russia in April, the WNT will travel to Europe for two away games. One of them has been confirmed as an away friendly against Norway in Sandefjord on June 11 at 7:15 PM ET. If the other is not also against Norway, odds are good it will also be against a team preparing for Euros (Sweden rematch?).
The US and Norway last met at the Algarve Cup in 2015, where the USWNT won 2-1. Norway will be hip-deep in their Euro preparations time and should provide an extremely entertaining opponent.
This will be the first American away friendly in two years. USSF seems to like to set up the WNT at home, especially in big competition years, which combines minimal travel for their team with nice fat ticket sales. And everyone likes to play the United States, where they’re guaranteed a decent crowd and stiff competition.
This game against Norway takes place in the June 3-15 FIFA window and will almost certainly pull NT players away from their club teams. USSF doesn’t seem to particularly care about disrupting NWSL, though, as this is status quo for them. There’s another FIFA window July 16 through August 6 to allow for Euros; hopefully USSF will leave that one alone, both to avoid competing with Euros, which will pull away a lot of quality opponents, and to give most of the team time to rest and stay in-market with their clubs. But there are rumors that the US will participate in a what sounds like an invitational tournament along with Brazil, Japan and Australia, as reported by Globo.
Assuming the tournament is televised properly in the United States, it could certainly help give a small bump to NWSL in the same way the World Cup and the Olympics do, and wouldn’t be quite as disruptive as those much larger tournaments. But with friendlies in April and June as well, the schedule for the WNT quite frankly seems a bit excessive. Though the full NWSL schedule isn’t out yet, players will already be pulled away for NWSL preseason, which begins in April. USSF could have let the June window pass and just scheduled for July without hurting the team’s preparedness. With NWSL rosters tight at 20 players, it would also help keep player rested, as many teams cannot really afford to let returning NT players sit out an extra game while they recover, especially if they’ve also lost some of the international players to the Euros. At least Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn won’t have that far to travel?
Relax, USSF. We promise skipping one FIFA window won’t hurt the USWNT. In fact, they could probably do as much to help the USWNT by keeping them with their clubs in a regular training environment and helping NWSL keep a steady schedule, which improves the league, which in turn loops right back around to being good for the WNT.
Confirmed WNT 2017 schedule:
March 1 - 7: SheBelieves tournament
April 6: USA vs Russia, Frisco, Texas
April 9: USA vs Russia, Houston, Texas
June 11: USA vs Norway, Sandefjord, Norway