The United States women’s national team will play Denmark to kick off their 2018. There’s a lot to anticipate about this matchup, not least of which is that Denmark is the Euro 2017 runner up and can field a really exciting attacking team. The corollary here is, of course, that this will be a challenge for the USWNT defense.
The WNT will be without stalwart center back anchor Becky Sauerbrunn for the first time in a long while, leaving it to some combo of Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, and Tierna Davidson to maintain a sense of calm in front of goal. There’s also the continued conversion of Sofia Huerta into a right back - will Jill Ellis take a risk in testing Huerta against a very strong opponent like Denmark, or will she simply mix and match Kelley O’Hara, Casey Short, and Taylor Smith? There’s also Meghan Klingenberg, returned to the fold after a lengthy absence, giving Ellis plenty of options on both the left and right before she ever reaches Huerta on the fullback depth chart.
Other players to watch are Andi Sullivan and Savannah McCaskill, just drafted at #1 and #2 into the NWSL respectively. Sullivan has already begun carving out a place in the mdifield, but McCaskill will have a harder time elbowing her way into the attacking pool. But if McCaskill can convince Ellis to give her a chance to show her quality at complementing Alex Morgan or Christen Press, she could create some nice competition in camp.
The Denmark player most US fans will probably be familiar with will be forward Nadia Nadim, but they should also be wary of Pernille Harder, who can score with head or feet in front of goal and has a good sense of how to place the ball, as well as the ability to strike a lovely dead ball.
Overall this should be a really fun game and even though Denmark has undoubtedly fallen off from the peak of their Euro form, they’ll still provide an interesting challenge.
GOALKEEPERS (4): 18-Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 2/0), 21-Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris(Orlando Pride; 14/0), 1-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 23/0)
DEFENDERS (8): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 13/0), 17-Tierna Davidson (Stanford), 25-Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), 7-Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC; 73/3), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 104/2), 2-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 19/0), 22-Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit; 7/0), 16-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 12/0),
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 57/14), 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 44/4), 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 246/98); 20-Allie Long (Seattle Reign; 33/6), 6-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 7/0)
FORWARDS (7): 19-Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC; 57/22), 26-Savannah McCaskill (Boston Breakers; 0/0), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 134/80); 23-Christen Press (Houston Dash; 96/44), 11-Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 29/6), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign; 129/34), 12-Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 15/4)
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Stina Lykke Petersen (Kolding Q), 22-Line Johansen (Unattached)
DEFENDERS (5): 3-Janni Arnth (Linköpings FC, Sweden), 8-Theresa Nielsen (Unattached), 18-Mie Leth Jans (Manchester City, England), 19-Cecilie Sandvej (1. FFC Frankfurt (Germany), 20-Stine Ballisager Pedersen (VSK Aarhus)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 4-Maja Kildemoes (Linköpings FC, Sweden), 6-Nanna Christiansen (Brøndby IF), 7-Sanne Troelsgaard (FC Rosengård, Sweden), 11-Katrine Veje (Montpellier HSC, France), 13-Sofie Junge Pedersen (Levante UD, Spain), 15-Frederikke Thøgersen (Fortuna Hjørring), 21-Sarah Dyrehauge (Fortuna Hjørring)
FORWARDS (6): 9-Nadia Nadim (Manchester City, England), 10-Pernille Harder (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany), 12-Stine Larsen (Brøndby IF), 14-Nicoline Sørensen (Linköpings FC, Sweden), 17-Signe Bruun (Fortuna Hjørring), 23-Caroline Moeller (Fortuna Hjørring)
How to watch:
USA vs. Denmark
Sunday, Jan. 21, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
SDCC Union Stadium, San Diego