12/12/2018: UPDATED with the WNT’s May 16 opponent
The US women’s national team has released their pre-World Cup schedule for 2019, and they’ll be playing 10 games in the five months leading up the tournament as part of what US Soccer is calling “Countdown to the Cup.”
Sports Business Daily’s Ian Thomas has the list so far ahead of US Soccer’s official press release:
January 19 - Away at France, Le Havre
January 22 - Away at Spain, Alicante
February 27 - SheBelieves, vs Japan, Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, PA
March 2 - SheBelieves, vs England, Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
March 5 - SheBelieves, vs Brazil, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
April 4 - Australia, Dicks Sporting Goods Park, Denver, CO
April 7 - Belgium, Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, CA
May 12 - South Africa, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
May 16 - New Zealand, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
May 26 - Mexico, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ
The European away friendlies, SheBelieves, and the April friendlies fall within FIFA windows, but all the May friendlies are outside the calendar. These last three games will serve as a farewell series for the USWNT before they leave for the World Cup in France and will definitely pull them from their NWSL clubs leading into the tournament. Looking at those dates, you can probably expect a maximum of two weeks of national team players joining their clubs, if that.
This is a nice slate of opponents to get ready for the World Cup, though. At least half are top-10 teams, and Spain, Belgium, and Mexico are all up-and-comers. The biggest concern is keeping all the players healthy and getting them to peak at the right time. That is a busy schedule of friendlies, so let’s hope they’ve worked out the best way to balance game experience with rest. If you’ve got any good luck charms or rituals, please start breaking them out.