The 2018 Tournament of Nations is almost upon us. This year, USSF’s summer mini-tourno will take place from July 26 - August 2 at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, and Toyota Park in Bridgeview. You can see the full schedule below.
Australia won the 2017 Tournament of Nations, making a rather bold statement with their combined victories over the United States, Japan, and Brazil. It was as good an announcement as any that Australia was more than ready to mingle with the top world powers in women’s soccer, something they’d been building towards for probably a decade or so. This is a chance for the US to once again meet a team that might be their latest boogeyman.
The tone for ToN will probably be a little different this year; in 2017, the United States came dead last in SheBelieves, and they undoubtedly wanted to came out swinging in their next big event (mission partially accomplished?). This year, the United States was top of SheBelieves, although they kind of scraped together their standing at the top with 1-0, 1-1, and 1-0 wins over Germany, France, and England respectively. The win against England was an own goal as well.
In terms of roster, there probably won’t be a ton of differences. We’ll see if Jill Ellis decides to give Taylor Smith another chance after dropping her pretty unceremoniously from the roster. Smith hasn’t quite risen to the challenge as she struggles with the Washington Spirit, so it’ll be interesting to see how Ellis bolsters the depth of her fullbacks. We’ll also see if Christen Press returns to the fold. She wasn’t called up for the two friendlies against Mexico in April, with Ellis citing Press’ lack of a club at the time. Press has since landed with Göteborg FC in Sweden and has been scoring goals left and right for them.
The locations for ToN might be a bit of a poke in the eye for west coast fans, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest. Game scheduling is a juggling act between stadium availability, potential audience, TV scheduling, avoiding markets where the team has recently played, and other factors. The last time the USWNT was on the American west coast proper was January of this year, when they played Denmark in San Diego. They were in Seattle in July 2017 for last year’s ToN and the last time they were in Portland - arguably as close to a guaranteed sellout as there is - was when Providence Park was still called JELD-WEN Field, in November of 2012 for a friendly against the Republic of Ireland. USSF may consider Portland one of the markets where they actually don’t have to bring the WNT in order to market them, with fans there following women’s soccer regardless of local NT games, making Portland perhaps a victim of its own success.
Regardless of location, ToN is a fun time with fun opponents. It should only interfere with one NWSL game, Chicago vs Sky Blue on July 28, although there is a planned International Champions Cup planned that same weekend, with the North Carolina Courage playing in a four-team tournament alongside Manchester City, PSG, and Chelsea down in Florida. Brazil, Japan, and Australia all have players in NWSL too, making ToN a nice opportunity for some crossover attention for the league while giving the USWNT three games against high-level opponents.
USA vs Japan
Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, Kansas
7 PM ET, FS1
USA vs Australia
Pratt & Whitney Stadium, East Hartford, Connecticut
7 PM ET, FS1
USA vs Brazil
Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
8:30 PM ET, FS1