The United States Women’s National Team have embarked on a road trip to end 2021, as they will take on Australia in two friendlies: Friday night (Saturday afternoon local time) in Sydney and again next Tuesday morning (Tuesday night local time) in Newcastle. The Matildas have always been a terrific test for the USWNT, and they are hoping to end 2021 on a high note in front of their fans.
Australia is just 3-8-3 (W-L-D) in 2021, but they are still ranked 11th in the current FIFA World Rankings. They also finished 4th in the Olympics, just narrowly losing to the USWNT in the bronze medal match back in August. They most recently hosted Brazil in a pair of friendlies last month, their first home matches since March 2020 due to the restrictions imposed related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because of the excitement of hosting matches at home, coupled with the strength of the opponent in the United States and the fairly decent rivalry between the two teams, the Matildas have called in a roster that has quite a bit of experience. Nine players on the roster have more than 90 caps for Australia, with only two uncapped players on the roster.
The 25-player roster for the Matildas:
Goalkeepers (3): Mackenzie Arnold (West Ham United), Teagan Micah (FC Rosengård), Lydia Williams (Arsenal FC)
Defenders (9): Angela Beard (Fortuna Hjørring), Ellie Carpenter (Lyon), Steph Catley (Arsenal), Charlotte Grant (FC Rosengård), Alanna Kennedy (Manchester City), Jessika Nash (Sydney FC), Courtney Nevin (Melbourne Victory), Clare Polkinghome (Vittsjö GIK), Karly Roestbakken (LSK Kvinner)
Midfielders (4): Kyra Cooney-Cross (Melbourne Victory), Emily van Egmond (Orlando Pride), Clare Wheeler (Fortuna Hjørring), Tameka Yallop (West Ham United)
Forwards (9): Caitlin Foord (Arsenal), Mary Fowler (Montpellier), Emily Gielnik (Aston Villa), Byrleeh Henry (Western Sydney Wanderers), Sam Kerr (Chelsea FC), Hayley Raso (Manchester City), Charlize Rule (Sydney FC), Remy Siemsen (Sydney FC), Kyah Simon (Tottenham Hotspur)
Of course, one of the most dangerous players in the world is Sam Kerr, the captain of The Matildas and who is capable of going on a scoring tear at any moment. Other experienced attackers include Caitlin Foord, Emily van Egmond, and Kyah Simon, all of which have scored more than 20 international goals.
Recently, the Matildas, under head coach Tony Gustavsson, have started in a 4-1-4-1 lineup. However, during the Olympics, we saw the team operate in a 3-1-4-2 as well. Given that Gustavsson only called in 4 midfielders, it seems Australia will want to move the ball forward quickly to one of of the wingers or forwards that are operating in the midfield, with Sam Kerr standing alone up top as the main striker. They’ll look to swarm the defense with several attacking options in an attempt to take control of the tempo out of the hands of the American midfield.
The United States will have their hands full against an experienced and lethal Aussie squad. And with these matches taking place on the road half a world away, the Matildas will look to take it right to the USWNT in a bid to hand them a couple of upsets to finish out 2021.