With Jacqueline Purdy.
The Tournament of Nations begins on Thursday in Seattle and we are just a little excited. Thirty-four NWSL players — including the top four goalscorers in the league (Megan Rapinoe, Sam Kerr, Marta and Christen Press) and the only active FIFA World Player of the Years winners (Carli Lloyd and Marta) — will be in action, representing all four teams in the tournament: the United States, Australia, Brazil and Japan.
So far this season in the NWSL, players at the Tournament of Nations have scored 77 goals, added 38 assists and logged 35,174 total minutes played in 425 appearances. The four goalkeepers on the rosters have also added 12 clean sheets and 137 saves.
Here are all the details for the Tournament of Nations, including how to watch and every team’s full roster, plus thoughts from four NWSL players as they kick off tonight and represent their home nations.Everything you need to know about the Tournament of Nations
The inaugural edition of the four-team tournament will have match days on July 27 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle and July 30 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego before concluding Aug. 3 at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
The plan is for U.S. Soccer to host the tournament every summer that does not have the FIFA Women’s World Cup or Olympics. The four teams ready to feature in the inaugural tournament are also slated to compete in the 2018 edition.
The four countries will play a single-game, round-robin tournament with the winner decided by which team has the most points after Match Day 3. Ties will be broken in order by goal difference, goals scored, head-to-head record and finally FIFA ranking.
All 23 players on the roster will suit up for each match. Teams are allowed six substitutes per match.
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) July 25, 2017
Some other news and notes:
U.S. Soccer and the women’s national team will honor former head coach Tony DiCicco during the team’s first match of the tournament. Players will wear black armbands with the initials “TD” during the match. The crowd will also be asked to stand during the ninth minute of the game against Australia, for a minute of applause to celebrate DiCicco’s career and his success in leading the USWNT to winning the 1999 Women’s World Cup. DiCicco passed away on June 19.
U.S. Soccer notes that the purpose of Tournament of Nations is different than the SheBelieves Cup. While SheBelieves is focused on the team’s campaign to empower young girls and women, this tournament’s significance is a showcase for the global game and its increasingly competitive nature.
According to the Federation, “the 2017 Tournament of Nations will focus on the ability of international soccer to create connections across geography and culture. The Tournament of Nations is a competition that speaks to the diversity of of our fans and their respect for the game world-wide, which facilitates global connections both on and off the field.”How to watch and follow #ToN2017
All six games will be available to watch in the U.S. via the ESPN family of networks. All non-USA games will be streamed via ESPN3. The opening game of the tournament for the USWNT will air on ESPN, with the following two USA games on ESPN2. Fans can also use WatchESPN for online viewing.
NWSL fans can follow all the Tournament of Nations action via the NWSL website and mobile app, as well as using the hashtag #ToN2017 and following the league’s social media on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
Each game will also feature its own hashtag.
Thursday, July 27 at CenturyLink Field (Seattle, Washington)
Brazil vs. Japan #BRAvJPN
7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN3
USA vs. Australia #USAvAUS
10 p.m. ET, ESPN and UDN
Sunday, July 30 at Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego, California)
Japan vs. Australia #JPNvAUS
5:15 p.m. ET, ESPN3
USA vs. Brazil #USAvBRA
8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Thursday, August 3 at StubHub Center (Carson, California)
Australia vs. Brazil #AUSvBRA
7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN3
USA vs. Japan #USAvJPN
10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Match guides for those attending the games are in person are also available on the U.S. Soccer website for all three USWNT matches. Tickets are also still available via TicketMaster.Previewing the U.S. women’s national team
NWSL players on roster: 22
Current FIFA Ranking: 1
USWNT vs. Australia all-time: 25-0-2
USWNT vs. Brazil all-time: 26-3-5
USWNT vs. Japan all-time: 26-1-7
All 10 NWSL clubs are represented on the U.S. women’s national team roster, with leading scorer and reigning (no pun intended) Player of the Month and Player of the Week Megan Rapinoe of Seattle Reign FC leading the charge. She’s joined by plenty of familiar faces, such as Becky Sauerbrunn, Carli Lloyd and Christen Press. Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan also returns to the national team after missing out on June friendlies due to a hamstring injury.
There are also a few players on milestone watches, with Lloyd having scored 97 goals for country. Orlando Pride defender Ali Krieger could also hit 100 appearances for the U.S. women’s national team during this tournament.
As for the reasoning for roster selection for the 23-player roster, head coach Jill Ellis said in a Q&A: “As a staff, we’ve watched a lot of league games in the first half of the season and that certainly played a role in our selection for this roster. With three games against such high caliber opponents in eight days, and considering where our players are in their league seasons, we always have to factor in coverage and depth in player selection. I think this roster checks a lot of boxes with respect to where we are in our cycle; we have the capacity to look at new players, gain experience for others, and it gives us versatility within the team to have coverage and competition in positions.”
"I think this roster checks a lot of boxes with respect to where we are in our cycle…”
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) July 20, 2017
Alyssa Naeher, Chicago Red Stars goalkeeper:
On how she feels heading into the tournament:
Obviously, we have three quality teams to play against. I think that kinda just goes along with — all year we’ve been playing the best of the best and this is another opportunity for us as a team to get three more really good, high-level games in. I think that, in and of itself, is exciting.
On having a large number of NWSL players in the tournament:
It’s a big statement. The NWSL has the potential to be one of the, if not the best, league in the world and I think that that is something that every team, every player, every owner, U.S. Soccer, we all want that. We want our league to be the league that everybody around the world wants to come to. We want to attract the top players, the top talent, because that’s only going to make our league stronger and the strongest. That’s a big statement, to have 34 players across four teams internationally that are coming from this league.
On facing long-time rivals Brazil and Japan:
Brazil is always a special team. It’s a huge part of their culture. They’re creative, they’re technical, they’re crafty. I think that each team presents different challenges to go against. Japan is very organized, very skilled, very technical. I think it’s always a good opportunity to go against those types of teams, two very different opponents. Each present different challenges that we can face and it’s only going to help us going forward when we have to play those teams in different world championship events.
U.S. Women’s National Team 2017 Tournament of Nations Roster by Position:
DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars), Taylor Smith (NC Courage)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage), Margaret Purce (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (7): Crystal Dunn (Chelsea FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Sydney Leroux (FC Kansas City), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit), Lynn Williams (NC Courage)Previewing Australia
NWSL players on roster: 5
Current FIFA Ranking: 7
World Cup Appearances: 6 (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)
Best Women’s World Cup finish: Quarterfinal — 2007, 2011, 2015
Head coach: Alen Stajcic
Australia made it to the quarterfinals of the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, losing 1-0 to Japan, after knocking out Brazil in the Round of 16. At the Olympics in 2016, Australia lost to Brazil in the quarterfinals in sudden death penalty kicks.
The Tournament of Nations will be a good trial run for Australia, who are still looking to prove they can go deep into international tournaments. “We’ve got that belief in the team now,” head coach Alen Stajcic said, “that we’re good enough to compete with anyone. But we’ve got to do it every day. You get to a World Cup or an Olympic games, and it’s one off day and you’re out. We can’t afford to have those off days.”
— Westfield Matildas (@TheMatildas) July 17, 2017
Steph Catley, Orlando Pride defender:
On Australia’s success in the NWSL this season:
We’ve got a lot of players over here doing really, really well at the moment. Especially, obviously, Sam Kerr in the last couple of weeks, she’s been really firing. Hopefully we can take that form into the Tournament of Nations, but we’ve got a lot of players over here. Seems like most of them are in good form. There’s a lot of players in Japan, and Norway and all over the world, so hopefully everyone comes in in good form and we can really give that tournament a run for its money.
On the atmosphere for the tournament and playing against teammates:
I’ve played in the U.S. a couple of times against the U.S. and it’s always a really, really good show. They always get a big crowd and have amazing stadiums and the atmosphere is incredible. It’s always interesting coming up against your teammates that you’ve played with at club level. It’s sort of an advantage that they know us and it’s an advantage that we know them a little bit. We’ll just have to wait and see, but it should be a quality tournament. I can’t wait.
On facing Brazil after the 2015 Women’s World Cup Round of 16 (a 1-0 win for Australia) and the 2016 Olympic quarterfinals (won by Brazil in sudden death PKs):
We’ve had some really, really tense games at sort of quarterfinal levels of big tournaments. We’ve come out on top of one and they’ve come out on top of another one. That last game was obviously huge and massive for both teams, and they obviously came out on top of that one. … Both ends are always close. They’re always quality. Hopefully we can go one up this time.
Australia Women’s National Team 2017 Tournament of Nations Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar, Australia), Lydia Williams (Houston Dash)
DEFENDERS (8): Laura Alleway (Unattached), Ellie Carpenter (Western Sydney Wanderers FC, Australia), Steph Catley (Orlando Pride), Caitlin Cooper (Illawarra Stingrays, Australia), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar FC, Australia), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns), Gema Simon (Avaldsnes, Norway)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Tameka Butt (Klepp I-L, Norway), Alex Chidiac (Adelaide City Women’s, Australia), Katrina Gorry (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Elise Kellond-Knight (FC Turbine Potsdam, Germany), Chloe Logarzo (Avaldsnes, Norway), Emily van Egmond (VfL Wolfsburg, Germany)
FORWARDS (5): Lisa De Vanna (South Melbourne Women’s, Australia), Caitlin Foord (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Emily Gielnik (Avaldsnes, Norway), Princess Ibini (Football NSW NTC, Australia), Sam Kerr (Sky Blue FC)Previewing Brazil
NWSL players on roster: 6
Current FIFA Ranking: 8
World Cup Appearances: 7 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)
Best Women’s World Cup finish: 3rd place — 1999
Head coach: Emily Lima
Brazil lost in the Round of 16 at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, 1-0 to Australia. The next year, Brazil ousted Australia from the Olympics in Rio in sudden death penalty kicks, but fell in the semifinals to Sweden (in penalty kicks) and ultimately finished fourth.
Brazilian superstar Marta joined the the Orlando Pride this season and has been off to a strong start in her NWSL career. She’s tied for third in the league with eight goals and second in the league with four assists. One of the players she’s tied with in assists is fellow Brazilian and Pride teammate Camila.
The two recently spoke with Lifetime about their partnership on the field:
Andressinha, Houston Dash midfielder
On earning Player of the Week honors:
I am honored to receive that recognition, but it was a team effort. We have earned a lot of important points at home and now we will try to do the same when we return. I feel good, I am excited to join the national team and play against some of the best teams in the world. We open with Japan, a very talented team and we look forward to the whole tournament.
On Brazil’s success in the NWSL:
I am excited to see fellow Brazilians succeed in the league, like Poliana here in Houston. Poli is a quality player, that is what brought her here to Houston. She has played a huge role in the turnaround we are experiencing now and I’m happy for her. Then you see the impact of players like Marta and I hope to see more players play in this league.
On playing against the United States in the Tournament of Nations:
I am excited to take part in this series. You grow up watching the Olympics and other tournaments where these two nations face off and there are a lot of memorable moments. We respect the U.S., they are the current World Champions. When we play them it will be a wonderful event and I look forward to playing against familiar faces. For myself, Monica, Marta and others that play in the league, we are very familiar with the quality they bring to the field. That’s the great thing about playing in this league, you play against the best every week.
Brazil Women’s National Team 2017 Tournament of Nations Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Bárbara (SE Kindermann, Brazil), Dani Neuhaus (Santos, Brazil)
DEFENDERS (7): Bruna Benites (Houston Dash), Jucinara (Corinthians/Audax, Brazil), Leticia (SC Sand, Germany), Maurine (Santos, Brazil), Monica (Orlando Pride), Andreia Rosa (Avaldsnes IL, Norway), Tamires (Fortuna Hjørring, Denmark)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Andressinha (Houston Dash), Camila (Orlando Pride), Debinha (North Carolina Courage), Djenifer (Iranduba, Brazil), Fran (Avaldsnes IL, Norway), Maria (Santos, Brazil), Gabi Nunes (Corinthians/Audax, Brazil)
FORWARDS (4): Chu (São José EC), Ludmila (São José EC), Marta (Orlando Pride), Bia Zaneratto (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels, South Korea)Previewing Japan
NWSL players on roster: 1
Current FIFA Ranking: 6
World Cup Appearances: 7 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015)
Best Women’s World Cup finish: Champions — 2011
Head coach: Asako Takakura
Japan finished second at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, losing 5-2 to the United States in the final, but failed to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
— jfa_en (@jfa_en) July 14, 2017
For Japan, head coach Asako Takakura has two goals in mind for Tournament of Nations, without sacrificing the will to win games.
“We have tried various players to get to know them better, and now I think that it’s time for us to stick to getting victories more than before considering the upcoming Asian Cup in April of next year. In the previous tour to the Netherlands and Belgium, we tried a new formation, this time I want the matches to have two different main things: broaden the team’s capacity and improving the team’s strengths. The 4 new players were always in my mind. Judging by their performances in the league’s matches, I could see their condition were getting better and I wanted them to add some new power to energise the team. This was why I called up these players for the first time. To grow up as a team, we all do our best in this occasion.”
Rumi Utsugi, Seattle Reign FC midfielder
On the Japan squad heading into Tournament of Nations:
It has been a bit more than one year with the new coach and the team is growing in technics, physical, strategy. The team has good balance between players which continue to increase our level.
On opening the tournament in Seattle:
It is exciting that Japan will play the first game in Seattle where I play usually. I hope really that the fans, teammates and staffs will come and enjoy watching the game of Japan vs. Brazil. It is also an opportunity for them to discover the Japanese style of play. Of course, I want to win this game.
On what it’s like to play against the United States:
I always feel that the game with the USA is special. Of course, to win is important but I feel also proud of playing. It is my first game against USA after one year of being here myself in the USA so I am really excited to play this game and perform the best play I can do.
Japan Women’s National Team 2017 Tournament of Nations Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), Ayaka Saitoh (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Ayaka Yamashita (Nippon TV Beleza, Japan)
DEFENDERS (7): Nana Ichise (Vegalta Sendai, Japan), Hikaru Kitagawa (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), Kaede Nakamura (Albirex Niigata, Japan), Ayumi Oya (Ehime FC, Japan), Riho Sakamoto (AC Nagano Parceiro, Japan), Aya Sameshima (INAC Kobe Leonessa, Japan), Hikari Takagi (Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara, Japan)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Madoka Haji (Iga FC Kunoichi, Japan), Yui Hasegawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Yu Nakasato (Nippon TV Beleza), Hikaru Naomoto (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), Mizuho Sakaguchi (Nippon TV Beleza), Rin Sumida (Nippon TV Beleza), Rumi Utsugi (Seattle Reign)
FORWARDS (5): Yuka Momiki (Nippon TV Beleza), Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds, Japan), Mina Tanaka (Nippon TV Beleza), Shiho Tomari (AC Nagano Parceiro), Kumi Yokoyama (FFC Frankfurt, Germany)