A year full of key international tournaments and FIFA Women’s World Cup qualifying for the United States kicks off on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio when the U.S. women’s national team takes on Germany in their first game of the SheBelieves Cup (7 p.m. ET, ESPN2).
The United States is the No. 1 ranked team in the world and Germany is No. 2.
The tournament begins a few hours earlier in the day with (No. 3) England vs. (No. 6) France (4 p.m. ET, ESPN3). France won last year’s SheBelieves Cup with wins over England and the United States as well as a draw with Germany.
The U.S. women’s national team is looking to regain the trophy after last year’s loss. It’s also the first major tournament of a season that will also include the Tournament of Nations (vs. Brazil, Australia, Japan), before the CONCACAF Women’s Championship, North America’s qualifying tournament for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
“It’s a big year,” U.S. women’s national team head coach Jill Ellis said in a conference call with reporters earlier this month. “As I said to the players, every moment we have together, every match we have, is preparing us for October in terms of qualifying. This is the premiere tournament, some fantastic teams in here that are going to make it very competitive.”
They've won 10 out of 13 world titles. Thursday night they clash in Ohio.https://t.co/LhQI6hqT7W
— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) February 27, 2018
The games will be the first tournament experience for two of the NWSL’s newest members: Washington Spirit midfielder Andi Sullivan and Sky Blue FC forward Savannah McCaskill. The pair were drafted 1-2 in the 2018 NWSL College Draft in January. Sullivan has eight international appearances in her career and McCaskill earned her first cap in January vs. Denmark.
The U.S. comes into the tournament missing a few injured players. Spirit midfielder Rose Lavelle made her international debut at least year’s tournament, but has seen limited minutes since injuring her hamstring in June.
Lavelle was on the preliminary 26-player roster, but did not make the final roster announced Friday. Becky Sauerbrunn (foot), Sam Mewis (knee) and Tobin Heath (ankle) are also still out due to injury.
Germany comes into the tournament, like the rest of Europe, in the midst of World Cup qualifying. Though Germany sits at the top of their group, the two-time World Cup champions lost their first World Cup qualifier in 19 years last fall, a shocking 3-2 loss to Iceland, and were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 tournament.
Germany’s roster for the SheBelieves Cup is led by Lyon midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán and they are are coached by Steffi Jones. It’s the second SheBelieves Cup for Jones, who took over for Silvia Neid following the 2016 Olympics.
Last year’s winners, France, also enter the SheBelieves Cup after a disappointing Euros run last summer, which ended with a 1-0 quarterfinal loss to England.
Former Portland Thorns FC midfielder Amandine Henry is the captain of the French squad, which also features Lyon forward Eugénie Le Sommer.
France will play England for the first time since their Euro quarterfinal loss when the two teams meet on Thursday afternoon in Columbus. As the host nation, France is not part of Europe’s rigorous World Cup qualifying, so SheBelieves serves a key tune-up ahead of next year’s tournament.
For England, it’ll be their first tournament under new England coach Phil Neville, who was named manager in January following the firing of Mark Sampson last fall. England fell in the semifinals of last summer’s Euro tournament.
Euro 2017 Golden Boot winner Jodie Taylor, who will rejoin the NWSL this year after signing with Seattle Reign FC leads England’s roster. Other key members of England’s squad include forward Ellen White, whose goal beat the United States last year, and Houston Dash defender Rachel Daly, who was added to the roster on Saturday.
SheBelieves Cup Schedule:
March 1 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio
England vs. France | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN3
USA vs. Germany | 7 p.m. ET | ESPN2
March 4 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey
USA vs. France | 12 p.m. ET | ESPN2
Germany vs. England | 3 p.m. ET | ESPN3
March 7 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando, Florida
France vs. Germany | 4 p.m. ET | ESPN3
USA vs. England | 7 p.m. ET | ESPNews
SheBelieves Cup Rosters (as of Feb. 27): U.S. women’s national team (caps/goals):
DEFENDERS: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage; 14/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 1/0), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars; 3/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 105/2), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 19/0), Taylor Smith (Washington Spirit; 8/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 13/0)
MIDFIELDERS: Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 69/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 58/15), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 44/4), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 247/98), Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 33/6), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 8/0)
FORWARDS: Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage; 58/23), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 135/81), Christen Press (Houston Dash; 97/44), Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 30/8), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 130/34), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 16/4)
GOALKEEPERS: Laura Benkarth (SC Freiburg), Carina Schlüter (SC Sand), Almuth Schult (VfL Wolfsburg)
DEFENDERS: Anna Blässe (VfL Wolfsburg), Sara Doorsoun (SGS Essen), Johanna Elsig (Turbine Potsdam), Verena Faißt (FC Bayern Munich), Kathrin Hendrich (1. FFC Frankfurt), Jacqueline Klasen (SGS Essen), Leonie Maier (FC Bayern Munich), Babett Peter (VfL Wolfsburg)
MIDFIELDERS: Sharon Beck (1899 Hoffenheim), Sara Däbritz (FC Bayern Munich), Linda Dallmann (SGS Essen), Lena Goeßling (VfL Wolfsburg), Tabea Kemme (Turbine Potsdam), Lina Magull (SC Freiburg), Dzsenifer Marozsán (Olympique Lyon)
FORWARDS: Svenja Huth (Turbine Potsdam), Mandy Islacker (FC Bayern Munich), Hasret Kayikci (SC Freiburg), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg), Lea Schüller (SGS Essen)
GOALKEEPERS: Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Carly Telford (Chelsea)
DEFENDERS: Anita Asante (Chelsea), Hannah Blundell (Chelsea), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Gabby George (Everton), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Abbie McManus (Manchester City) Demi Stokes (Manchester City)
MIDFIELDERS: Isobel Christiansen (Manchester City), Jill Scott (Manchester City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City), Fara Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS: Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Melissa Lawley (Manchester City), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Melbourne City/Seattle Reign FC), Ellen White (Birmingham City)
GOALKEEPERS: Karina Benameur (Paris FC), Sarah Bouhaddi (Olympique Lyon), Soléne Durand (EA de Guingamp)
DEFENDERS: Estelle Cascarino (Paris FC), Laura Georges (FC Bayern Munich), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier HSC), Amel Majri (Olympique Lyon), Griedge Mbock Bathy Nka (Olympique Lyon), Eve Périsset (Paris Saint-Germain), Marion Torrent (Montpellier HSC), Aïssatou Tounkara (Paris FC)
MIDFIELDERS: Maéva Clemaron (FC Fleury 91), Aminata Diallo (Paris Saint-Germain), Kadidiatou Diani (Paris Saint-Germain), Onema Grace Geyoro (Paris Saint-Germain), Amandine Henry (Olympique Lyon), Gaëtane Thiney (Paris FC)
FORWARDS: Viviane Asseyi (Olympique Marsellie), Valérie Gauvin (Montpellier HSC), Eugénie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyon), Marie-Charlotte Léger (Montpellier HSC), Faustine Robert (EA de Guingamp), Ouleymata Sarr (Lille OSC)