The U.S. women’s national soccer team started 2020 exactly as it ended the year before.
Just after winning the 2019 FIFA World Cup, the US gave birth to its competition in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament and the SheBelieves Cup.
However, like everything else in the world, the coronavirus pandemic slowed things down and forced any future competition into doubt for the rest of the year.
After a small camp in October, American coach Vlatko Andonovski gathered the national team in the Netherlands this week for a week-long camp, culminating in Friday’s friendly against the host nation (9:30 am, ESPN2).
“Everyone is just really excited to have an international match,” said Andonovski. “The fact that it is against the Netherlands makes it even better and more challenging.
“At some point we had to get back on the field for a real game, so it might as well be against one of the best teams in the world. We have a lot of work to do for the Olympics and when we are confronted with a truly talented Dutch team, we can clearly see where we are at the end of this very unusual year. ”
The teams certainly know each other. The US defeated the Netherlands 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup 2019 final, losing only once in eight games. The US has won the last seven meetings with a combined score of 24-2.
“We meet for the first time against a team that we played in the World Cup final and it’s been what, a year and a few months since then and it’s been seven-eight months since we played our last game as a team,” said the American defender Kelly O’Hara. “I’m excited about it so we’ll see how it goes.”
The roster includes 14 players from the World Cup Championship team, including Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis (Manchester City), Tobin Heath and Christen Press (Manchester United), Alex Morgan (Tottenham) and Emily Sonnett (Goteborg FC), who all unsubscribe. of the NWSL this season and went to play in Europe.
“We know that from a tactical point of view, we are nowhere close to our best, nowhere near our best in our physical preparation. Not even technical and mental preparation, ”said Andonovski. “It is clear that we have been off for so many months, the first game after a while. Some players haven’t touched the ball for nearly a year and some players haven’t touched the ball for six months. We literally only have a few players who are 90 minutes ready. ”
The domestic season for players who stayed in the NWSL was split. The Challenge Cup consisted of eight teams that played at least four games and the Fall Series, in which all nine teams played at least four games.
“If you had asked me a few months ago, I would never have expected to play in England,” said Press. “I am very happy with that decision and I enjoy my time at Manchester United. I think it’s a fantastic environment and I enjoy playing in such a competitive team.
“They are currently attracting international talent, not just the best English players but from all over the world and that is really important to me at this point in my career. I personally feel like I have a long way to go to get back into my flow and my expectations for the type of player I want to be, but I am very confident in the choice I have made to go. ”