Hello, France

We’re back, and ready for 2019. The USWNT is back too, and all eyes are on France, the site of this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.

2019 kicks off with a match against France on Saturday at Le Havre, which will also serve as the site of the team’s final group stage match against would-be spoilers Sweden on June 20th. Provided the reigning WWC Champs can get wins against Thailand and Chile on June 11th and 16th, respectively, that result may not end up making much of a difference. However, word is, the tilt with Sweden is already sold out for June. So, if you’re following the squad, you’ll have to suffer a slog through the awful Champagne cellars of Reims (don’t say “REEMS”) to see the Thailand contest, or brave the streets of uncultured Paris for the match vs. Chile. The sacrifices that must be made for football - quelle horreur!

Le Havre is located on the northern coast of Normandy, almost directly south of London. Normandy, of course, was the site of a great deal of incredible sacrifice of life given by the men and women of the US Military during World War II. Omaha Beach isn’t terribly far from Le Havre, and the squad took a trip to visit with some veterans whose stories and experience seem part of a distant past. The impact on the USWNT players, I’d expect, will be life-altering.

US Soccer shared a lot of social media from the visit, and you won’t be wasting your time to check it all out.

Squad Goals

Here’s the squad for this trip, which includes another game in Alicante, Spain on Tuesday the 22nd:

McCall Zerboni is back with the team after getting her severely injured elbow back into working order. Also making the trip (though not listed on the Instagram post above) is Andi Sullivan. Sullivan hasn’t quite looked back to normal for club or country (imo) following her most recent ACL injury, so her inclusion is a good sign. Otherwise, it’s a fairly predictable roster other than Danielle Colaprico, who seems to be giving Ellis enough to think about over the last couple of camps to keep her involved, and Jessica McDonald. McDonald’s 2018 NWSL season (and dominant Final outing) clearly showed her ability to perform at the highest level. Would you want to see her coming off the bench late in a game to test your tired, jelly-legged back line? Nope.

France vs USA

Saturday January 19th at 2:30PM Eastern on FS1

France is stacked with talent, and should be a major contender in the summer tournament. They’ve managed to develop younger players and keep the aging stars healthy on their way to the 3rd spot in the current FIFA World rankings. Plus, unlike their American guests, the French women have the burden of living up to the expectations created by their 2018 FIFA (Men’s) World Cup winning side.

This squad is a bit heavy on opposite thirds of the pitch, with only four midfielders to connect the dots. Yes, one of those is Amandine Henry, but she can’t be everywhere at all times. The entertaining Sarah Bouhaddi will patrol the goal, always willing to get impossibly far off her line to make a play (or not). Wendie Renard’s leadership will anchor the defense, and Eugénie Le Sommer will try to slalom Sauerbrunn and Dahlkemper going the other direction.

This game will be a challenge for two squads that won’t want to lose. It will likely be a bit disjointed as the players start putting into the game some of the newer tactics they’ve been working on in camp. But there will be goals, and I’d expect them in both directions. Ultimately, I think the USWNT come out on top with a late set piece goal from McDonald.

France 2-3 USA