April 1, 2011

USWNT vs. England

The US Women's National Team will meet England for the first time in four years as they visit Leyton Orient on Saturday (ESPN2, 3pm ET). While the match is a friendly, it is one of the final tuneups for both teams heading into the 2011 World Cup, so both sides will be taking this match plenty seriously.

The last time the two teams met was the 2007 World Cup quarterfinals in China, with the United States winning 3-0 after a scoreless halftime affair. The United States went on to be easily defeated by Brazil in the semifinals.

At this late date, less than three months from the World Cup kickoff, it is likely that both US coach Pia Sundhage and English coach Hope Powell pretty well have their minds made up as to who will make up their rosters for that tournament. But there may still be a slot or two undecided and some players will be hoping to tip the scales in their favor on Saturday.

While the US roster is heavy on midfielders, the English roster appears to be heavy at defender and at forward, if one wanted to hazard a guess as to where the openings might be.

While these two teams don't meet very often, many of the players are quite familiar with one another. No fewer than six of the English team either play or have played in WPS. Both teams have very little "new blood" on their roster. In fact, 10 of the 13 players that played for England in that 2007 match will be active for Saturday's match.

Strangely enough, the US team only has six starters from that 2007 match on their roster...Hope Solo, Christie Rampone, Stephanie Cox, Shannon Boxx, Heather O'Reilly, and Abby Wambach. Strange, of course, because Pia Sundhage has been criticized in some circles for not bringing new players onto the team. But that 2007 team was not Sundhage's team and a large contingent of that roster has since retired including Kristine Lilly, Kate Markgraf, Briana Scurry, Aly Wagner, Angela Hucles, and Marci Jobson.

While the US and England couldn't meet until the semifinals in 2011, it is still a possibility. Whatever happens Saturday, it should be an interesting battle between two teams who should certainly make some noise in Germany.

USWNT (Coach: Pia Sundhage)
Goalkeepers: Nicole Barnhart, Ashlyn Harris, Hope Solo.
Defenders: Rachel Buehler, Stephanie Cox, Ali Krieger, Amy LePeilbet, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn.
Midfielders: Yael Averbuch, Shannon Boxx, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Lori Lindsey, Carli Lloyd, Kelley O'Hara, Heather O'Reilly, Megan Rapinoe, Lindsay Tarpley.
Forwards: Lauren Cheney, Alex Morgan, Amy Rodriguez, Abby Wambach.

England (Coach: Hope Powell)
Goalkeepers: Karen Bardsley, Rachel Brown, Siobhan Chamberlain.
Defenders: Sophie Bradley, Lindsay Johnson, Claire Rafferty, Alex Scott, Casey Stoney, Dunia Susi, Rachel Unitt, Faye White.
Midfielders: Anita Asante, Laura Bassett, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott, Fara Williams.
Forwards: Eniola Aluko, Karen Carney, Jess Clarke, Natasha Dowie, Kelly Smith, Sue Smith, Ellen White, Rachel Yankey.