With less than thirty days from their promising debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, the U.S. Women’s National Team will kick off their sendoff series in San Jose in the new Avaya Stadium on Sunday.
The last time the Republic of Ireland women’s soccer team scored against the second-best world ranked U.S. Women’s National squad was October 20, 2004. The WNT has put 37 in the back of the net in ten perfect games and will once again face the Irish for the first time since December of 2012.
The red, white, and blue will make their seventh appearance in the FIFA tournament with quite the impressive resume. The team currently boasts a 27-5-4 all-time record, outscoring opponents 98-32 in their total 36 matches, the most of any other team.
Though not official until FIFA’s final roster deadline passes on May 25, U.S. head coach Jill Ellis has set her 23-player roster, introducing eight new players to their bag of tricks: Ashlyn Harris, Alyssa Naeher, Whitney Engen, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Morgan Brian, Sydney Leroux, and Christen Press.
With returning veteran players like forward Abby Wambach, midfielders Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly, along with defenders Lori Chalupny and Christie Rampone, Ellis has been dealt a royal flush.
The fresh legs and the youthful energy from the newest members of the squad will blend well with the leadership and experience of players past. Many members of the squad are capable of playing multiple positions on the field, providing the utmost depth and versatility needed for the seven games in 30 days to reach World Cup glory. Even if the squad were to run into further injury problems, Ellis tells U.S. soccer:
“The past six months we’ve absorbed some injuries, but that’s helped improve our depth, and I feel confident that any one of our 23 players can start a game in the World Cup if needed,” said Ellis. “We’ve been able to play challenging teams and that has allowed us to vet our younger players and get them some great experience.”
The Irish will be missing key players Emma Byrne, Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Sophie Perry, and Diane Caldwell from the roster this weekend due to club obligations, leaving both teammates and manager Sue Ronan in a fix and their hopes for the first victory against the stars and stripes in a daze.
The WNT will face Mexico in Carson, Calif. and the Korea Republic in New Jersey to end their send-off series before touching ground in Canada.