The USWNT’s last two friendlies before the Women’s World Cup
The GIST: The USWNT’s last two friendlies before the Women’s World Cup (WWC) kick off tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET against No. 22 Ireland. This gives 26 American players one final opportunity to impress head coach Vlatko Andonovski before he trims the roster to just 23 players ahead of the WWC in July.
- Needless to say, expect everyone to bring their A-game as they fight for a place on the No. 1 team in the world. Lassies, you’ve been warned.
Who’s returning: Veteran defensive midfielder Julie Ertz took one look at the red, white and blue’s struggling midfield and said “this looks like a job for me.” Watch for Ertz to see some crucial minutes this weekend as she aims to prove she’s ready to return to the highest caliber of women’s fútbol after nearly two years away from the pitch.
- Among the others returning to the roster are defender Tierna Davidson, who’s back in form after recovering from an ACL tear, and NWSL MVP forward Sophia Smith, who’s been out with a foot injury.
Other players to watch: With so few spots available on that final roster, plenty of players are on the bubble, including the aforementioned Ertz and Davidson. Defender Alana Cook will notably be competing to make her first WWC team in a suddenly crowded defensive pool.
- Also on the cusp is forward Ashley Hatch, who must impress if she’s to hold off the lurking shadow that is upstart Catarina Macario, who won’t be in action this weekend while she continues to recover from an ACL injury. With this much talent, we certainly don’t envy Vlatko’s job.