Welcome to your open thread for the United States Women's National Team's first game since the Victory Tour and final friendly before beginning the road to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. The team is taking on Ireland in San Diego and is in an unfamiliar position.
The team saw its 104-game home unbeaten streak snapped back on Dec. 16 in a 1-0 loss to China. The loss also closed out the career of American legend Abby Wambach. The retirement of the leader in international goals all-time, men or women, brings up the question of who will start up top for the Yanks, not only during this friendly, but going forward. The Orlando Pride’s own Alex Morgan is definitely expected to step up and contribute in the goal-scoring department and Christen Press has made a strong case to be a full-time starter by consistently scoring off of the bench. By the way, tonight’s match will be Morgan’s 100th cap with the USWNT.
Overall, the U.S. is 10-0-0 against Ireland in the series, according to ussoccer.com, so losing back-to-back home games would truly be a shock here. This is the last chance coach Jill Ellis will have to look at her team in a game before she has to select her roster for the Olympics, so don't be surprised to see a few more fringe players who may be fighting for the final spots on the roster to see some minutes against the Irish.
Orlando Pride keeper Ashlyn Harris struggled to get time during the final games of the Victory Tour last year. When Hope Solo was not between the sticks, Ellis opted to give Alyssa Naeher some minutes in goal. If this is any indicator of how tight the race for the back-up keeper is, seeing Harris in the game at some point against Ireland would be a good sign for Orlando fans.
The United States will have a bit of a different look, as injuries will keep a few starters out. Jeff Kassouf of Equalizer Soccer reports that defenders Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston and midfielder Morgan Brian will miss the match, along with previously injured midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who tore up her knee in Hawaii.
It's a new year and a new beginning post-Wambach for the USWNT. With Olympic qualifying and the Olympics themselves coming up it's an exciting time to be a U.S. soccer fan and the fun begins today!
United States (4-4-2):
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo
Defenders: Meghan Klingenberg, Whitney Engen, Emily Sonnett, Ali Krieger
Midfielder: Tobin Heath, Lindsay Horan, Samantha Mewis, Cyrstal Dunn
Forwards: Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan
Goalkeeper: Emma Byrne
Defenders: Megan Campbell, Diane Caldwell, Louise Quinn, Sophie Perry
Midfielders: Karen Duggan, Denise O'Sullivan, Ruesha Littlejohn
Forwards: Katie McCabe, Stephanie Roche, Aine O'Gorman
How To Watch
Match Time: 5 p.m. ET
Venue: Qualcomm Stadium — San Diego, California
TV: FOX Sports 1
Live Stream: FOX Sports GO
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Enjoy the game! Go USA!