Match preview: USA v Westfield Matildas
The Westfield Matildas are hours away from Ante Milicic’s biggest test yet in the form of current world no.1 outfit, the United States of America.
Jill Ellis’ side have sat atop of the global rankings for the better part of 18 months and will be a formidable foe against Milicic’s outfit.
The Westfield Matildas, meanwhile, bring some pedigree of their own into this clash.
Milicic kickstarted his tenure as national team coach with a convincing Cup of Nations campaign on home soil, guiding the Westfield Matildas to victories over New Zealand, Korea Republic and Argentina.
And the roster he has at his disposal is one of the strongest yet.
Milicic has 14 overseas-based players from which to choose, with 12 of those players based in the USA, while eight Australian-based players in the squad starred in the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season.
Add to that a long camp in the States, where players were given much-needed time to acclimatise to the conditions and build combinations on the pitch, and it seems Milicic’s side are up for the challenge.
What the players are saying
Formidable shot-stopper Lydia Williams echoed Milicic’s cry to the players to play without fear, saying during the week:
“No matter what team we come up against he wants to always impart the style and belief that we have in each other.
“Every time we come into camp we’re really positive, he wants us to take risks and be confident in how we can play so that’s always exciting.”
Midfield enforcer Emily van Egmond told of the players’ excitement to take on the best team in the world:
“You obviously respect the best nation in the world, but there’s a fine line with that.
“You speak about fear but I don’t think we have it, it’s more about excitement.
“It’s always a game that the girls can’t wait to play and get up for.”
Fellow midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight reckons a clash against the USA is the perfect preparation for the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™:
“[This match] is vital in our preparation [for the World Cup].
“We’ve only got a handful of games left together as a team, so this game – especially being against the best team in the world – we couldn’t really ask for better preparation.”
Where and When
Date: Friday, 5 April, 2019
Venue: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Denver, CO.
Kick-off: 12:30pm AEDT
Westfield Matildas Squad News
Milicic has brought in faces who may be familiar to fans, but have only now experienced their first ever camp under the Head Coach.
Mary Fowler, Katrina Gorry, Teagan Micah and Elizabeth Ralston have been given their chance to show what they’re made of ahead of this huge test.
Sam Kerr, appointed captain by Milicic, is coming off the back of four consecutive Golden Boot triumphs, having gone back-to-back in both the Westfield W-League and National Women’s Soccer League.
On the injury front, Milicic confirmed Chloe Logarzo (ankle), Laura Alleway (ankle) and Steph Catley (calf) are unable to feature.
Current World Rankings
Westfield Matildas: 6
Picking the winner doesn’t get any harder than this.
On one hand, the trust we have in our women guides us into thinking the Westfield Matildas are more than a fair chance at upsetting the hosts.
Yet, on the other hand, one cannot take lightly the USA’s class and experience on big stages.
The USA have 15 of their 16 players who played against Australia in last year’s Tournament of Nations clash, while the Westfield Matildas bring 14 of their 15.
And with the last two results ending in a 1-1 draw and 1-0 win to Australia, things are as tight as they come.
Whatever the result, this game will provide the perfect test to for Ante Milicic and the Westfield Matildas to execute new tactics and roles with only two months out from Australia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ campaign.
You can watch the Westfield Matildas take on the USA at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on Friday, 5 April 2019 at 12:30pm AEDT.
FOX SPORTS 503 will be broadcasting the game LIVE, as will SBS.