When: Thursday, June 7, 7:00 PM MT
Where: Rio Tinto Stadium — Sandy, UT
Weather: Sunny, 88 degrees
Prep for Bigger Tournaments Ahead
The U.S. Women’s National Team resumes international play for 2018 against China PR at Rio Tinto Stadium. Head coach Jill Ellis is using this set of friendlies, the second to be played on Tuesday, June 12 in Cleveland, Ohio, to prepare for the upcoming Tournament of Nations, set to take place at the end of July, featuring the USA, Australia, Brazil, and Japan as well as CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying this fall.
The U.S. is 5-0-1 in 2018, winning against Denmark, Germany, England, Mexico and tying France.
Last week, Ellis named 24 players to the preliminary roster for training camp ahead of the two friendly games, including three Utah Royals FC players - goalkeeper Abby Smith, defender Becky Sauebrunn, and forward Amy Rodriguez.
Sauerbrunn has 137 international caps, tied for 20th on the all-time caps list. She joins the list of 29 female players to play 125 or more times for the USA.
Goalkeeper Abby Smith returns to a USWNT roster for the third time. She made the June 2017 friendlies roster in Scandinavia and the roster for the 2017 Tournament of Nations.
Rodriguez also returns to the USWNT after successfully recovering from ACL surgery. She has 130 caps with the USA and has scored 30 goals.
Ellis will choose 18 players from the roster below for the game.
Defenders: Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC), *Margaret Purce (Portland Thorns FC), Merritt Mathias (North Carolina Courage), Sofia Huerta (Chicago Red Stars), Tierna Davidson (Stanford University).
Midfielders: Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), McCall Zerboni (North Carolina Courage), Morgan Brian (Olympique Lyonnais), Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage), *Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit).
Forwards: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Amy Rodriguez (Utah Royals FC), Christen Press (Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC), Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), Savannah McCaskill (Sky Blue FC), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC).
*Defender Margaret Purce departed camp due to an ankle injury, and midfielder Rose Lavelle joined camp on Sunday.
USWNT Returns to The RioT
The USWNT has played four international friendlies at Rio Tinto Stadium, all victories in Sandy. Today's matchup will mark the fifth appearance at the RioT. The USWNT last played in Utah on October 19, 2016 in a 4-0 victory vs. Switzerland.
Alex Morgan's first cap was at Rio Tinto on March 31, 2010, in a 1-0 victory against Mexico in a match played in ankle-deep snow.
What to Watch vs. China
The U.S. is set to take on a Chinese team that has spent much of the past few years rebuilding their program. China has had four head coaches from 2015 until now, but appear to be building towards the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Despite their troubles in recent years, China finds ways to give the U.S. a challenge. China has won nine times against the U.S. in their 56 meetings. In the last meeting between the two teams on December 13, 2015, China won 1-0.
Still, the U.S. is ranked #1 in the world and has had success this year, including winning the SheBelieves Cup that featured France, Germany, and England, three of the top teams in the world. Though this game is a friendly, the U.S. will use it to show why they are the top team, especially as World Cup qualifying is near.
Additionally, many will use this friendly to stand out for Ellis as she gets closer and closer to establishing a team she will feel is ready to compete against the best teams in 2019 in France where they are set to defend their 2015 World Cup title.