The U.S. women's national team will face a challenge next summer when it defends its Women's World Cup title, but there will be ample challenges on the road to France, too.

By Avi Creditor
December 06, 2018

The U.S. women's national team will face a challenge next summer when it defends its Women's World Cup title, but there will be ample challenges on the road to France, too.

U.S. Soccer announced Thursday a 10-match slate for the women's national team, which includes another edition of the SheBelieves Cup and a send-off series that will lead into the Women's World Cup. 

It was already announced that the U.S. would kick off its 2019 at the home of the World Cup hosts, when the two square off in Le Havre on Jan. 19. Three days later, the U.S. women will face World Cup-bound Spain in Alicante before returning stateside for the fourth edition of the SheBelieves Cup. There, the U.S. will play against Japan on Feb. 27 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa.; England on March 2 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.; and Brazil on March 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The U.S. has won two of the three previous SheBelieves Cup competitions, with France winning the other in 2017.

A pair of early April friendlies follows, with an April 4 date against Australia at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Colorado followed by an April 7 showdown vs. Belgium at LAFC's Banc of California Stadium.

The three-match send-off series is spread out through May. It begins May 12 against South Africa at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif; continues May 16 against a to-be-named opponent (dependent on the Women's World Cup draw, according to U.S. Soccer) at Busch Stadium in St. Louis and concludes May 26 against Concacaf rival Mexico at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

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“This schedule checks a lot of important boxes in our preparation for the World Cup,” U.S. women's national team manager Jill Ellis said in a statement. “We’ll get to experience a variety of teams in regard to their strengths and styles of play and almost all of the countries will be in their World Cup preparation as well. We are playing tough games in Europe, which is vitally important, and also get to play quality opponents in front of our home fans at venues all across the USA. It will go fast, but these games will be a major factor in pushing us to be at our peak once we arrive in France next summer.”

Of the opponents, six are among the top 12 currently in FIFA's world ranking, while seven will take part in the Women's World Cup.

The U.S. women enter 2019 on a 28-match unbeaten run (25-0-3) and went undefeated in their 20 games during 2018, edging Portugal and Scotland to close out an 18-0-2 campaign.

They'll learn their Women's World Cup group fate on Saturday, when the draw is held in France for the competition.

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