The bread crumbs alongside the trail to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics have lastly been laid out for the United States Women’s National Team.
Before they will observe them, although, the coaches and soccer gamers want to verify they’re all stepping into the identical course. And one of many methods they hope to seek out their bearings is by taking part in a pleasant towards Colombia at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy.
The USWNT is about to play Colombia on June 28 at 8 p.m. within the remaining tune-up earlier than the beginning of the Concacaf W Championship, U.S. Soccer introduced Thursday.
For nationwide staff participant Ashley Hatch, the pleasant towards Colombia might be a homecoming of kinds. Hatch performed for BYU from 2013-16 and her first minutes with the USWNT got here throughout a pleasant towards Switzerland at Rio Tinto in October 2016.
“I’m excited. It’s been a while since I’ve played there, but my first cap with the national team was there, so it’s a pretty special place,” Hatch, 26, advised The Salt Lake Tribune in a telephone interview this week. “And Utah is like one of my second homes.”
The U.S. ladies have performed at Rio Tinto, the house subject for Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake, 5 instances because it opened in 2008. But it has been 4 years since their final sport in Sandy, after they defeated China PR 1-0 in June 2018.
Hatch, in the meantime, has performed at Rio Tinto a handful of instances. Appearances embody her nationwide staff debut and some National Women’s Soccer League video games towards the Utah Royals earlier than their transfer to Kansas City in 2020. But this one feels totally different. This time she has an actual likelihood to make the nationwide staff roster and take the sector in one of many main tournaments the staff can qualify for by way of the upcoming Concacaf event.
“It’s huge for me,” stated Hatch, who has 4 objectives in eight appearances with the nationwide staff. “It’s my first time kind of experiencing all of the excitement and the expectation of making a roster, qualifying for a World Cup, qualifying for the Olympics. So it’s all new to me. Normally I’m a spectator or cheering on other teammates trying to make these rosters. So it’s exciting. It definitely pushes me every day.”
Scheduled for July 4-18 in Monterrey, Mexico, the Concacaf W Championship is arguably probably the most important event of this quad for the nationwide staff. The 4 semifinalists will mechanically safe berths to the 2023 FIFA World Cup, which might be collectively hosted by Australia and New Zealand. The winner, in the meantime, will seize a assured spot within the Paris Olympics in addition to within the 2024 Concacaf Gold Cup. A second Olympic and Gold Cup berth will go to the winner of a September sport between the event runner-up and the third-place staff.
During Tuesday evening’s attract Miami, the top-seeded USWNT discovered it might want to vanquish Mexico (No. 27), Jamaica (No. 51) and Haiti (No. 61) in Pool A to succeed in the semifinals. The B pool consists of Canada, Costa Rica (No. 36), Panama (No. 58) and Trinidad & Tobago (No. 73)
Hatch wasn’t prepared to supply any locker room fodder by singling out groups of most or least concern. She did be aware, nonetheless, that certainly one of her teammates on the NWSL’s Washington Spirits performs for Mexico as a defender.
“Every team we play always gives us their best,” Hatch stated, echoing a phrase she’s heard typically from USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “So, it’s good for us and it’s exciting because we know that every opponent that we come up on the field against is going to give us their best.”
The cornerstone of getting success towards that form of effort is synergy, and that’s primarily what the USWNT gamers and coaches will tackle throughout their session in Sandy.
“When we get to [these friendlies], we’ll be coming off a stretch of more than two months that the players have been with their clubs and away from the National Team environment,” Andonovski stated in a press launch, “so we’ll be looking to get maximum value out of our last days and games together before we go to Mexico for qualifying.”
Colombia ranks No. 26 within the FIFA standings — increased than any staff within the Concacaf championship aside from the U.S. and No. 6 Canada — and is No. 2 in South America behind Brazil. It will use the match towards the Americans to organize for the Copa América Feminina, which it’s set to host on July 8-30. The prime three finishers in that occasion additionally qualify for the World Cup.
“Colombia has a good chance to make it to the World Cup and both teams will be in our final preparations for our qualifying tournaments,” Andonovski stated. “So I expect some highly competitive matches between players who are competing to represent their countries in some really important games.”
If the bread crumbs don’t suffice, historical past might information the USWNT to these prestigious tournaments. The USA has certified for each Women’s World Cup since its inception in 1991 and has received 4 titles. The staff can also be looking for its eighth straight journey to the Olympics. In reality, in Concacaf qualifying for each occasions, mixed, the USWNT’s has amassed a dominant report of 55-1-1. The solely loss got here to Mexico within the 2010 semifinals. The U.S. then needed to win the play-in match and two qualifiers over Italy to succeed in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany, the place it completed runner-up to Japan.
“I feel like we, as a team, have high standards for ourselves. Based off of the girls that have played before us and qualified before us, they’ve set that bar and that standard really high,” stated Hatch, the reigning NWSL Golden Boot winner who has scored three objectives in her final 4 Challenge Cup matches with the Spirits. “So I feel like it’s, I don’t know, expected, but we know it’s not going to be easy. Because we know everyone’s going to give us their best and everyone wants to beat us. So the standard is high.”
However unlikely a state of affairs, the USWNT does have a security web if it fails to get out of pool play in Mexico. The third-place finishers in every Concacaf championship pool — along with two groups from the Copa América Feminina — will advance to a 10-team intercontinental playoff event, which might be held as a World Cup take a look at occasion in New Zealand and Australia in February 2023. Three of these groups will advance to the precise World Cup, set to run from July 20 to Aug. 20, 2023.
Hatch hasn’t actually thought-about any of these situations. She’s targeted at the beginning on ensuring she’s on that USWNT roster when the staff returns to Rio Tinto and her outdated stomping grounds. That’s step one to creating a fairytale come true.
“I mean, I think it’s every little girl’s dream to be able to represent your country at the Olympics or the World Cup. But it’s becoming, you know, more of a reality and more of a goal and something that I really want to do,” she stated. “Obviously, there’s a lot outside of my control, but yeah, everything that is inside my control, I’m definitely trying my hardest to make it a possibility.”
Presale tickets for the Rio Tinto match will go on sale April 27 and public gross sales are anticipated to start May 2. Tickets will be bought at ussoccer.com.