Heather O’Reilly says England has ‘a little bit of an edge’ over USWNT

England’s Chloe Kelly celebrates scoring the game-winning goal during the UEFA Women’s Euro final at Wembley Stadium. (Nigel French/PA Images via Getty Images)

Heather O’Reilly has high praise for England, saying that the Lionesses are at least level with the U.S. women’s national team – and the USWNT great even said England could have a leg up on the No. 1 ranked team in the world.

Speaking with soccer reporter Grant Wahl on the latest episode of his podcast, O’Reilly spoke about her recent decision to come out of retirement to join Shelbourne Football Club in Ireland. The NWSL and WSL veteran also spoke on the growth of women’s football in England, which has culminated with a recent European Championships title.

“All the sort of components that we had a bit of an edge – in terms of fitness, mentality, never say die attitude, all those sort of intangible things – I think seemingly from their run in the Euros, they’ve taken a jump,” O’Reilly said.

Calling Sarina Wiegman’s leadership “massive,” she added that the club has added variety and depth that could give them an edge over the USWNT in a month’s time – especially since the group has more recent experience playing together.

“I know that everybody will go back to their clubs now for a number of weeks before getting back together for that friendly, but I do think that they are essentially played in a little bit more than the U.S., even though the U.S. just had their qualifying run as well,” she continued. “So to be honest I give a little bit of edge right now to England, just because of the form of the squad and the way that they were scoring goals. They were scoring in all different ways, which was interesting.”

Still, that doesn’t mean that she’s counting her old squad out. Fresh off a Concacaf W Championship run, the USWNT still holds the No. 1 spot in the FIFA rankings.

“I still don’t think anyone in the Euros is going to bring the same wave after wave of speed that the U.S. has,” she said. “Especially right now with Sophia Smith and [Trinity] Rodman and Alex [Morgan], we just have a lot of speed and direct play and transitional play that could hit them on the counter in a way that wasn’t seen in the Euros.”

Looking ahead to the Oct. 7 friendly between the two teams, O’Reilly applauded England for scheduling a tough opponent in preparation for next year’s World Cup.

“I love that they’re striking while the iron’s hot and not just playing a fluff opponent that they’re going to knock home eight goals against but playing the U.S. at Wembley,” she said. “What an awesome opportunity for both teams, especially in the year leading up to the World Cup.”