The United States women’s national team is still No. 1.
According to the latest FIFA rankings released Friday, the USWNT still sits atop the women’s soccer world after its ninth Concacaf W Championship win in July.
Several European teams, though, are nipping at the heels of the reigning World Cup champions. England, fresh off its maiden Euros title, rose to fourth, behind Germany in second and Sweden in third.
The Lionesses’ ascent sets up an epic clash with the USWNT.
The teams are set to face off on Oct. 7 in London’s Wembley Stadium. Tickets for the event sold out in 24 hours, following up England’s record Euros final crowd of 87,192 at the iconic stadium.
The fall friendly will serve as a precursor to the World Cup and Olympic cycle, with both sides looking to make a statement on the international stage. Just Women’s Sports takes a look ahead to the highly anticipated contest.
England will present a formidable test for the USWNT ahead of the 2023 World Cup, with the Lionesses entering the Wembley match in top form. Under manager Sarina Wiegman, England is unbeaten through 20 matches and has scored 106 goals.
While the end of Europe’s World Cup qualifying competition stands between now and October, all signs point to continued dominance for England.
As the Lionesses’ attack appears to be ramping up, logging 5.3 goals per game under Wiegman’s leadership, the USWNT’s offense is not yet synced up. The U.S. has averaged 3.83 goals per game this year, with finishing a topic of conversation in the Concacaf W Championship. While the team grew into the tournament, creating more chances in the final third as the competition continued, the USWNT struggled to put those opportunities away.
It would be too harsh to say the USWNT’s form lags behind England’s, as the U.S. has surged to an 11-0-1 record on the year, but it’s safe to say the Lionesses have faced a more competitive schedule, lifting the group to another level of performance.
CHLOE. KELLY. @Chloe_Kelly98 😱#WEURO2022 pic.twitter.com/TgTUvvZJW3— Just Women’s Sports (@justwsports) July 31, 2022
CHLOE. KELLY. @Chloe_Kelly98 😱#WEURO2022 pic.twitter.com/TgTUvvZJW3
While many hail the Lionesses for their ability to get up the flanks with stellar attacking-minded outside backs in Lucy Bronze and Rachel Daly, England has also shown its strength in the middle of the park.
Fran Kirby, Georgia Stanway and Keira Walsh made up England’s starting trio in the midfield throughout the Euros, lining up in front of a seasoned backline. The midfield lineup was vital in England’s press, helping the team to deploy pressure higher up the pitch and provide reinforcements to slow down the counter-press.
The USWNT holds a less commanding presence down the spine of the pitch, with the midfield unit yet to fully click. Julie Ertz’s extended absence and maternity leave have loomed large over the U.S., with the team yet to nail down the No. 6 position. Andi Sullivan has stepped up as the team’s defensive midfield anchor but has battled injury throughout the 2022 season.
Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan appear to have locked in the remaining spots in coach Vlatko Andonovski’s starting midfield lineup. Despite carrying a heavy load during the Concacaf W Championship, Horan looked to be carrying a knock through the Mexico-hosted tournament. When given space to link up with the offense and show her creativity, Lavelle can be dangerous, but that version of the OL Reign star didn’t fully emerge in Monterrey.
Expect England to rival the USWNT in the center of the field. The U.S. midfield will be tasked with halting a well-oiled Lionesses attack while finding space on the other side of the ball against an organized squad.
MALLORY PUGH MAKES IT TWO JUST BEFORE THE HALF 🔥That backheel from Rose Lavelle though 👀 pic.twitter.com/hhlJNCdXtz— Attacking Third (@AttackingThird) July 15, 2022
MALLORY PUGH MAKES IT TWO JUST BEFORE THE HALF 🔥That backheel from Rose Lavelle though 👀 pic.twitter.com/hhlJNCdXtz
The USWNT’s deep talent pool has long set the squad apart from the international competition. But the U.S. is no longer the only team with impressive roster depth.
England’s substitutes played a critical role in their Euros title run, with Alessia Russo making a name for herself as a reserve for striker Ellen White. The 23-year-old’s backheel goal cemented the young star on the international stage.
Ella Toone and Jill Scott were also key off the bench in the midfield, and Chloe Kelly, who scored the game-winner in the final against Germany, was vital up top.
The USWNT, of course, has depth at nearly every position, with Margaret Purce and Trinity Rodman emerging as game-changers on the front line and Ashley Sanchez adding a surge of creativity to the midfield.
October’s contest may just come down to which side’s impressive reserves can impact the game the most.
The USWNT and England will face off on Friday, Oct. 7, at Wembley Stadium. The match will air at 3 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.