Megan Rapinoe and the U.S. women will start 2019 with a game in France. (Matthew Levine/OutFoxedPhotos)
The U.S. women’s national team will open its 2019 schedule with a marquee matchup in the country where it hopes to find success during the summer.
The Americans will take on 2019 Women’s World Cup host France Saturday, Jan. 19 at Stade Océane in Le Havre (8:30 p.m. local / 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and the Fox Sports App).
Le Havre, which is located on the northern coast of France, is one of nine venues for next summer’s tournament.
The France Football Federation confirmed the game with an announcement Friday morning in Paris ahead of France’s friendly match against Brazil at Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice on Nov. 10. France is fourth in the FIFA women’s world rankings and is one of the heavy favorites on home soil next summer.
The USA will play a second match in Europe. That opponent and venue will be announced in the near future.
“To play France in France was an essential part of our scheduling preparations for next summer, and it will be an exciting and challenging match to kick off the year,” U.S. national head coach Jill Ellis said. “They are a top team, in the middle of their domestic league, and playing on home soil, so this is the type of experience we need to be ready for the World Cup in 2019.”
The USA also opened its 2015 Women’s World Cup year in France, falling 2-0 in Lorient, a result that the USA avenged just over than a month later, downing France 2-0 in the championship game of the Algarve Cup.
The U.S. team will be abroad most of January as it will hold its annual January training camp in Europe.
“Typically, we have our training camp in California to start the year, but with two high-caliber matches we now we have the opportunity to spend that time in southern Europe and dovetail our camp into the FIFA window,” Ellis said. “We will maximize our time on the training pitch and build on the foundation we have established this past year.”
The USA’s most recent meeting with France came at the 2018 SheBelieves Cup, a 1-1 draw in front of more than 25,000 fans at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J., in which Mallory Pugh scored for the USA and Eugénie Le Sommer tallied for the French.
The USWNT will finish its 2018 schedule in Europe, taking on first-time World Cup qualifier Scotland on Nov. 13 (2 p.m. ET on FS1 & UDN). The match will be played at The Simple Digital Arena, the 8,000-seat home of Scottish Premier League side St. Mirren FC. The stadium is in Paisley, just outside of Glasgow.