Tobin Heath will try to help the U.S. against France Saturday. (Andy Mead/YCJ Photo)
The U.S. national team will kick off its World Cup year Saturday against Women’s World Cup hosts France at Stade Océane in Le Havre (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1 & UDN).
The match is an intriguing match-up between two Women’s World Cup favorites. The Americans are defending champions and top-ranked in the world while the French are third-ranked.
Don’t expect any innovations by either coach as both teams won’t given anything away. Why? Because they could meet in the knockout rounds of the competition. If both sides win their respective groups, they could face off in the quarterfinals.
For the 10th time in its history, the U.S. will open its yearly schedule in Europe. It will also be the second time the USA has opened in France, most recently to start the last World Cup year in 2015 when the Americans squared off with the French in Lorient, a 2-0 loss in a game played on artificial turf. Opening against a European team is far more common for the USA. This will be the 25th yearly opener against a European opponent. Following the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2012 Olympics, both of which were held in Europe (Germany and the UK, respectively), the USA has played 20 matches in Europe
Le Havre is one of the nine venues for this summer’s tournament and the site of the U.S.’s third Group F match against Sweden that will take place June 20.
The USA will continue on to Spain for the second match of the challenging two-game set of away matches in Europe, playing on Jan. 22 at Estadio José Rico Perez in Alicante (2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 & UDN). It will be the USA’s first match in and against Spain, which will also play in France this summer after qualifying for its second Women’s World Cup.
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18- Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3/0); 21- Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24- Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 19/0), 1- Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 38/0)
DEFENDERS (8): 7- Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 30/0), 12- Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 12/1); 19- Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 75/24), 26- Emily Fox (UNC; 2/0), 5- Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 112/2); 4- Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 149/0), 14- Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), 2- Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 26/0)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 6- Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 81/6), 22- Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 2/0), 8- Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 73/18); 9- Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 62/7), 16- Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 20/6), 3- Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 41/8), 27- Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), 25- McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 7/0)
FORWARDS (7): 17- Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 142/25); 10- Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 265/105), 20- Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 3/1), 13- Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 153/98), 23- Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 106/46), 11- Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 43/12), 15- Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 145/41)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Sarah Bouhaddi (Olympique Lyonnais), Solène Durand (EA de Guingamp), Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (Arsenal FC, England)
DEFENDERS (8 ): Julie Debever (EA de Guingamp), Sakina Karchaoui (Montpellier HSC), Charlotte Lorgere (EA de Guingamp), Amel Majri (Olympique Lyonnais), Ève Perisset (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Wendie Renard (Olympique Lyonnais), Marion Torrent (Montpellier HSC), Aïssatou Tounkara (Atlético Madrid, Spain)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Charlotte Bilbault (Paris FC), Élise Bussaglia (Dijon FCOF), Onema Grace Geyoro (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Amandine Henry (Olympique Lyonnais)
FORWARDS (8): Viviane Asseyi (FC Girondins de Bordeaux), Delphine Cascarino (Olympique Lyonnais), Kenza Dali (Dijon FCO), Kadidiatou Diani (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Valérie Gauvin (Montpellier HSC), Marie-Antoinette Katoto (Paris Saint-Germain FC), Eugénie Le Sommer (Olympique Lyonnais), Gaëtane Thiney (Paris FC)