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USWNT ready for Scotland, final match of 2018

United States forward Jessica McDonald, second left, celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the friendly women's soccer match between Portugal and the Unite States in Estoril, outside Lisbon, Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

The United States women’s national team attempts to close out a successful 2018 on a high Tuesday with the year’s final match against host Scotland. The 2:15 p.m. ET game at Simple Digital Arena sets up an unfamiliar matchup appropriate for World Cup preparations and reflecting on the state of the women’s game. FS1 and UDN will broadcast the match.

Tuesday’s match is the teams’ first meeting in almost six years and the first ever in Scotland. The USWNT easily beat its opponents 4-1 in 2013, the first match of former U.S. coach Tom Sermanni’s year-long stint. Now, though, the Scots are much improved and host the U.S. after having qualified for their first World Cup. 

“Obviously, they have qualified for the World Cup for the first time, so I’d like to give my credit to them on that,” U.S. forward Carli Lloyd said during interviews in Scotland. “That’s exciting. It’s good for women’s football. … I think that they’re energized. They’re coming off qualification and feeling good, confident.”

Though the U.S. and Scotland have only played each other three times, there is some familiarity between the squads. Lloyd played with Scotland’s Jennifer Beattie and Jane Ross at Manchester City last year, while USWNT defender Crystal Dunn played with midfielder Erin Cuthbert during her year-long stint with Chelsea. For Dunn, that experience helped her understand the way Scotland will play against the U.S.

“They’re going to be so hard working,” Dunn said. “I think if I’ve learned anything from just Erin and playing with her, it’s she’s relentless. She always wants to win the ball back if she, especially, is the one to lose it. She is the first one pressing, and I think that’s just a testament to their whole program, the tenacity that they have and their willingness to want to get the ball back and catch us on the counter.”

Scotland poses a different test than Portugal, which the U.S. beat 1-0 Thursday. The Portuguese preferred to hold the ball, and did so effectively for long stretches of the match.

Since the U.S. usually plays one opponent twice during international breaks, it provides the team with a unique experience of quick turnarounds, similar to what it will have to deal with during this summer’s World Cup in France. Additionally, it gives the U.S. the experience of playing away from home, which the team had not done for a year before Thursday’s game in Portugal.

Ultimately, though, Tuesday will be about not just how the U.S. stacks up against Scotland, but about how the gap is closing in the women’s game around the world. That provides the USWNT with a specific challenge as it attempts to defend its World Cup title in seven months — but it is hardly bad news for the reigning world champions.

“I always say this,” Dunn said. “Every year, I think the game is growing globally. I think whenever we are playing other countries, it’s never easy. We definitely have to bring our best and we know other teams are bringing their best against us. … I think other teams are just night and day to what they used to be and they’re keeping up with us physically, so I think that’s definitely a good way to bridge the gap. Just competing for the full 90 minutes without getting tired is key.”

U.S. WNT ROSTER BY POSITION: EUROPE 2018 (CAPS/GOALS)


GOALKEEPERS (3):
 18- Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24- Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 18/0), 1- Alyssa Naeher(Chicago Red Stars; 38/0)

DEFENDERS (7): 7- Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 29/0), 19- Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 74/24), 25- Emily Fox(UNC; 1/0), 12-Merritt Mathias (NC Courage; 1/0), 4- Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 148/0), 14- Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), 2-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 25/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 22- Danielle Colaprico (Chicago Red Stars; 1/0), 8- Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 72/18); 16- Rose Lavelle(Washington Spirit; 19/6), 20- Allie Long (Seattle Reign FC; 39/6), 3- Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 40/8), 6- Andi Sullivan(Washington Spirit; 11/0)

FORWARDS (5): 10- Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 264/105), 21- Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 2/1), 13- Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 152/97), 11- Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 42/12), 15- Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 145/41)

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