USWNT Vs Paraguay Score: Live Updates As USA Womens Soccer Plays First International Friendly Since Olympics

This week, we look at the ten rescheduled 2022 Women's EURO qualifying group matches which have now finally ended the first qualification stage and determined the Finalists and six teams to play off in April for three more spots. We also look at the results and rosters for the four-team SheBelieves Cup in the U.S. as well as some other key friendly results during the recent FIFA women's national team window, featuring teams in Europe, CONCACAF and Africa.

UEFA Women's EURO Final Group Matches

On Thursday February 18, Spain clinched top spot in Group D and an automatic berth in the 2022 Women's EURO Final after a comprehensive 13-0 win over Azerbaijan on the road in Baku, led by five goals each from their Spanish international forwards Jennifer Hermoso (Barcelona) and Esther Gonzalez (Levante).

In Group E on Friday February 19, Finland defeated Portugal 1-0 on an injury-time goal, which was their second consecutive last gasp winner after defeating Scotland away1-0 in the previous round. Forward Linda Sallstrom—who has been capped over 100 times by her country and is currently with Paris FC after years in Sweden at Djurgardens IF, Linkopings and Vittsjo—scored in the 93rd minute to give Finland the group title and an automatic berth at the Final. Portugal is set for the play-in round. In the other game that day Scotland, already eliminated after losses to both Portugal and Finland late last year, blasted Cyprus 10-0 with a hat trick by Lizzie Arnot (Manchester United) and braces from Jane Ross (Manchester United) and Martha Thomas (West Ham United). Thomas was born in England but grew up largely in the States and had 47 goals in 78 matches at the University of Charlotte in North Carolina; she was even capped at the U-23 level by the Americans in 2019 in friendlies, but had not yet gained citizenship. Thomas then went to Europe, first to join Le Havre in France's second division, before signing with West Ham in 2019-20.

On February 23, six matches were held across four groups. In Group A, Slovenia visited Estonia in Tallinn and came away with a 9-0 win as Mateja Zver (St. Polten of Austria and who played for years with Thor in Iceland), 22-year-old Lara Prasnikar (in her first season at Eintracht Frankfurt) and 20-year-old Zala Vindisar (Olimpija Ljubljana at home) each scored a brace.

In Group D, in the key match of the make-up games, Spain hosted Poland in Madrid winning 3-0 with two goals by Esther Gonzalez (Levante) and one from Maria Leon (Barcelona). The loss sent the Czech Republic into the playoffs in second place with 16 points to Poland's 14; the Poles will rue missed chances in the qualifiers after such a bright start, but overall it was a positive campaign for them. The Czech Republic crucially defeated Poland 2-0 away and had a scoreless tie in the home leg in head-to-head meetings. In the other game in the group, Azerbaijan defeated Moldolva 1-0 on a 46th minute goal by Aysun Aliyeva (23), who plays with Fatih Vatan Spor in Turkey and first started playing in Turkey in 2016.

Spain's 24 woman squad for their two qualifiers included only three players based outside of the country, with two in France and one in England.

Goalkeepers:

Sandra Paños—FC Barcelona

Lola Gallardo—Olympique Lyonnais (France)

Misa Rodríguez—Real Madrid CF

María López Valenzuela—Levante UD

Defenders:

Marta Corredera—Real Madrid CF

Laia Aleixandri—Club Atlético de Madrid

Irene Paredes—Paris Saint Germain (France)

Andrea Pereira—FC Barcelona

María León—FC Barcelona

Ivana Andrés—Real Madrid CF

Leila Ouahabi—FC Barcelona

Ona Batlle—Manchester United (England)

Midfielders:

Patri Guijarro—FC Barcelona

Aitana Bonmatí—FC Barcelona

Nerea Eizagirre—Real Sociedad

Alexia Putellas—FC Barcelona

Maite Oroz—Real Madrid CF

Forwards:

Marta Cardona—Real Madrid CF

Jenni Hermoso—FC Barcelona

Lucía García—Athletic Club

Mariona Caldentey—FC Barcelona

Eva Navarro—Levante UD

Esther González—Levante UD

Alba Redondo—Levante UD

In Group E, Portugal upset Scotland again by a 2-0 score line in neutral Larnaca, Cyprus, after their 1-0 home leg win on November 27 of last year. Two Sporting Lisbon players scored, with Ana Capeta tallying in the 27th minute and Fatima Pinto adding the second in second half injury time. Cyprus fell to Finland by a 5-0 score line in a different stadium in the same city.

In Group H, Croatia fell 1-0 to visiting Romania in Pula on 22-year-old midfielder Mihaela Ciolacu's (Olimpia Cluj, where she has won 5 league titles) goal in the 53rd minute. Croatia finished fourth with 7 points as Romania remained in third place (12 points) but seven adrift of second place Switzerland.

On February 24, the last qualifier was held between Italy and Israel in Florence for Group B; Italy jumped out to a 7-0 half-time lead and cruised the rest of the way for a 12-0 victory. Forwards Valentina Giacinti (Milan), Barbara Bonansea (Juventus) and Daniela Sabatino (Fiorentina) all scored braces. All Italy needed was a win other than a 1-0 score line and they would clinch the best second place spot and an automatic spot in the Finals—a 1-0 win or a tie or loss would have send them to the playoffs and granted Switzerland an automatic berth. Italy won 12-0—enough said.

Direct Qualifiers for England 2020 are Group winners: Netherlands (Group A), Denmark (Group B), Norway (Group C), Spain (Group D), Finland (Group E), Sweden (Group F), France (Group G), Belgium (Group H) and Germany (Group I), along with hosts England. The three sides advancing as the best Second Place sides are: Italy (Group B), Iceland (Group F) and Austria (Group G) with Switzerland (Group H) losing out on an inferior goal differential to Austria (+19 to +14).

The draw for the playoffs—which will be a straight random selection without seeding—includes: Russia (Group A), Northern Ireland (Group C), Czech Republic (Group D), Portugal (Group E), Switzerland (Group H) and Ukraine (Group I). The pairings will be determined on March 5.

SheBelieves Cup Wrap-up

The 2015 and 2019 reigning Women's World Cup Champions Americans hosted Argentina, Brazil and Canada in the sixth edition of the SheBelieves Cup, an annual four team international tournament, which is typically in the springtime, with all the games held this year in Orlando. Argentina replaced Japan, who withdrew because of a spike in COVID-19 cases at home.

Before the tournament started, four players from the Argentina women's national side were ruled out of the first game against Brazil due to U.S. Soccer's COVID-19 protocols. One player tested positive upon arriving in the country and in subsequent testing while in Orlando. She was immediately isolated after the first positive test result, and after contact tracing with the full cooperation and assistance of the Argentina team staff and players, it was determined that she had no high-risk contacts. She has been deemed ineligible for the length of the tournament. Goalkeeper Laurina Oliveros (Boca Juniors) replaced her in the squad. Oliveros was appropriately tested in accordance with U.S. Soccer's protocols before being confirmed eligible to play. Another player was also isolated after inconsistent test results on arrival. After contact tracing was done, it was determined that the player had high-risk contact with two other players. All three players have been deemed ineligible for the first match on February 18. All three players would have additional testing to determine their eligibility for the following two games.

In the first round of matches on February 18, the U.S. defeated a strong Canadian team 1-0 in English-born Bev Priestman's first match in charge of the Maple Leafs. Rose Lavelle scored the winner from eight yards out nine minutes from the end of the match in front of a COVID restricted crowd of 3,104 in Orlando, with the total capacity limited to 4,000. Canada played well and was more fluent on the ball than many expected and gave the U.S. a very tough game. Early in the match, goalkeeper Kaelin Sheridan (Sky Blue FC) had to leave the game with a leg injury and was replaced by Steph Labbe (Rosengard of Sweden). The U.S. had the advantage in shots (29 vs. 8), shots on goal (10 vs. 3) and corner kicks (13 vs. 5). This was the first game between the two neighbors since the U.S. defeated Canada 3-0 in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament Final in February of 2020. The Americans are now 51-7-3 (W-D-L) all time against the Canadians.

In the battle of South American neighbors, Brazil's Marta (who plays in the same tournament stadium with her NWSL side Orlando Pride) scored her 109th career international goal in 152 games from the penalty spot in the 20th minute after Adriana was taken down in the box. Debinha (30th international goal) and Adriana (second goal in 25 games for Brazil) added early second-half goals for Brazil, which is coached by former U.S. national team coach Pia Sundhage. Mariana Larroquette (who will play for Kansas City in the NWSL this season) scored from a stellar header for Argentina in the 60th minute to close the gap before Geyse added Brazil's final goal 2ith her 17th international goal. The win came in Brazil's first match of 2021. Brazil did return to the field in late November and early December of 2020 for two matches vs. Ecuador, 6-0 and 8-0 wins in Sao Paulo.

In the second round of games on February 21, the U.S. defeated Brazil and their former national team head coach Pia Sundhage 2-0, with goals by Christen Press in the first half and a late volley by Meagan Rapinoe, with Lindsey Horan assisting on both goals. It was tremendous game to watch, with high intensity and free flowing play, though it was a bit chippy at times and the referee gave out four yellow cards, three to Brazil—Bruna, Tamires and Ludmila, and one to the American's Horan. The U.S. had 17 shots to 10 for Brazil and 5 shots on goal to 2 for Brazil. The referee, Melissa Borjas of Honduras, did a fine job controlling the spirited match; she has been a referee in the last two Women's World Cups. She has also worked men's professional league games in Honduras. The U.S. is now 30-5-3 all-time against Brazil and Vlatko Andonovski won his 15th game in a row since his appointment in late 2019.

In the other second round match, Canada defeated a resolute Argentina with a 1-0 victory from an injury-time goal by Sarah Stratigakis, after an excellent pass by Jess Fleming. Steph Labbe recorded the shutout in goal. La Albiceleste's best chance came in the 65th minute on a cross that Soledad James headed off the crossbar.

Three players made their full international debuts for Canada against Argentina: Samantha Chang, Jordyn Listro and Jade Rose Evelyne Viens made her second appearance while Stratigakis made her third appearance. Head coach Bev Priestman said after the game, "It wasn't our prettiest game, but I think as a group we found a way to win and that's what the best teams do. We got to see more young players in the lineup and for the group, we got to see them face some adversity and some frustration through playing a tough opponent. That happens in tournament football, but we knew the goal would come through the group being patient and believing in themselves."

img src="https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/SM2c3we7UaGRJShN_Vh79emMXgLFl312_gjEvwUPckMCgOTwjZRaHCuW1rYvcZ_yQjNF7UkUp43LIqb7zYEffMy-Zi7e3_edvqAIQhxu7DFAqIaayymmTOEkfrCAwMoJxqr7nNlLSPIbijsWxA"">

Canada's Sarah Stratigakis playing against Argentina

The Americans wrapped up their fourth SheBelieves Cup championship is six seasons with a 6-0 win over Argentina on February 24 (England and France have each won the title once). Megan Rapinoe scored twice and is now in the top ten goal scorers of all-time for the Americans with 57, passing Carin Gabarra (Jennings) who won the Golden Ball at the First FIFA Women's World Championship in 1991 in China. Carli Lloyd also scored once (in her 299th national team game) with Kristie Mewis, Alex Morgan and Christen Press getting on the scoresheet. For Morgan, she has now scored 35 goals in her last 45 games and is fifth all-time in scoring for the U.S. with 109 goals.

After entering the 2021 SheBelieves Cup without allowing a shot on goal in its last 302 minutes of play, the U.S. back line did not allow Argentina a shot on target versus 11 for the U.S. and the Argentines had only one shot all game compared to 26 for the Americans, who have not given up a goal in their last six games. U.S. goalkeeper Jane Campbell recorded her second career shutout in her third international start. The USA and Argentina have met on only four occasions in total, with the USA winning every game.

Final Standings—2021 SheBelieves Cup, presented by Visa

TEAM

GP

W

L

D

GF

GA

GD

PTS

USA

3

3

0

0

9

0

+9

9

Brazil

3

2

1

0

6

3

+3

6

Canada

3

1

2

0

1

3

-2

3

Argentina

3

0

3

0

1

10

-9

0

Brazil defeated Canada 2-0 on February 24 to finish in second place, with Canada third. Brazil scored in the 15th minute through the North Carolina Courage's Debinha and then in the 29th minute from Julia, after an Adriana shot had hit the post and bounded away. Canada most recently played Brazil to a 2-2 draw at the Tournoi de France in March 2020. Four years ago, Canada defeated host nation Brazil in the bronze medal match at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games to secure back-to-back podium finishes at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games.

For the tournament, Rose Lavelle, who scored the game winning goal in the narrow 1-0 U.S. win over Canada in the tournament opener, took home the SheBelieves Cup Most Valuable Player award with 31.7% of the total vote, narrowly edging teammate Christen Press, who received 30.9% of the votes cast. Brazil's Debinha (21.7%) and Adriana (15.7%) were the other finalists. A five-member committee selected the four finalists and the winner was determined by a combination of the committee votes as well as votes from over 8,000 fans.

The tournament was broadcast live to a record-setting 27 countries around the world, including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Eight European countries and 16 Other Central American, South American and Caribbean Countries in an effort to continue the growth of the women's game around the world. In addition, for the first time ever, all six games of the tournament were broadcast in Spanish in the United States. The matches featuring the Americans were on TUDN and the non-U.S. games on TUDN App/TUDN.tv. All the matches were also set to be broadcast across the USA in English on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2.

Global Broadcasters:

Brazil*: Globo (SporTV)

Canada*: OneSoccer

Portugal: Canal 11

Spain: Gol TV (some matches will air on delay)

SportKlub will broadcast the games in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and North Macedonia, the birth country of USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski.

Claro Sports will broadcast the games in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina (non-Argentina games).

SheBelieves Cup Team Rosters:

United States

The U.S. had some changes from the original tournament roster announced in early February as midfielder Jaelin Howell, a junior at Florida State, replaced Samantha Mewis after she suffered an ankle injury in the USA's Jan. 22 match against Colombia and missed the last three Women's Super League matches for Manchester City; Mewis stayed in England to complete her rehabilitation. The 21-year-old Howell has one career cap on Nov. 27, 2020 against the Netherlands during the USA's 2-0 win in Breda. Howell is a veteran of two youth World Cups for the USA. She played in the 2018 FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup in France and in 2016 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in Jordan. Howell helped Florida State to the 2018 NCAA Championship as a freshman and helped the Seminoles win last fall's ACC title.

In addition, Chicago Red Stars defender Casey (Short) Krueger (32 caps but just one in 2020 after being hampered by injuries) has replaced defender Alana Cook on the U.S. roster for the 2021 SheBelieves Cup after Cook was not released by Paris St. Germain. PSG denied the release of Cook due to the mandatory seven-day quarantine that would be required upon her re-entry into France. FIFA recently extended its COVID-19 rules, allowing club teams to not release players for international play during this window.

Four of the side play abroad, three in England and one in France (see roster below). The others play in the NWSL except for one still in college at Florida State University.

Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski has had the first chance in 2021 to work with backup keeper Casey Murphy and forwards Christen Press and Alex Morgan. Alex Morgan talked to the media, including this reporter just before the tournament about how different 2020 was for her. She sat out the start of what was supposed to an Olympic year for the U.S. national team, missing the CONCACAF qualifying tournament and the 2020 SheBelieves Cup while she was on maternity leave, awaiting the birth of her first child. She gave birth to Charlie Elena on May 7 of last year and she had still planned to be back for a July 2020 Olympic Games start, but the postponement of the tournament for a year gave her more preparation time. She played in Tottenham in England on loan in the fall from the Orlando Pride and then went to California for Christmas to be with her family when she contracted the COVID-19 virus, "We were together for 10, 12, 14 days kind of just recovering, sleeping as much as we could. I was fighting off a little bit of fever for quite a few days. But as I got back and took the right steps to get my body back into shape, I started to feel really good after about like three weeks or so. But it did take a little bit, and it took a lot of patience as well on my end." Morgan was optimistic about this year because she has had a long break to recover from a very successful but stressful 2019 with the national side. "I think that if there is a silver lining in this [COVID pandemic], it is that all of our bodies could have probably used the break that we would never have gotten until we retired, if not for this pandemic." Morgan did miss the January national team camp and games against Colombia because her positive test for COVID. Andonovski was pleased to have her back and told reporters before the tournament, "One thing about her now in camp that makes us all very excited and makes us very happy is that every day she's done better and better. [She's] literally progressing from training to training. So she's very close to or moving in a direction to be the best version of herself."

U.S. Women's National Team 2021 SheBelieves Cup Roster by Position (Club; Caps/Goals):

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 4), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage; 0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 65)

DEFENDERS (8): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 63/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 27/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 107/24), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 32/0), Kelley O'Hara (Washington Spirit; 133/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 4/1), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 179/0), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 48/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 105/20), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 88/20), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 1/0), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 48/13), Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyonnais, FRA; 2/1), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 18/3)

FORWARDS (6): Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 296/123), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 170/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 139/58), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 170/54), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns FC; 1/0), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 31/10)

Canada

For Canada, European travel restrictions because of COVID-19 severely impacted their roster as they lost Kadeisha Buchanan (Olympique Lyon), Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema (both Paris St. Germain) because their French clubs wouldn't release. PSG also didn't release U.S. defender Alana Cook (see above) and Brazilians Luana and Formiga.

Also unavailable for the SheBelieves Cup through injuries were Captain Christine Sinclair of the Portland Thorns FC, Diana Matheson of Kansas City NWSL, Erin McLeod of Orlando Pride, and Bianca St-Georges of the Chicago Red Stars. Goalkeeper McLeod and fullback St-Georges featured in Canada's earlier pre-tournament camp.

Five of the Canadian roster members play in England's FA WSL, two are in France and one is playing in Sweden's Damallsvenskan for the 2020 season.

As part of the continued preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Canada Soccer's Women's National Team announced that they will face England in an away Women's International Friendly match on 13 April 2021. The international match will take place during the April FIFA international window with location and kick off time to be announced at a later date. This will be the 14th international meeting between the two sides since they first met on 6 June 1995 in Helsingborg, Sweden, when both nations took part in the FIFA Women's World Cup for the first time. In the most recent meeting between the two nations on 5 April 2019 in Manchester, England, Canada won 1-0 after captain Christine Sinclair scored the winning goal in the 80th minute.

Canada Roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Stephanie Labbe (Rosengard, SWE), 12-Rylee Foster (Liverpool, ENG), 18-Kailen Sheridan (Sky Blue FC)

DEFENDERS (9): 2-Allysha Chapman (Houston Dash), 3-Jade Rose (Unionville-Milliken SC), 4-Shelina Zadorsky (Tottenham, ENG), 5-Quinn (OL Reign), 14-Gabrielle Carle (Florida State Univ.), 20-Jayde Riviere (Univ. of Michigan), 21-Jordyn Listro (Orlando Pride), 22-Lindsay Agnew (NC Courage), 23-Vanessa Gilles (Bordeaux, FRA)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 7-Julia Grosso (Univ. of Texas), 8-Samantha Chang (Univ. of South Carolina), 10-Sarah Stratigakis (Oakville Blue Devils FC), 11-Desiree Scott (Kansas City NWSL), 13-Sophie Schmidt (Houston Dash), 17-Jessie Fleming (Chelsea, ENG)

FORWARDS (5): 6-Deanne Rose (Univ. of Florida), 9-Evelyne Viens (Paris FC, FRA), 15-Nichelle Prince (Houston Dash), 16-Janine Beckie (Manchester City, ENG), 19-Adriana Leon (West Ham United, ENG)

Argentina

For Argentina, eleven members of the squad play outside of country—five in Spain, one each in Brazil, Colombia, China and Italy, with two playing in America—one in the NWSL (Mariana Larroquette who has recently joined Kansas City) and one in college at a small university in the Pacific Northwest (Sophia Braun, who played at the Portland Thorns Development Academy before going to Gonzaga University in Spokane in 2018). Larroquette has the most goals for Argentina of the roster members with 15 in 52 caps. Sole James, who we have featured in the past when she played club ball in Brazil, has 6 goals from 17 caps and is now in China with Changchun Dazhong.

I have covered Argentina at every one of their Women World Cup appearances—in 2003 in the U.S., in 2007 in China and in 2019 in France (attending their amazing fightback to tie Scotland 3-3 to knock the Scots out of a Round of 16 berth) and the common denominator in all of those games has been head coach Carlos Borrello. He coached the side from 1998-2012. The team won their first major title in 2006 at the Copa America Femenina. He also coached the U-20 at FIFA Women's World Cups in 2006, 2008 and 2012. He returned in 2017 and the next year they finished in third at the Copa and made the WWC in France after dismantling Panama in the intercontinental plays in (5-1 on aggregate). I thought he was out of his depth in the WWC's in the States and China but did quite a credible job in France; however a number of players retired in 2019 rather than continue to play for him, including former Washington Spirit star Estefania Banini.

Argentina Training Squad:

GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Solana Pereyra (U.D. Tacuense, ESP), 12- Laurina Oliveros (Boca Juniors)

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Agustina Barroso (Palmeiras (BRA), 3-Eliana Stabile (Boca Juniors), 4-Marina Delgado (UAI Urquiza), 6-Aldana Cometti (Levante U.D., ESP), 13-Sophia Braun (Gonzaga University, USA), 18-Romina Nuñez (UAI Urquiza), 21-Adriana Sachs (Boca Juniors), 22-Natalie Juncos (Racing)

MIDFIELDERS (7):5-Vanesa Santana (Sporting Huelva, ESP), 8-Clarisa Huber (Boca Juniors), 10-Dalila Ippolito (Juventus, ITA), 14- Miriam Mayorga (Boca Juniors), 16-Lorena Benitez (Boca Juniors), 17-Valentina Camara (C.D. Femarguín, ESP), 20-Daiana Falfan (UAI Urquiza)

FORWARDS (6):7-Yael Oviedo (Independiente Santa Fe, COL), 9-Sole Jaimes (Changchun Dazhong, CHN), 11-Yamila Rodriguez (Boca Juniors), 15-Milagros Menendez (Granada F.C., ESP), 19-Mariana Larroquette (Kansas City NWSL, USA)

Brazil

Brazil made its second appearance in the SheBelieves Cup and first since 2019, Brazil's roster for 2021 featured players from leagues around the world, including two current NWSL stars in Marta (Orlando Pride) and Debinha (North Carolina Courage). Camila and Andressinha, who both previously played in the NWSL, while veteran forward Cristiane played in the United States for the Chicago Red Stars during the WPS era. Ten of the 23 players on Brazil's roster play their club soccer domestically with 13 abroad, while five play in Spain, two each in China, Italy and the USA, and one each in Portugal and England, where Ivana is a reserve with Manchester United.

Gio (Giovana Queiroz Costa of FC Barcelona of Spain) came in late against the U.S. in Orlando for her second game with Brazil and played internationally at the youth level for Brazil, Spain and the U.S. She joined Barcelona in the summer of 2020 from Madrid CFF, who she debuted in the Spanish league at 15-years-old. Born in Brazil to Brazilian parents, she moved to the USA and then Spain.

BRAZIL WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM ROSTER BY POSITION:

GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Bárbara (Avaí Kindermann FC), 12-Aline (UD Granadilla Tenerife, ESP), 22-Leticia (Benfica, POR)

DEFENDERS (8): 2-Kathellen (Inter Milan, ITA), 3-Bruna (Internacional), 4-Rafaelle (Changchun Dazhong, CHN), 6-Tamires (Corinthians), 18-Camila (Palmeiras), 20-Gio (FC Barcelona, ESP), 21-Tainara (Palmeiras), 23-Jucinara (Levante UD, ESP)

MIDFIELDERS (7):5-Geyse (Real Madrid, ESP), 7-Andressa (AS Roma, ITA), 8-Ivana (Manchester United, ENG), 13-Júlia (Avaí Kindermann FC), 14-Adriana (Corinthians), 15-Chú (Palmeiras), 17-Andressinha (Corinthians)

FORWARDS (5):9-Debinha (NC Courage, USA), 10-Marta (Orlando Pride, USA), 11-Cristiane (Santos FC), 16-Beatriz (Wuhan Xinjiyuan, CHN), 19-Ludmila (Atlético de Madrid, ESP)

Other friendlies during the FIFA International Window

England 6 Northern Ireland 0

England easily dispatched Northern Ireland 6-0 at the FA's Training Ground at St. George's Park, with Ellen White (Manchester City) scoring a hat trick, Lucy Bronze (Manchester City) scoring once and providing two goals, Houston Dash's Rachel Daly scoring once and 21-year-old Ella Toone (Manchester United) scoring the final from the penalty spot after Chloe Kelly (Manchester City) was taken down in the penalty area. Toone was playing in her first match at the full national team level.

After the game, Northern Ireland head coach Shiels told the media that, "We don't put any emphasis on winning in friendlies. England is stronger and in speed of play and ahead of us with superior athletics. That was a big obstacle to overcome. It's all about how we play in April [during the Women's EURO play-ins]." He wasn't making excuses but he had five starters unavailable for his defense through injuries, along with the stiff wind blowing during the match that was in England's favor in the first half, which Shiels called, "gale force." A day before the match on February 22, Shiels talked with the media about how important the game was even though to his team, "It's a fantastic opportunity…It's important to get better, improve and take it into the qualifiers." He did acknowledge the gulf between the two teams: "England has 9 [full-time] players from Manchester City and we have 9 amateurs from Glentoran I think;" he actually had three from Glentoran but 14 players in total from the amateur Northern Ireland national league, so his point was well made of the difference between the two national sides on experience and professionalism. He also emphasized that friendlies "are about entertainment and performance, It's not about winning all the time."

The fact that most of his players are amateur is a big factor for Northern Ireland for the important home and away leg against unknown opponents in April (see more discussion below); most of the other five squads are likely to be fielding virtually an entire roster of professionals. Northern Ireland forward Lauren Wade said in the same media call the day before the England match that she has left Glasgow City—for whom she scored in the quarterfinals against Wolfsburg in the Women's Champions League last summer—and, since the Scottish women's leagues are shut down for COVID, she has come home and will probably play in the amateur league for the interim. Unfortunately, the league has not started its 2021 season yet in Northern Ireland, so other than national team practices which Shiels is holding regularly, the players are on their own. Games like England and the play-ins do provide a shop window for those hoping to go abroad and play with professional clubs. Despite the FIFA international window, Shiels said that local companies where his players work do not have to release them for national team friendlies, "It is not compulsory to set them off of work," whereas they will be allowed off for the Women's EURO Qualifiers. A few of his players are nurses and again are needed for an even bigger constant health battle with COVID so he clearly faces obstacles that many other national coaches around the world do not.

Kenny Shiels also said that he would like to see an equivalent National Training Center in Northern Ireland to England's and joked that it could be named, "after our own St. George," [Best] the former Manchester United superstar. See more from our individual interview with Kenny Shiels in last week's column: (The Week in Women's Football: Interview with Kenny Shiels; Tournoi de France change; Chris Deeley's new book - Tribal Football).

The six 2022 Women's EUROS teams set to playoff for three remaining sports include: Russia (Group A), Northern Ireland (Group C), Czech Republic (Group D), Portugal (Group E), Switzerland Group H (who narrowly missed out on an automatic qualifier to Austria on goal difference) and Ukraine (Group I). Looking at this from a Northern Ireland perspective, their best chance would probably be against Czech Republic who made the playoffs of the European Championship qualifiers in 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009 or Ukraine, who participated in one Women's EURO Finals in 2009, where they lost to the Netherlands 2-0 and Denmark 2-1 but defeated Finland 1-0 in the group stage. It is very encouraging that three of the six play-in berths are contested by Eastern/Central European teams, showing the growth in the women's game in the region, that we have been discussing for the past few years.

France versus Switzerland

France defeated Switzerland 2-0 on February 20. Captain Wendie Renard scored in the 12th minute from an assist by her Olympique Lyon teammate Amel Majri and then 23-year-old substitute Perle Morroni (PSG) scored with an assist from Eve Perisset, who transferred this season to Bordeaux after four seasons with Paris St. Germain. Morroni spent a few games with Barcelona in Spain in 2017/18. The game was played in Metz after France's Tournoi de France was cancelled because Iceland and Norway dropped out because of COVID-19 travel protocols. Three days later in Sedan, on February 23, France again defeated the Swiss national team 2-0, with Wendie Renaud scoring both goals in the second half.

Netherlands versus Germany

On February 24, reigning Women's Euro Champions the Netherlands defeated reigning Olympic champions Germany 2-1 in Venlo with goals by Jackie Groenen (Manchester United of the WSL) and Danielle van de Donk (Arsenal) off-setting a Laura Freigang's (Eintracht Frankfurt) tally just before halftime.

Mexico versus Costa Rica

Mexico and Costa Rica played two friendlies during the February FIFA international window. In the first game in an eerily empty Estadio Azteca in Mexico City (where I have seen national team and club games in front of huge crowds since 1986), on February 20, Mexico defeated Costa Rica 3-1 on goals by Rebeca Bernal (Monterrey), Katty Martinez and Sandor Mayor (both Tigres) within the first 55 minutes with Fabiola Villalobos pulling one back with 8 minutes to go. Costa Rica defender Mariana Benavids said after the game, "There is positivism. We know that Saturday's result was not the desired one, but…we have a new opportunity to make things better and reaffirm many [things] that we did well. The group is aware of this new opportunity that is being presented to us and also of the selection we face. Costa Rica improved in the second match on Feb 23 and left Mexico with a scoreless deadlock.

Mexico utilized 17 players from the Liga MX Femenil along with five from Europe (three in Spain, one from the FA WSL in England and one in the Netherlands) along with four from U.S. Universities, with UCLA's Karina Rodríguez called up to the national team for the first time.

#

Name

Club/University

Position

1

Santiago Cisneros Aurora Cecilia

PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands)

GK

2

Alvarado Nativity Emily Sofia

Texas Christian University (U.S.)

GK

3

González Rodríguez Itzel

Tijuana

GK

4

Hernandez Garcia Dorian Montserrat

America

MF

5

Joana's Split Oaks

Atlas

MF

6

Bernal Rodríguez Rebeca

Monterrey

MF

7

Evangelist Chavez Diana Laura

Monterrey

MF

8

Perez Jimenez Dania Nicole

Monterrey

MF

9

Dorrell Silvana Flowers

Reading F.C. (ENG)

MF

10

Fuentes Liliana Market

Tigers

MF

11

Sánchez Morales María Guadalupe

Tigers

MF

12

Spiny Maple Daniela

America

F

13

González Esquivel Alison Hecnary

Atlas

F

14

Cervantes Herrera Alicia

Guadalajara

F

15

Hernandez Kiana Angelica Palaces

Real Sociedad (Spain)

F

16

Martinez Abad Katty

Tigers

F

17

Major Gutierrez Sandra

Stephany

Tigers

F

18

Flowers Grigoriu Monica Irina

Monterrey

D

19

Sánchez Piñon María Andrea

Monterrey

D

20

Rodriguez Cubero Kimberly Vanessa

Oklahoma State University (U.S.)

D

21

Robles Salas Vaitiare Kenti

Real Madrid (Spain)

D

22

López Fuentes Jimena

SD Eibar (Spain)

D

23

Espinoza Casas Greta Alejandra

Tigers

D

24

Sierra García Bianca Elissa

Tigers

D

25

Reyes Stubblefield Reyna Rene

University of Alabama (U.S.)

D

26

Rodriguez Karina Anais

University of California, Los Angeles (U.S.)

D

Costa Rica's long-team head coach Amelia Valverde called in six legionnaires among her total squad of 25 for the two game series in Mexico; five players from Europe—two from Spain, one from France, one in Israel and one based in Scotland, where the league has been postponed because of COVID—and two based in the NWSL.

Goalkeepers: Priscilla Tapia (CS Herediano), Dinnia Diaz (Deportivo Saprissa), Noelia Bermudez (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain)

Defenders: Daniela Cruz (Deportivo Saprissa), Maria Paula Coto (CS Herediano), Stephanie Blanco (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain), Lixy Rodriguez (L.D. Alajuelense), Valery Sandoval (Codea-IDA), Fabiola Sanchez (Ironi Nir Ramat HaSharon of Israel after a short time in 2017 with Kilmarnock in Scotland), Fabiola Villalobos (L.D. Alajuelense), Mariana Benavides (CS Herediano)

Midfielders: Katherine Alvarado (Deportivo Saprissa), Cristel Sandi (Dimas Escazu), Yaniela Arias (Dimas Escazu), Sharon Jimenez (Dimas Escazu), Shirley Cruz (OL Reign, U.S.), Melissa Herrera (Stade Reims, France), Gloriana Villalobos (CS Herediano), Cristin Granados (CS Herediano), Raquel Rodriguez (Portland Thorns, U.S.)

Forwards: Catalina Estrada, Carolina Venegas (Deportivo Saprissa), Sofia Varela (Deportivo Saprissa), Maria Paula Salas (L.D. Alajuelense), Priscila Chinchilla (Glasgow City, Scotland)

Nigeria wins the Turkish Women's Cup

Nigeria, which late last year appointed American coach Randy Waldrum as their women's national team coach (he will combine the position with his current job coaching the women's team at the University of Pittsburgh), won the Turkish Women's Cup (also known as the Alanya Gold City Cup) in Antalya during the FIFA International window. Nigeria defeated CSKA Moscow 1-0 on February 18, Uzbekistan by the same 1-0 score line on February 20 and then smashed Equatorial Guinea 9-0 two days after that. Nigeria's Asisat Oshoala scored four goals in the three games to win the Golden Boot, followed by Nilufar Kudratova with three. Nigeria impressively reached the Round of 16 at the 2019 WWC in France but then were knocked out of the Tokyo Olympics Third round qualifiers by Cote d'Ivoire later that year in October, falling on the away goals rule after a 1-1 aggregate tie; they have not played an international since.

The Falcons became the first African side to triumph at the tournament in Turkey, following the third place finish by Ghana's Black Queens last year. Chile won the trophy with Hungary as runner-up in 2020. Poland (2017) and France (2018 and 2019) are the other previous winners of the spring tournament.

Pos

Team

Pld

W

D

L

GF

GA

GD

Pts

1

Nigeria

3

3

0

0

11

0

+11

9

2

Uzbekistan

3

2

0

1

6

1

+5

6

3

CSKA Moscow

3

1

0

2

2

2

0

3

4

Equatorial Guinea

3

0

0

3

0

16

−16

0

Original plans called for two separate tournaments with four teams each. Zambia dropped out and India, Serbia and Ukraine played friendly matches, along with a Russian selection. India lost to Serbia 2-0 on February 17. On February 20, Ukraine and Serbia tied 1-0 while India fell to the Russian side 8-0. On February 23, India fell narrowly to the Ukraine 3-2 while Serbia defeated Russia 2-0.

Coach Waldrum invited 23 players into camp with 15 based abroad; eight came from Spanish clubs, while three are in Sweden and one each is based in France, Germany, Portugal and Turkey.

Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (C.D. Pozoalbense, Spain); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France); Christy Ohiaeriaku (Edo Queens)

Defenders: Onome Ebi; Glory Ogbonna (Edo Queens); Osinachi Ohale (Madrid CFF, Spain); Mariam Ibrahim (Nasarawa Amazons); Chidinma Okeke (Madrid CFF, Spain); Habeebat Akinwande (FC Robo)

Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Madrid CFF, Spain); Esther Sunday (ALG SPOR, Turkey); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskilstuna, Sweden); Antoinette Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskilstuna, Sweden); Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal); Patricia George (Sands FC, Germany)

Forwards: Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Uchenna Kanu (Linkopings, Sweden); Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Francisca Ordega; Chinwendu Ihezuo; Gift Monday (FC Robo); Charity Adule (SD Eibar, Spain)

Rasheedat Ajibade and Christy Ucheibe withdrew due to administrative reasons while Chiamaka Nnadozie and Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene were exempted for health protocol reasons.

One interesting new addition is American midfielder Toni Payne (25), who is currently with Sevilla in Spain after starting in Europe in the Netherlands with Ajax. She played collegiately at Duke and was capped by the U.S. at the youth and U-23 levels before recently joining Nigeria. Randy Waldrum and I are due to talk next month, but we have corresponded on his use of diaspora, of which Payne is the first under his reign. There are large Nigerian communities in England, the U.S. and other nations that Waldrum could connect with to further expand the pool of potential prospects for the women's national team, not just at the senior level but for youth squads as well.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get your copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey

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Source : https://www.tribalfootball.com/articles/the-week-in-women-s-football-euros-2022-qualifiers-uswnt-takes-out-shebelievescup-nigeria-triumphs-4360984

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The Week in Womens Football: Euros 2022 qualifiers; USWNT takes out SheBelievesCup; Nigeria triumphs;

Source:Tribal Football

The Week in Womens Football: Euros 2022 qualifiers; USWNT takes out SheBelievesCup; Nigeria triumphs;