The U.S. women’s national team will play eight winter and spring matches in the U.S., including an April 7 friendly with Belgium at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, before heading to France to defend its title in this summer’s World Cup.
The draw for the World Cup, which kicks off in June, will be held Saturday.
The pre-World Cup schedule also includes a May 12 game with South Africa at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara as part of the team’s send-off series. The final game of the send-off series will be against Mexico in Harrison, N.J.
The top-ranked U.S. women will play their first six games of 2019 against World Cup qualifiers ranked in the top 11 in the world by FIFA, beginning with January exhibitions against No. 4 France and No. 12 Spain in Europe. The women will then play No. 7 Japan, No. 3 England and No. 8 Brazil in the She Believes Cup before meeting No. 6 Australia in Colorado.
“This schedule checks a lot of important boxes in our preparation for the World Cup,” coach Jill Ellis said. “We’ll get to experience a variety of teams in regards to their strengths and styles of play and almost all of the countries will be in their World Cup preparation as well.
“We are playing tough games in Europe, which is vitally important, and also get to play quality opponents in front of our home fans. These games will be a major factor in pushing us to be at our peak once we arrive in France next summer.”
The April game at Banc of California Stadium, home to the Los Angeles Football Club, will be the first for the team in the Exposition Park stadium, which is less than a year old. The women’s national team has played more games in the nearby Stub Hub Center, home to the Galaxy, than any other stadium in the world but is bypassing Carson before the World Cup.
The men’s national team, which has traditionally held its winter training camp at the StubHub Center then played a winter friendly there, is also avoiding Carson, moving its January camp to Chula Vista ahead of exhibitions in Glendale, Ariz., and San Jose.
Three of the women’s team’s winter and spring games will be played in NFL stadiums and four in MLS venues. The other will be played in Busch Stadium, home to baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.
Jan. 19 vs. France at Stade Oceane, La Havre, France
Jan. 22 vs. Spain at Estadio Jose Rico Perez Alicante, Spain
* Feb. 27 vs. Japan, Talen Energy Stadium, Chester, Pa.
* March 2 vs. England, Nissan Stadium, Nashville
* March 5 vs. Brazil, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa
April 4 vs. Australia, Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colo.
** May 12 vs. South Africa, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara
** May 16 vs. TBA, Busch Stadium, St. Louis
** May 26 vs. Mexico, Red Bull Arena, Harrison, N.J.
* She Believes Cup