Hello there. Well, this promises to be quite the showpiece event at this inaugural Tournament of Nations, a four-team, round-robin comp that also features Brazil and Japan and will see games played in Seattle, San Diego and Carson. With all four teams currently residing in the top 10 of Fifa’s world rankings, we’re not going to be short on quality over the next six days.
The US (ranked one) and Australia (seven) have plenty of shared history, making this an especially intriguing clash at CenturyLink Field. The pair have faced each other 26 times before – incredibly the US have never lost – and this will be their first meeting since their opening World Cup group match in 2015, when the Matildas showed just how much they had improved, despite a 3-1 reverse against the eventual tournament winners.
Adding to the familiarity between the two sides are the five members of the Australian squad who currently ply their trade in the NWSL. Striker Sam Kerr, in particular, is certain to have featured in US pre-match team talks after her recent form for Sky Blue FC has lit up the league – the 11 goals she has scored so far this season has her second to just Megan Rapinoe in the race for the golden boot.
Kerr joins keeper Lydia Willians (Houston Dash), Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), and Hayley Raso as names instantly familiar with US soccer fans, but quality runs all the way through Alen Stajic’s squad and the USWNT will need be wary of threats from all over the park if they are to maintain their unbeaten streak today.
This isn’t just about team records, mind. Out-of-season tournaments (of which the US hosts its fair share) have their sceptics, but crucial rankings points are up for grabs here – especially important for the Australians heading into a World Cup year. If they can rise above Japan (currently six in the world), the Matildas will get a seeded spot.
So, don’t expect any ground to be ceded easily here. Kick-off is nearly upon us, so sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Oh, and please feel free to get in touch on the email – firstname.lastname@example.org – or Twitter @mike_hytner with your thoughts on today’s game, and anything else you feel like getting off your chest.