Australia to host U.S. women’s team in 2 soccer friendlies

Sports

SYDNEY (AP)Australia is set to host the U.S. women’s national team for the first time in 21 years in a two-game friendly series later this month.

The Matildas are scheduled to play the top-ranked Americans at Sydney’s Stadium Australia on Nov. 27 and at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, north of Sydney, on Nov. 30.

Crowds will be allowed at both games, with both cities recently coming out of extended lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australians are coming off a win and a draw against Brazil. It’s the U.S. team’s first tour Down Under ahead of the 2023 World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

”This trip and these games will be fantastic tests and learning opportunities,” U.S. head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a statement. ”Getting to go to one of the countries hosting the next Women’s World Cup and having to deal with the travel and facing one of the best teams in the world is a great way to end the year.”

The last meeting between the teams was the bronze medal match at the Tokyo Olympics in August, which the U.S. women won 4-3.

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson said hosting the U.S. team ”is another great taste of what the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia and New Zealand 2023 will look and feel like.”

Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson, a former assistant coach with the USWNT, said the Americans will be the sixth top 10 team his No. 11-ranked Australian squad has faced in 2021.

”With each match, we are continuing to get one day better as a team, and at the same time providing invaluable experience to the younger players,” he said. ”The U.S. Women’s National Team are a team with quality across the park and will mark another great challenge for the playing group.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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