COMMERCE CITY — The United States women’s national team is returning to the Centennial State.
U.S. Soccer announced Thursday that the USWNT will face Colombia at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City for a friendly on Saturday, June 25, at 5:30 p.m., in its first match in Colorado since 2019.
The match, coming against the 26th-ranked team in women’s international soccer, will be a tune-up for the U.S. women ahead of the start of qualification for both the 2023 Women’s World Cup and 2024 Olympic Games. The U.S. will face Colombia a second time in one last friendly at 8 p.m. June 28 at Rio Tinto in Sandy, Utah, prior to qualifying.
Three players from Colorado have earned regular call-ups to the USWNT — Lindsey Horan of Golden, Sophia Smith of Windsor and Mallory Pugh of Highlands Ranch. Windsor native and Racing Louisville rookie Jaelin Howell has earned five caps for the team and could also be in the mix, as head coach Vlatko Andonovski faces his most difficult choice for team selection yet.
Colombia is the second-highest ranked team in South America behind Brazil. It has qualified for the Women’s World Cup twice in 2011 and 2015. The USWNT will be a pivotal test for the Colombians as well as they prepare to host CONMEBOL’s Copa América Femenina — South America’s Women’s World Cup qualifying event — July 8-30. The U.S. is 7-0-1 all-time against Colombia.
“Colombia has a good chance to make it to the World Cup and both teams will be in our final preparations for our qualifying tournaments, so I expect some highly competitive matches between players who are competing to represent their countries in some really important games,” Andonovski said in a statement. “When we get to Colorado, we’ll be coming off a stretch of more than two months that the players have been with their clubs and away from the National Team environment, so we’ll be looking to get maximum value out of our last days and games together before we go to Mexico for qualifying.”
In July, the USWNT will travel to Monterrey, Mexico, for the CONCACAF W Championship, which will double as the continental World Cup and Olympic Games qualifying event.
On Tuesday, the USWNT found out its opponents for group play in the eight-team CONCACAF W Championship: Haiti (July 4), Jamaica (July 7) and host Mexico (July 11). The top two teams from Group A and Group B automatically qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, which will be held in Australia and New Zealand. The winner of the entire tournament will earn direct entry into the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
The USWNT is undefeated to start 2022 at 4-1-0, and has outscored opponents 28-1. Colorado natives have scored nearly one-third of the team’s goals with nine so far (Pugh has five, Smith three and Howell scored her first senior international goal in a 9-1 win over Uzbekistan on April 9).
The late June friendly vs. Colombia will be the first time the USWNT has played at DSGP since April 4, 2019, when 17,264 watched Pugh score twice in a 5-3 win over Australia.
The team has played in Colorado six previous times, once at the old Mile High Stadium back in September 1999 when 25,099 fans saw the famed “99ers” team thump Brazil 6-0, and in Commerce City five other times, including matches against Brazil (2008), Australia (2013), China (2014), Japan (2016) and New Zealand (2017). Overall, the team has a 5-1-0 record at DSGP with one tie — a 3-3 draw against Japan.
“We’re thrilled to be able to welcome back the U.S. Women’s National Team to DICK’S Sporting Goods Park and provide our fans with the opportunity to see the defending World Cup champions in person,” Wayne Brant, a Rapids business operations executive, said in a statement released by the club. “With so many native Coloradans on the team, and such a vibrant local women’s soccer scene, hosting the U.S. Women is all the more special to us and something we greatly look forward to each year.”
Tickets for the Colombia game go on sale April 27 for presale, with tickets released to the general public on May 2.
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