The women’s national teams of the United States and Canada will meet for the first time since their epic Olympic semifinal clash last summer in an international friendly on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET (ESPNews) in Toronto.
It will also be their first meeting since a majority of the players for both national teams found new homes in the National Women’s Soccer League, including a quartet with the Washington Spirit.
Spirit defender Ali Krieger and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris are on the U.S. roster while midfielder Diana Matheson and defender Robyn Gayle were named to the Canadian team.
Matheson, 29, leads the group with 150 career international appearances, ahead of Gayle, 28, who has played 71 times for Canada. Krieger, 28, has 33 caps for the U.S. while Harris, 27, registered her first two appearances earlier this year.
“I think nothing could be better for the women’s game around the world than the growth of the rivalry between the U.S. and Canada,” Spirit general manager Chris Hummer said. “The partnership between these federations in NWSL is brilliant. The two national teams can’t play one another every month, but within NWSL their players can compete every day to help each country improve.”
While the U.S. leads the series all-time with a 44-3-5 record, the intensity of the rivalry between the two nations was fueled like never before by the U.S. team’s 4-3 victory in overtime at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, last August. But with the formation of the NWSL, players from both teams have also gotten to meet and develop relationships with their international foes in ways they hadn’t before.
“It’s been interesting because I didn’t know a lot of the U.S. players before,” Matheson said recently. “These are the first ones I’ve met. So far I love my teammates here so it’ll be interesting to go back. When you have your Canada and U.S. jerseys, it’s a totally different story.”
Matheson is the only Spirit player who was on the field in the Olympic semifinal, playing all 120 minutes while Gayle was on the bench for the Canadians. Krieger was recovering at the time from injury and Harris was working her way into the senior U.S. team.
Krieger, Matheson and Gayle have started all eight of the Spirit’s matches this season while Harris missed the most recent two games with a sore knee after manning the net in the first six games, but is recovered and available if called upon by U.S. boss Tom Sermanni on Sunday.
The Washington Spirit will host a viewing party for the international friendly at The Laughing Man Tavern in Washington, D.C., beginning at 4 p.m. Washington Spirit viewing party for U.S. vs. Canada