Boyd’s, Md. (5/12/19) – Washington Spirit players Rose Lavelle and Mallory Pugh will compete in their final set of friendlies with the United States Women’s National Team before the team travels to France for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Head coach Jill Ellis announced Lavelle and Pugh as part of her 23-player squad on May 2 to represent the Stars and Stripes as the U.S. WNT looks to defend their World Cup title. This will be both Spirit players’ first appearance in world soccer’s premier tournament.
The U.S. WNT begin the first of three matches in the Send-Off Series this afternoon against South Africa at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, set for 4:30 p.m. ET on FOX. While the United States has taken part in all eight World Cup tournaments since its inception in 1991, South Africa will be playing in it’s first ever World Cup this June and looking to use this test against the world’s number one ranked team to help prepare themselves. The teams have only met one prior time in July 2016, with the U.S. coming out on top 1-0.
Following the Mother’s Day match, the team will travel east to St. Louis, Missouri, to play the Football Ferns of New Zealand on May 16 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN2). New Zealand qualified for the 2019 World Cup by claiming the Oceania Women’s Cup while outscoring its opponents 43-0 over the five-game span.
The U.S. and New Zealand recently played in a pair of friendlies in 2017 with the U.S. winning both games by 3-1 and 5-0 scores as well as a 2-0 victory in the group stage of the 2016 Olympics. Busch Stadium also hosted these two teams in 2015 in a 4-0 U.S. victory as the U.S. was preparing for the 2015 World Cup.
After a ten-day break, the U.S. will conclude the Send-Off Series and play their final friendly against a familiar foe in Mexico at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on May 26 with a kickoff time of 12 p.m. ET aired on ESPN. Mexico will be the United States’ tenth opponent of the calendar year and final opponent before they take on Thailand in its first match of group F of the World Cup on June 11.
Of the ten matches, eight opponents are teams that will also be taking part in the World Cup, with Belgium and Mexico the only two that did not qualify. The United States has also played teams from all six FIFA Confederations: Europe (France, England, Belgium, Spain), Asia (Australia, Japan), South America (Brazil), Africa (South Africa), Oceania (New Zealand), and Concacaf (Mexico).