United States women’s coach Vlatko Andonovski is hoping a sold-out Wembley Stadium will create an atmosphere to give his team a real test in next month’s friendly against England, with the World Cup less than a year away.
Twice world champions Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn were joined by an array of young talent in the American squad named on Thursday, with the team due to face England on Oct. 7 and Spain in Pamplona on Oct. 11.
England are on a high after winning this year’s European Championship and completed a flawless World Cup qualifying campaign this month.
“We wanted to go through adversity and figure out a way to overcome it. And what better way to do that than playing in front of a full stadium away, 90,000 people, against England and Spain later on,” Andonovski told reporters on Thursday.
It will be the first time the American women have played at Wembley since Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn helped the Stars and Stripes to their fourth Olympic gold medal in 2012.
“They know what it takes to win big games and play environments like this and be successful,” said Andonovski.
“But then we have the next generation... the younger ones that have to experience this, which I believe is going to be the closest that we can get to playing in the actual World Cup game.”
They include 17-year-old high school senior Alyssa Thompson, the youngest to get a call-up in some five years, and 20-year-old Trinity Rodman, who earned NWSL Rookie of the Year and U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year honours in 2021.
Veteran Alex Morgan was ruled out with a knee injury.
It is expected to be the second-largest crowd the U.S. women have ever played for, behind the 1999 World Cup final in Pasadena, California which drew over 90,000 fans.
“Looking forward... to show what women’s soccer means around the world, because this is the next stage in the evolution of the game, the support of the game,” said Andonovski.
Andonovski played down the controversy surrounding the Spain team after the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) said last week that 15 members of the squad had threatened to quit if head coach Jorge Vilda was not fired. The players later denied asking for Vilda to be sacked.
“We’re preparing for the best that Spain can put out there,” Andonovski said.