NZ among rivals for USWNT in SheBelieves Cup

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The United States women’s national team will compete with Czech Republic, Iceland and New Zealand in the 2022 SheBelieves Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Wednesday.

The tournament will run Feb. 17-23, starting with a pair of doubleheaders at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. The final day of games will be held at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

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The U.S. will open the tournament against the Czechs on Feb. 17, followed by a game against New Zealand three days later. The Americans will conclude the tournament against Iceland on Feb. 23.

“These will be the first matches of what will be a really important year, and as focus on World Cup qualifying, the SheBelieves Cup will be extremely valuable for the continued development of the team,” USMNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski said in a statement.

“As a coaching staff, when we are integrating newer players, we need as many games as possible, and all three of our opponents are very hard to play against. They will all be highly motivated to have the chance to play in this great tournament, so we’re not only looking forward to competitive matches, but also playing in front of fans, as there was only limited attendance at last year’s tournament in Florida.”

The tournament was first contested in 2016, with the USWNT winning the inaugural edition. France took top honors in 2017, followed by the USWNT in 2018 and England in 2019. The Americans have since won the past two editions of the tournament.

The match involving the USWNT and the Czech Republic will mark just the second ever between the two teams. In January 2000, the USWNT defeated the Czechs 8-1 in Australia at a tournament.

The USWNT has played New Zealand 18 times, most recently a 6-1 victory in group play in July at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. The USWNT got goals from Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press, Alex Morgan and two own goals.

The USWNT has played Iceland 14 times, with the last encounter being a 0-0 tie in 2015 during Algarve Cup group play.

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