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FOOTBALL Preview: U.S. women start 2019 World Cup vs. no. 3 France at Le Havre

It’s 2019 now, and the no. 1-ranked United States women’s national team is in France – where the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be held – to play the third-ranked French team in a friendly on Saturday (19th).

The game is hardly for fun, as the U.S. will return to Le Havre to play its third World Cup group match this June against Sweden, although that game may not mean much of the American squad wins its first two games (vs. Thailand and Chile) and is already through to the second round.

But Saturday’s match at the Stade Oceane – to be shown live on FS1 and UDN at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time – will be the start of an arduous pre-World Cup schedule of 10 games. The first two are in Europe, against France and then on 22 January against Spain in Alicante; the rest are in the U.S.

The U.S. roster for the France and Spain matches include all of the team’s first-line players: strikers Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Mallory Pugh, Christen Press and more, and midfielders Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis, defenders Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper and keeper Alyssa Naeher.

France is no pushover and although the U.S. has a 17-2-3 record against them all-time, the record is 4-2-2 since the 2012 Olympic Games were concluded. The U.S. hasn’t beaten the French since 2016 – a 1-0 win at the Rio Games – and lost, 3-0, in March 2017 and the sides drew, 1-1, last season, with Pugh the American goal scorer.

The last U.S. appearance in France was a 2-0 loss in 2015 in Lorient.

However, the U.S. is a sparkling 25-0-3 in its last 28 games over the last year and a half, outscoring its opponents by 93-17 over that stretch. Morgan, especially, has been on fire with 25 goals in her last 26 games for the national team, and now has 98 goals in her international career. She will become the seventh American woman to score 100 goals for her country when she tallies two more.

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