[USA-CANADA] The USA and Canada renew one of the fiercest rivalries in women's soccer as they meet Friday at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, to open the 2014 season (live on Fox Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET).
The last two meetings saw the USA beat Canada, 4-3, in an epic overtime match in the semifinals of the 2012 London Olympics and win, 3-0, before a sellout crowd last summer in Toronto, where fans booed Canadian-AmericanSydney Leroux after she scored a late goal and showed off the crest of her U.S. jersey to fans.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING.Leroux, a former Canada youth international, on facing Canada: “We’re super excited. For me, it’s a little different, our first game in 2014 is against Canada and is in the United States, which is awesome. It’s obviously emotional for me, but in a good way. ... I love to play them, and especially what happened there, and now the fact that we get to play them on our turf is like really, really cool.” (AP)
The USA heads into the new year with a 39-game unbeaten streak. (Its record is 51 games.) In the first of a three-game homestand, Tom Sermanni will field a close to full-strength squad. The only players missing are Alex Morgan, who scored two goals in Toronto, and Tobin Heath, both recovering from injuries.
Abby Wambach, the world's all-time leading scorer, heads into 2014 with 163 career goals, while Canadian starChristine Sinclairis the third all-time leading international scorer -- and second among active players -- with 147 career goals.
Wambach and Sinclair are among the 31 players on the two squads who are currently on NWSL rosters.
The two teams also have a strong college influence as four U.S. players -- UCLA midfielder Sam Mewis, who joins older sister Kristie on the U.S. team, Virginia's Morgan Brian, the Soccer America Player of the Year, Crystal Dunn (North Carolina) and Julie Johnston (Santa Clara) -- and two Canadians -- SA All-Freshman pick Kadeisha Buchanan (West Virginia) and Jonelle Filigno (Rutgers) -- played college ball in 2013. Dunn, Julie Johnston and Filigno will play in the NWSL in 2014,
GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), 21-Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), 1-Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9):14-Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), 7-Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), 6-Whitney Engen (Tyresö), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 19-Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), 5-Kelley O'Hara (Sky Blue FC), 3-Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), 16-Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 25-Morgan Brian (Univ. of Virginia), 12-Lauren Holiday (FC Kansas City), 22-Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), 10-Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), 28-Samantha Mewis (UCLA), 9-Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC), 17-Erika Tymrak (FC Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4):2-Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), 23-Christen Press (Tyresö), 8-Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), 20-Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Erin McLeod (Houston Dash), 21-Stephanie Labbe (KIF Orebro), 33-Karina LeBlanc (Chicago Red Stars)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Emily Zurrer (Jitex BK), 3-Sura Yekka (Brams United), 4-Carmelina Moscato (Seattle Reign FC), 7-Rhian Wilkinson (unattached), 10-Lauren Sesselmann (Houston Dash), 14-Kadeisha Buchanan (West Virginia Univ.), 20-Marie-Éve Nault (KIF Orebro)
MIDFIELDERS (4):6-Kaylyn Kyle (Boston Breakers), 8-Diana Matheson (Washington Spirit), 11-Desiree Scott (FC Kansas City), 13-Sophie Schmidt (Sky Blue FC)
FORWARDS (5): 9-Josée Belanger (unattached), 12-Christine Sinclair (Portland Thorns FC), 16-Jonelle Filigno (Sky Blue FC), 17-Brittany Baxter (unattached), 19-Adriana Leon (Chicago Red Stars).