Tournament of Nations: Fatigue factor doesn't daunt defending champion Australia

The USA hasn't lost in its last 17 women's international matches and will get a chance for revenge for its last defeat, when it meets Australia Sunday night in the Tournament of Nations in East Hartford, Conn.

The 1-0 loss to the Matildas -- the first U.S. defeat in 28 meetings -- came in last year's Tournament of Nations. Since then, the USA is 15-0-2 to remain No. 1 in the FIFA rankings, but Australia has become a team to be reckoned with.

The Matildas, ranked No. 8, also beat Japan, 4-2, and Brazil, 6-1, in the 2017 Tournament of Nations and they opened the 2018 tournament with a 3-1 win over Brazil.

Australia has 10 NWSL players, plus UCLA sophomore Teagan Micah, in its squad for the 2018 Tournament of Nations. The NWSL contingent includes 2017 league MVP Sam Kerr, who has since moved from Sky Blue FC to Chicago, and Portland defender Ellie Carpenter, at 18 the youngest player in NWSL history.

Australia has already qualified for the 2019 Women's World Cup, finishing second to Japan at the 2019 AFC Women's Cup. The loss to Japan was only the second in its 15 games. It was upset by host Portugal in the final of the 2018 Algarve Cup.

If Australia's form has dropped a little in 2018, it's because the Matildas have been playing year-round, competing in the W-League, which began last October, and NWSL in addition to representing Australia.

"We've come from the W-League to World Cup qualifiers, then straight into the NWSL season," said goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who plays for the Seattle Reign, told the Sydney Morning Herald. "Getting a result tomorrow, I think that will be a good indication that we can play a little bit under fatigue and keep our concentration up and know that we have the physical and mental capacity to do it."
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