USA-Netherlands: After 261-day layoff, USWNT is 'nowhere close to our best,' says Andonovski

The U.S. women's national team, which faces the Netherlands on Friday, has seven players who've been playing in Europe -- five in England and one each in France and Sweden -- and one player who completed the fall college season -- Florida State's Jaelin Howell -- but it's been a long time since most players have played.

For most players, their last games were in the NWSL Fall Series, which ended in October. But Julie Ertz hasn't played since the NWSL Challenge Cup in July, and Catarina Macario hasn't played since Stanford won the NCAA Division I title in December 2019.

“We know that we’re nowhere close to our best from the tactical perspective, nowhere close to our best in our physical preparation. Not even technical and mental preparation,” said U.S. coach Vlatko Andonovski on Wednesday. “Obviously we’ve been off for so many months, first game after a while. Some players haven’t touched the ball for almost a year and some players haven’t touched the ball for six months. We have literally only a few players that are 90 minutes ready.”

The USA will go up against one of Europe's top teams in a rematch of the 2019 Women's World Cup final.

“Everyone is just really excited to have an international match,” Andonovski added. “That it’s against the Netherlands makes it even better and more challenging. We had to get back on the field for a real game at some point, so it might as well be against one of the best teams in the world.”

Layoff. The USA will play for the first time in 261 days, the longest international layoff in three decades, since it went a 398-day stretch without a game that ended in July 1990 with a game against Norway that featured the first career goal from an 18-year-old Mia Hamm.

U.S. Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Aubrey Bledsoe (Washington Spirit; 0), Jane Campbell (Houston Dash; 3), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 63)
DEFENDERS (8): Alana Cook (Paris Saint-Germain, FRA; 1/0), Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 61/0), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 26/1), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns; 104/24), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals; 131/2), Margaret Purce (Sky Blue FC; 1/0), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns; 177/0), Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride; 45/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 102/20), Jaelin Howell (Florida State; 0/0), Rose Lavelle (Manchester City, ENG; 45/12), Catarina Macario (Stanford; 0/0), Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 15/1), Samantha Mewis (Manchester City, ENG; 67/18)
FORWARDS (6): Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit; 2/0), Tobin Heath (Manchester United, ENG; 168/33), Alex Morgan (Tottenham, ENG; 169/107), Christen Press (Manchester United, ENG; 138/58), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns; 0/0), Lynn Williams (NC Courage; 28/9).
Note: In parentheses are caps and goals.

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