The Westfield Matildas are heading towards an exciting period following the announcement of Ante Milicic’s 23-player squad to take on the USA.
Milicic and his squad will take on the world’s number one ranked nation at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on April 5 (AEDT) in a key pre-FIFA Women’s World Cup hitout.
It looms as an important match for players to press their claims for a spot on the plane to France for the highly-anticipated tournament in June.
Who will be hoping to make their mark, and what can we expect as Milicic’s squad looks to build on their Cup of Nations success.
Fresh faces and returning stars looking to impress
Milicic has been open from the outset that he wants to see as many players as possible in action ahead of the final squad selection for France.
True to his word, he has added some new blood to the squad that triumphed in the recent Cup of Nations, including two debutants.
Young defender Elizabeth Ralston has been rewarded for her consistent form with Champions Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League, while UCLA goalkeeper Teagan Micah also gets a chance.
Throw in teenager Mary Fowler, who made three appearances for the Westfield Matildas last year, and there’s an exciting, fresh feel to the squad.
As well as that trio, experienced pair Katrina Gorry and Chloe Logarzo are back after missing the Cup of Nations through injury.
The way Australia performed in that tournament without the duo – who have been regulars over the last couple of years – shows the depth and plethora of options at Milicic’s disposal.
A squad reaching the peak of its powers
When the Westfield Matildas created history four years ago by winning their first knockout match at a FIFA Women’s World Cup, it was very much a young squad with many players new onto the international scene.
But four years on, while there is still some fresh blood in Milicic’s squad, the majority are now established at international level.
Fifteen of the squad have played at least 30 times for the Westfield Matildas, with the likes of Ellie Carpenter (30 games), Hayley Raso (33) and Chloe Logarzo (37) now seasoned in the Green and Gold.
While he will not be afraid to give youngsters a chance, it will be of some comfort for Milicic to know he has a stack of players who know how to deal with big games and the pressure of a major tournament.
To have the likes of Lisa De Vanna (146 caps), Clare Polkinghorne (115) and Elise Kellond-Knight (105) to go alongside the attacking threat of Sam Kerr (75), Caitlin Foord (70) and Emily van Egmond (84) is sure to help the fresh faces cope with what lies ahead.
Chance to land a psychological blow?
The USA are the defending FIFA Women’s World Cup champions and will head to France as the team to beat.
But the Westfield Matildas have enjoyed recent success against the might of the United States.
The 1-0 win at the Tournament of Nations in 2017 was Australia’s first-ever triumph over the USA in 28 attempts, and only a last-minute goal by US midfielder Lindsey Horan denied the team another victory last year.
The results are an indication of just how far the Westfield Matildas have come over the last few years and they will relish the chance to face them again.
And if they can get another positive result in Colorado, it might just give Australia a mental edge if they were to meet again at June’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.