Training for the SheBelieves Cup is in full swing as the women of the U.S. Women’s National Team have begun practicing in Orlando before games begin next week.
Orlando Pride forward Alex Morgan and goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris will compete along with 24 other athletes for the United States, including 2017 U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year Julie Ertz.
The SheBelieves Cup marks the first tournament for the U.S. WNT this year and the toughest competition leading up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying in October. The Cup brings four of the top six women’s soccer team in the world to America, including No. 2 Germany, No. 3 England, No. 6 France and the top-ranked United States.
“I tell my players, outside of FIFA tournaments, this is the most prestigious and competitive tournament in the world for women,” U.S. WNT Head Coach Jill Ellis stated.
After the U.S. Men’s National Team finished fifth in qualification and failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the women are anxious to secure their spot.
“Unfortunately, we saw what happened with the men, we’re not taking it lightly,” Harris said. “Every team we face, we have to gain something out of it. I think this is going to prepare us for the big picture, and that’s [World Cup] qualification.”
The qualifying first mindset is well underway as the team began training Jan. 1 in Los Angeles and have carried that mentality with them to practice in Orlando, preparing and building daily in order to position themselves for the best outcome in 2019.
“We’re not looking past any of that,” Harris explained. “We have to qualify in order to get there in 2019. That starts here in Orlando. That started Jan. 1 with our training camp in L.A.”
The three teams represented in the Cup are teams that the United States will likely face in the World Cup and have faced in the past, having competed against all three in last year’s tournament, ultimately finishing in last place.
“Having come off a pretty poor performance last year, it is really important for us to showcase how much improvement we’ve made and obviously feel good going into qualifiers later this year,” Morgan shared.
The U.S. will have their first match of the tournament against Germany on March 1 at 7 pm ET in Columbus, Ohio. They will then travel to Harrison, New Jersey, to face France on March 4 at 12 pm ET and will finish the Cup at Orlando City Stadium with England on March 7 at 7 pm ET.
Tickets for all three doubleheaders are on sale through ussoccer.com and by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Orlando Pride and Orlando City season ticket members will also receive presale access.