USWNT’s Williams and Sonnett return for New Zealand friendlies: How travel could prepare USA for World Cup

On Thursday, the head coach of the US women’s national team, Vlatko Andonovski, announced the list of 24 players who will visit New Zealand next week. The senior team will hold a six-day camp before two friendlies against New Zealand in Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara and Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Defender Emily Sonnett and forward Lynn Williams have recovered from injuries. Sonnett took part in last summer’s World Cup qualifiers, but Williams has missed most of 2022 with a serious injury.
  • Sophia Smith, the NWSL MVP and championship winner with the Portland Thorns, is out with a foot injury. Megan Rapinoe is also missing from this list with an ankle injury.
  • Andonovski is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. Thursday and could provide more details on the schedule for Smith and Rapinoe, as well as the number of other players who are recovering from various injuries.


The 24-man roster holds no surprises as the team begins to work on reintegrating players returning from injury. Although Adrianna Franch regained her spot on the roster after a stellar 2022 NWSL season, three options remain with her, Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage) and Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars).

No defender has been dropped from the final 2022 squad for the two friendlies against Germany; only the Sonnett was added. Alana Cook (OL Reign), Emily Fox (Racing Louisville FC), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave FC), Sofia Huerta (Reign), Hailie Mace (Current) and Becky Sauerbrunn (Thorns) All He returned to New Zealand.

There are no changes in the midfield either. Sam Coffey (Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Lions), Taylor Kornieck (Wave), Rose Lavelle (Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit) and Andi Sullivan (Spirit) above. once again.

Midge Purce returns to the attacking line-up for the first time since last September’s friendlies and Williams also returns to the squad. Mallory Pugh changed her name after marrying Chicago Cubs shortstop Dansby Swanson and will begin 2023 on the court as Mallory Swanson. Ashley Hatch (Spirit), Alex Morgan (Wave) and Trinity Rodman (Spirit) also return for 2023.


The Ferns are a familiar fixture for the USWNT, but the USA have never played in New Zealand before. The two friendlies will also be played at the two stadiums where the team will play this summer’s World Cup group stage games, giving them a chance to replicate tournament conditions (although they won’t be able to replicate the weather as New Zealand will have winter during the season). tournament).

After a six-day training camp, they will travel to Wellington/Te Whanganui-a-Tara for their first friendly on January 18 at 16:00 local time (January 17 at 22:00 ET). Sky Stadium. The two teams will meet again on January 21 at 4pm local time (January 20, 8pm ET) at Eden Park in Auckland/Tamaki Makaurau – the first time the Ferns have played at their home stadium.

Both matches will be shown on HBO Max as part of US Soccer’s new media rights deal.

What they say

Andonovski said in a statement: “We’ve been thinking and planning about the World Cup for a long time, but when the calendar turns to a World Cup year, with the tournament starting in less time, it’s sure to bring new focus and energy. 200 days. There are many benefits to bringing the team to New Zealand in January and playing at our World Cup venues, so we will make sure we maximize our time together, make this trip as productive as possible and have a unique experience. our players have never been to New Zealand before.

Midfielder Sam Coffey: “For us, especially as young players, (the next World Cup) is an incredibly big thing – at best – it seems far away, so to have some familiarity I think will serve us well.

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(Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today)

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