RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – March 3, 2013 – The U.S. Women’s Team has played two friendly practice matches against Scotland and Chile since arriving in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the World League Round 2 tournament. Team USA faced Scotland on Saturday, March 2 and Chile on Sunday, March 3 in preparation for the tournament that kicks-off on Monday. Team USA topped Scotland 1-0 and played to a 1-1 draw against Chile.
“Our biggest focus in these test matches are coming together as a group and getting our feet wet,” said U.S. captain Lauren Crandall. “We weren’t necessarily focusing on our opponent but rather finding our rhythm and getting touches on the ball. We haven’t been a squad of 18 just yet so these matches are a good stepping stone and will allow us to get the kinks out so we can start the tournament strong.”
As the No. 10 ranked team in the world, the U.S. received an automatic entry into World League Round 2 and is considered the favorites here in Rio to advance. The top two teams from World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil will automatically move on to World League Round 3 and become one step closer to qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The six team round robin tournament features No. 18 Chile, No. 19 Scotland, No. 27 Trinidad & Tobago, No. 50 Uruguay and No. 55 Brazil. Team USA will face host nation Brazil in the opening match on March 4, followed by Uruguay, Scotland then Chile before closing out the tournament against Trinidad and Tobago on March 10.
“Scotland and Chile will be our two most difficult opponents,” said Crandall. “We’ve played Trinidad and Tobago before and they are always fast and strong. There are strengths in every team. We have also played Scotland in the past two Champions Challenges in Ireland and it is a team we have struggled against but we are well aware of their style of play. A big focus needs to be on our team coming together and discovering what is going to define the next four years for us.”
Crandall said she is excited for the tournament to begin and believes Team USA is ready to take on the challenge of being the top ranked team at the tournament.
“Not only do we have the No. 1 seed and everyone will be looking to top us, we have a new coaching staff and a younger squad, but we are ready to take on the challenge. I’m excited to see the new coaching staff, new players and new positions all come together on the field. This is the start to a new beginning for us.”