FIH Pro League Scouting Report: USWNT vs. Belgium

April 08, 2019, 10:22 a.m. (ET)

In anticipation of the U.S. Women's National Team's upcoming FIH Pro League match, here is a scouting report you’ll want to review before the starting whistle.

Game Day: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Time: 12:30 p.m. ET

Location: Brussels, Belgium

Live StreamDon't miss a second of the FIH Pro League action and watch the USWNT take on Belgium this Wednesday afternoon. The FIH has signed a four-year media rights agreement with Bleacher Report Live for the territories of Canada and the United States. Bleacher Report Live is operated by Turner Sports, a division of WarnerMedia. The platform, which is Turner’s live sports streaming service, will be the primary destination for all fans to watch FIH Pro League matches.

FIH Pro League single games are available paid per view for $2.99 per match or $19.99 for the FIH Pro League 2019 Season Pass (all matches)Click here for the FIH Pro League live stream landing page.

Opponent: Belgium

FIH World Ranking: 13

Head to Head: Nearly two weeks since their thrilling finish at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa., these two teams are ready for round two in their FIH Pro League matchups. In front of the home crowd on March 29, the red, white and blue went nine rounds in a shootout against the Red Panthers. The nail biting finish was set up by an early goal by Belgium’s Alix Gerniers in the 5th minute. Momentum swung back and forth into the second half before Danielle Grega deflected a cross by Caitlin Van Sickle into the goal to tie the game 1-1. Heading into the shootout, USA was up 2-1 after three rounds, but Belgium was able to tie on their final attempt to force sudden victory. After successfully scoring in the next round, both teams failed to convert their next two tries. In round nine, Linnea Gonzales hit a backhand shot into the goal to give USA their first victory of the FIH Pro League, earning an extra point in the 5-4 shootout.

Prior to FIH Pro League, the two squads met in November 2018 on the same turf in Lancaster, with the Red Panthers prevailing in two matches. In the first game the Red Panthers pressed early, eventually paying off with a 1-0 advantage at the end of the first quarter. USA was just as fierce offensively but ultimately could not capitalize on their chances like their counter parts falling 0-2. In the second match, tied 2-2 entering the final frame, USA pulled ahead late in the contest when Kathleen Sharkey scored off a rebound off Belgium's goalkeeper Elodie Picard’s pads, giving USA the 3-2 victory. In the final game, after being down 1-0 in the second half, Belgium responded with four unanswered goals to win the series by a final of 4-1.

 

Before their November match-up in the winter elements of Lancaster, Pa., it had been over six years since these two teams met in the 11th/12th place game of the London 2012 Olympic Games. In a similar meeting, USA struck first before Belgium pulled ahead for a 2-1 win.

 



Head to Head
(since 2013)





4 Previous Matches
0 Draws

 

2

Won

2

5

Total Goals

9


What You Need to Know: At the time of writing, Belgium was the lowest ranked of all the teams competing in the inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League. However, do not let that fool you into thinking that all other nations will be looking at the Red Panthers as an easy opponent. Belgium has been on an impressive rise in recent years and, following the men’s stunning victory at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, the talented women’s team will be determined to show the world just how competitive they have become. A tenth place finish at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 contained some fine performances including a 6-3 thrashing of Japan as well as draws against eventual semifinalists Australia and Spain, although the meeting against the latter ended in an agonizing shootout defeat.

Ten members of the initial FIH Pro League squad selected by Head Coach Niels Thijssen have surpassed the 100 international appearances marker, four of which have all played more than 200 times for the Red Panthers. Team captain Anouk Raes, Emilie Sinia, Barbara Nelen and Jill Boon – sister of Red Lions’ World Cup winning forward Tom Boon – having all represented their country more than 200 times. On their day, the European silver medalists from 2017 will be a match for anyone.

Recap of Belgium’s Last Game: Belgium women continued their sparkling form in the FIH Pro League with yet another victory over higher-ranked opposition, powering to a 4-1 win against China as the Royal Uccle Sports Complex in Brussels played host to the Red Panthers’ first home match in the competition.

An enthused crowd watched with joy as Alix Gerniers hit a hat-trick to ensure that Belgium marked their FIH Pro League home debut in winning fashion. It was Belgium's third victory in five matches - four of which have been on the road - for the team coached by Niels Thijssen, as the ever-improving Europeans moved ahead of Australia and into third in the standings. Belgium have claimed 66.67 percent of the points available in their five matches played to date, with defeat for China leaving them second from bottom of the standings with 25.93 percent.

Despite being the lowest ranked team in the competition, No. 13 Belgium have already provided plenty of evidence in this inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League that they are force to be reckoned with. Following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Argentina in Cordoba in their opening fixture, the Red Panthers snatched wins in both New Zealand (1-0) and Australia (2-1) in February before recently suffering a slight set-back in their narrow shootout defeat against USA in Lancaster.

Belgium’s match day opponents No. 10 China have proven to be stubborn opponents in all of their eight FIH Pro League matches leading up to today's fixture, with notable home wins over Germany (2-1) and New Zealand (1-0) being coupled with two strong showings against current league leaders Argentina, with Las Leonas winning 1-0 both home and away.

T
he host nation found themselves under pressure in the early stages of their FIH Pro League home debut, but soon found their rhythm and created the better of the chances in the first quarter. Ye Jiao, China’s world class goalkeeper, made excellent reaction saves to deny efforts from Emma Puvrez, Ambre Ballenghien and Emilie Sinia, while a Gu Bingfeng penalty corner drag-flick was expertly charged down by the Belgium defense.

China’s resistance was eventually broken in the 22nd minute by Alix Gerniers, who crashed a backhand strike through the legs of Ye a moment after the lively Ballenghien rattled the frame of the goal with a penalty corner deflection. Whilst it was a lead that Belgium unquestionably deserved, the Red Panthers were perhaps a little fortunate to maintain their slender advantage going into half time. Peng Yang had the best chance in the latter stages of the second quarter, almost restoring parity with a clever diving deflection that travelled the wrong side of Belgium goalkeeper Aisling D’Hooghe’s left post.

China fought hard in the final quarter and reduced the deficit thanks to a smart backhand finish from Liang Meiyu, but it proved only a consolation as the Red Panthers continue to prove their quality at the highest possible level.

Belgium's Roster: Click Here