Alen Stajcic announced his 20-player roster for the Australian women’s national team ahead of a pair of September friendlies against Brazil. Sky Blue FC forward Sam Kerr, having the best year of both her club and international careers, headlines the Matildas roster.
The 23-year-old Aussie recently turned heads by scoring her first hat trick in international competition during the United States women’s national team’s (USWNT) Tournament of Nations (ToN), leading Australia to a 4-2 win over Japan. She then scored a single in the team’s 6-1 win over Brazil that saw the Matildas crowned as champions of the inaugural summer tournament.
“Sam’s really had a breakout 12 months in the Westfield W-League and the NWSL,” Stajcic said of Kerr. “She’s matured as a player and a person, and the group couldn’t be prouder of her.
“Sam is one of many exciting players we have selected that are keen to make the most of this series in New South Wales as we continue to build towards next year’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup in Jordan, as well as the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 in France.”
In addition to Kerr, four other Aussies playing in the NWSL were named to the roster: the Orlando Pride’s Stephanie Catley and Alanna Kennedy, Portland Thorns’ Hayley Raso and the Houston Dash’s Lydia Williams. Kerr and Raso split back-to-bach NWSL Player of the Week honors for Australia, while Williams has not seen any playing time since ToN, where she picked up a quadriceps injury while in goal for the Matildas.
Also included on the roster are former Sky Blue FC players Lisa de Vanna, who scored her 42nd goal during ToN to take over as the Matilda’s leading scorer, and Caitlin Foord, currently playing with Vegalta Sendai in Japan.
“Our (Westfield Matildas) staff are in contact with the players daily and we have access to a lot of footage of the girls playing abroad, and it has been fantastic to see so many of our girls performing consistently at a high level,” Stajcic said in the team’s press release.
“There is a great buzz within this squad to come home and play and perform in front of large home crowds in Penrith and Newcastle. It will be a privilege to host Brazil, and the team can’t wait for the matches.”
Brazil’s head coach Emily Lima has also named her squad for the pair of friendlies, and Kerr will be squaring off against some familiar faces. The Orlando Pride’s Marta, Camila and Monica, the Dash’s Andressinha and Bruna Benites and the North Carolina Courage’s Debinha were all named to the roster for the South American soccer powerhouse. Houston defender Poliana was left off the roster, as she was for ToN.
The timing of the FIFA window, during which the pair of friendlies will be played, comes at an unfortunate time for the NWSL. The first match is on Saturday, September 16 in Penrith, Australia, and the second is three days later in Newcastle.
Although the NWSL is off a week in observance of the FIFA break, Orlando plays Portland on the 23rd, and Sky Blue plays the top-ranked Courage on the 24th. That’s a quick turnaround for the NWSL players from both international squads to play in Australia and travel back to the U.S. in time to compete.
North Carolina and Portland currently sit comfortably in playoff contention as the first- and second-ranked teams in the league, respectively, while Orlando and Sky Blue are still fighting for a playoff spot. Orlando currently sits in fourth, while Sky Blue trails them by three points in fifth. Both teams rely heavily on their internationals—Kerr has a flair for last-minute, game-changing heroics this year—and neither can afford to drop points just ahead of the finish line because of fatigued starters.
The USWNT is also hosting a pair of friendlies against New Zealand during the same FIFA window, which will likely affect every team in the league. Sky Blue’s Kelley O’Hara will most likely be named to the USWNT squad for those friendlies although head coach Jill Ellis has yet to announce her roster. O’Hara currently has 99 caps with the USWNT, and, if named to the September roster, could earn her 100th against the Football Ferns.
The full rosters for Australia’s and Brazil’s squads are below.
AUSTRALIA ROSTER BY POSITION
Goalkeepers (2): Lydia Williams (Melbourne City / Houston Dash), Mackenzie Arnold (Brisbane Roar)
Defenders (8): Steph Catley (Melbourne City/Orlando Pride), Ellie Carpenter (Canberra United), Clare Polkinghorne (Brisbane Roar), Alanna Kennedy (Orlando Pride), Caitlin Cooper (WS Wanderers), Gema Simon (Newcastle United/Avaldsnes IL), Laura Alleway (Melbourne Victory), Georgia Yeoman-Dale (Sydney FC)
Midfielders (5): Katrina Gorry (Brisbane Roar/Vegalta Sendai), Elise Kellond-Knight (Turbine Potsdam), Emily van Egmond (Wolfsburg), Chloe Logarzo (Newcastle Jets/Avaldsnes IL), Tameka Butt (Klepp)
Forwards (5): Lisa De Vanna (South Melbourne), Caitlin Foord (Sydney FC/Vegalta Sendai), Emily Gielnik (Brisbane Roar/Avaldsnes IL), Sam Kerr (Perth Glory/Sky Blue FC), Hayley Raso (Portland Thorns)
BRAZIL ROSTER BY POSITION
Goalkeepers (2): Letícia Izidoro (Corinthians/Audax), Dani Neuhaus (Santos FC)
Defenders (6): Rafaelle (Changchun Volkswagen Exc. Women‘s Club), Bruna Benites (Houston Dash), Mônica (Orlando Pride), Jucinara (Corinthians/Audax), Letícia Santos (Sportclub Sand), Maurine (Santos FC)
Midfielders (8): Fran (Avaldsnes Idrettslag), Andressinha (Houston Dash), Djenifer (Iranduba), Fabiana (FC Barcelona), Gabi Zanotti (Jiangsu Suning Ladies FC), Andressa Alves (FC Barcelona), Camila (Orlando Pride), Debinha (North Carolina Courage)
Forwards (4): Bia Zaneratto (Incheon Hyundai Steel Red Angels), Ludmila (Atlético de Madrid), Cristiane (Changchun Volkswagen Exc. Women‘s Club), Marta (Orlando Pride)