After beginning its World Cup victory tour in style, the United States Women’s soccer team will be going for another big win against Costa Rica in Chattanooga, Tennessee, on Wednesday. In its first match since beating Japan to lift the country’s first World Cup title in 16 years in Vancouver last month, the U.S. celebrated in front of a sell-out crowd in Pittsburgh with a dominant 8-0 win over an overmatched Costa Rica side.
The team will hope to continue that atmosphere on Wednesday in what will be the second of 10 matches this fall. Tougher tests can certainly be expected when taking on two teams that reached the knockout stage of the 2015 World Cup, Brazil and Australia over the next two months. Against Costa Rica, the U.S. has now won all 11 of its matches and done so by an aggregate score of 59-0.
Yet, as well as a chance for fans across the United States to see at close quarters a team that thrilled the nation during the World Cup, it is also preparation for Olympic qualifying next February. And for several players it presents an opportunity to ensure they are firmly in coach Jill Ellis’ mind heading toward Rio de Janeiro and the quest to help the U.S. to a fourth straight gold medal.
On Sunday, Christen Press and Heather O’Reilly certainly did their reputations no harm. Press, 26, failed to feature in either the semifinal or final in Canada, but showed her ability with a hat-trick in Pittsburgh. O’Reilly’s minutes were even more limited in the World Cup, making just a solitary cameo appearance off the bench. But she opened the scoring against Costa Rica on Sunday and added another in the second half as the U.S. began to run riot in front of 44,000 fans at Heinz Field.
“As the games progress I think it will be more and more Olympic oriented,” Press said after the win, according to ESPN. “Right now, especially the first two games, we're just here to celebrate. We're happy to be back together. There was a smile on everyone's faces. We had one practice, a quick meeting and here we are playing in front of 44,000 people.”
One player that won’t have to worry about her future selection is Lori Chalupny. The 31-year-old midfielder announced after the opening match with Costa Rica that she would be retiring from international soccer after the 10-match fall tour.
“It’s been an amazing year,” she said, reports the U.S. Soccer website. “Winning a World Cup is any soccer player’s biggest dream and I feel very fortunate to have had these experiences. That said, there is no better way to go out than as a world champion and this just seemed like the right time to put a cap on my international career. It’s been an emotional journey back to the National Team, and I’m really thankful to U.S. Soccer, to Jill, to the staff and to my teammates for making this year such a memorable one.”
Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. EDT
TV channel: ESPN2
Live stream: Watch ESPN