The United States women’s national team faces England on Friday in a friendly designed to seriously test Vlatko Andonovski’s side before next year’s World Cup. England won the EUROs in July, securing their first major tournament success and confirming their development on the international stage. The U.S., meanwhile, defeated Canada to continue its dominance of the Concacaf W Championship and maintain its No. 1 place in FIFA’s rankings.
Arguably, these are the two best teams in international women’s soccer right now. But if we were to analyze them player-for-player, which is the strongest?
Editor’s note: There are various injuries affecting lineups for Friday’s game, so we’re comparing most recent, regular starting XIs.
Goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher v Mary Earps
Earps was superb for England in their EURO win, highlighting why Sarina Wiegman chose her as first-choice goalkeeper over Ellie Roebuck, with a string of important reflex saves in the knockout round victories over Spain and Sweden. Naeher has a fight on her hands with Casey Murphy for her No. 1 spot at the national team level, but her performances for the Chicago Red Stars are enough to suggest she remains one of the world’s best shot-stoppers.
Verdict: United States
Right fullback: Sofia Huerta v Lucy Bronze
Huerta has enjoyed a tremendous campaign for OL Reign, providing exceptional deliveries into the penalty box from the right-hand side. Having nailed down fullback as her best position, there is a case to be made that she has been her club’s most important player. Bronze, however, is a more experienced campaigner, widely regarded as the very best in the position. A dynamic, powerful runner, she is strong in 1-v-1s offensively and recovers quickly to help her team defend.
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