Not long now: There’s a light show under way at Wembley and Jill Scott has just placed the Euros trophy on a touchline plinth, to raucous applause from the a full house. Led by Riem Hussein and her team of match officials, the teams march out on to the Wembley sward. Cue: the national anthems.
England: Earps, Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Daly, Walsh, Stanway, Hemp, Kelly, Mead, Kirby.
Subs: Maciver, Roebuck Moran, Zelem, Wubben-Moy, Carter, Parris, Toone, Park, Stokes, James, Salmon.
USA: Naeher, Cook, Rodman, Huerta, Horan, Smith, Girma, Rapinoe, Lavelle, Sullivan, Fox.
Subs: Sanchez, Sauerbrunn, Mace, Hatch, Thompson, Coffey, Murphy, Dunn, Howell, Kingsbury, Mewis, DeMelo.
England boss Sarina Wiegman makes five changes to the team that walloped Luxembourg 10-0 last time out. Chloe Kelly – scorer of the Euros winner at Wembley in July – returns to the team and Fran Kirby also comes in, alongside Millie Bright, who wears the captain’s armband in the absence of the injured Leah Williamson. Lauren Hemp and Mary Earps also return to the side.
The 18th November marks the 50th anniversary of the England senior women’s team. England beat Scotland 3-2 in Greenock on that day in 1972 and tonight’s international at Wembley will be dedicated to the anniversary.
Nearly 150 former and current England women’s internationals are expected to attend the fixture as guests of the FA, and 20 former players joined the current team at the Lensbury Resort on Tuesday to meet the players and watch them train. Ahead of kick-off this evening, 12 members of that first ever 1972 team will receive a bespoke England cap on the evening as part of a special presentation led by Jill Scott, among other VIPs.
On what promises to be a busy evening for Scott, who is supposed to be enjoying her retirement, the former England international will later be honored pitch side with the presentation of a framed shirt, before she brings the Euro 2020 trophy she helped win out pitchside to help gee up the capacity crowd up before kick-off.
Here’s hoping Sunderland’s finest manages to get through all those pre-match duties without any of that potty-mouthed effing and jeffing that went a long way towards earning her National Treasure status during the Euros final against Germany.
The Yates report: The United States captain, Becky Sauerbrunn, has demanded root and branch reform of elite domestic soccer in North America after an independent investigation found that emotional abuse and sexual misconduct had become systemic throughout the National Women’s Soccer League. Louise Taylor reports.
Join host Faye Carruthers and Guardian football writer, Suzanne Wrack, as they invite guests from across the world of women’s football to guide you through the 2022/23 Women’s Super League season.
Whether you were watching the first WSL games 12 years ago or just fell in love with the Lionesses this summer, Women’s Football Weekly will be on hand with reaction and analysis throughout the year so sign up in all the usual pod places.
More on the Yates report: “None of the stories from the Yates investigation, which include reports of coaches sexually assaulting their players, were shocking to me or my peers; silence must not prevail,” writes football coach Candice Fabry, the founder of Fearless & Capable, a female led mentorship program for women working in sport.
“Sarina Wiegman’s side now have the same winning mentality as the USWNT” writes Anita Asante, the Bristol City first team coach and former England international in our weekly women’s football newsletter. “The match at Wembley will be fascinating,” she concludes.
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How: Megan Rapinoe suggests a major gulf in quality between the USA and other international heavyweights no longer exists in women’s football but it is up to England and others to prove this at a World Cup, writes Suzanne Wrack.
Alex Morgan is the most conspicuous absentee from a 24-woman squad named by Vlatko Andonvski for the USA’s friendlies against England and Spain that features big names such as Megan Rapinoe, Becky Sauerbaum, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan.
The San Diego Wave striker, who enraged no end of humorless England fans with her tea-sipping goal celebration during the World Cup semi-finals has been ruled out with a knee injury.
Still in high school, where she plays on a boys’ team (or the boys play on her team), Alyssa Thompson, 17, could make her debut in Morgan’s absence. With over 120 caps to her name already, Portland Thorns defender Crystal Dunn gets her first international call-up since giving birth to a son, Marcel, in May.
Video: Megan Rapinoe and her team-mates are “exhausted” after the release of the Sally Yates report into emotional and sexual abuse in the NWSL, but she added that the US women’s national team are used to shouldering off-field burdens. “We’re angry and exhausted and together, and unified,” she said. “So it’s kind of all of it.”
Since triumphing at the Euros, England have lost Lionesses legends Jill Scott and Ellen White to retirement and also have a number of absences through injury with which to contend.
Captain Leah Williamson picked up an injury in training this week that has ruled out the Arsenal defender, while West Ham defender Lucy Parker and Manchester United striker Alessia Russo are also sidelined.
In the absence of Williamson, Millie Bright will wear the captain’s armband, while Nikita Parris and Lotte Wubben-Moy have been called up to Sarina Wiegman’s squad as cover.
Following a sensational summer in which they won the European Championships, England host the World Champions tonight at Wembley Stadium. A friendly this may be, but it is the fastest England sell-out – men’s or women’s – in New Wembley’s history. With both sides unbeaten in this calendar year no quarter is expected to be asked for or given once the game kicks off, not least with the World Cup slated to take place in Australia and New Zealand next summer.
However, rivalry will be briefly set aside as both sets of players have planned a pre-match show of solidarity and togetherness following the publication of the independent Sally Yates report earlier this week, which detailed widespread abuse and sexual misconduct perpetrated by coaches in the National Women’s Soccer League. The report also found that teams, the NWSL and US Soccer failed to put basic safeguards in place for players. Both sets of players will wear teal armbands tonight to show solidarity with sexual abuse victims.
On an evening that should and almost certainly will be a celebration of the popularity of the women’s game in both the USA and UK, it is imperative that we don’t attempt to gloss over the harrowing verdict handed down by Yates, the former acting US Attorney General. Kick-off at Wembley tonight is at 8pm (BST) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news, more on the thoroughly depressing Yates report and match build-up.