U.S. Soccer to host 7th annual SheBelieves Cup in February 2022
CHICAGO – U.S. Soccer will host the seventh annual SheBelieves Cup from Feb. 17-23 as the Czech Republic, Iceland and New Zealand join the USA for the four-team international tournament.
The USA will welcome two of Europe’s top up-and-coming sides to the 2022 SheBelieves Cup along with the Football Ferns, the co-host of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. Due to its automatic berth to the World Cup, New Zealand will be putting extra value on its international matches to prepare for the largest women’s sporting event in the world that will run from July 20-Aug. 6, 2023, in four cities in New Zealand and five in Australia. For the first time, the tournament will feature 32 countries.
While the entirety of last year’s SheBelieves Cup was held at one stadium in Orlando, Fla., this year’s tournament will be staged in two cities and two stadiums with the strict COVID protocols still in place during the organization of the event. The first two doubleheaders will take place at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif., while the final doubleheader will move to Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.
“These will be the first matches of what will be a really important year, and as focus on World Cup qualifying, the SheBelieves Cup will be extremely valuable for the continued development of the team,” said U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Vlatko Andonovski. “As a coaching staff, when we are integrating newer players, we need as many games as possible, and all three of our opponents are very hard to play against. They will all be highly motivated to have the chance to play in this great tournament, so we’re not only looking forward to competitive matches, but also playing in front of fans, as there was only limited attendance at last year’s tournament in Florida.”
The competition format will be the same as for the previous six years with the teams each participating in three doubleheader events. The winner of the tournament will be determined by total points (three for a win, one for a tie), with the first tiebreaker being overall goal difference, followed by most total goals scored, then head-to-head result and lastly, Fair Play ranking if necessary.
SIX GAMES, TWO STADIUMS
The 2022 SheBelieves Cup kicks off on Thursday, Feb. 17 at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Calif. as Iceland takes on New Zealand (5 p.m. PT) and the USA faces the Czech Republic (8 p.m. PT on ESPN). The tournament resumes on Sunday, Feb. 20, also at DHSP, with the USA playing the first match of the day, against New Zealand (Noon PT on ABC), while the Czech Republic will face Iceland (3 p.m. PT) in the second match of the day. The tournament concludes on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, with New Zealand taking on the Czech Republic (5 p.m. CT) and the USA facing Iceland in the nightcap (8 p.m. CT on ESPN). Broadcast information for the matches not involving the USA will be available at a later date. This year’s tournament also marks the first time the SheBelieves Cup has had matches contested on the West Coast.
2022 SHEBELIEVES CUP
ALL EYES ON ‘23
This year’s SheBelieves Cup will serve as valuable preparation for the world’s top ranked U.S. Women’s National Team as it begins a year in which it will attempt to qualify for both the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and the 2024 Olympic Games in France. The eight-team Concacaf W Championship will run from July 9-24 and will produce four direct qualifiers for Australia/New Zealand ‘23 and one automatic qualifier to the next Olympic Games.
The Czech Republic (ranked 24th in the world) and Iceland (ranked 16th) are currently deep into their World Cup journeys and are both in Group C in UEFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying. Iceland currently sits in second place behind the Netherlands with nine points from four matches while the Czech Republic is in third with five points from four matches. Iceland beat the Czechs 4-0 last October in Reykjavik, but the countries will meet again on April 11, 2022, in the Czech Republic in what will be a crucial match for both teams’ World Cup dreams. The winners of Europe’s nine World Cup qualifying groups earn berths directly to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 while the second-place finishers earn a berth to the playoffs.
Along with 2023 co-host Australia, New Zealand is an automatic qualifier for the World Cup, which will mark the fifth consecutive World Cup appearance for the Kiwis.
In a sign of the rising tide of women’s soccer in Europe, the Czech Republic has drawn with the fifth-ranked Netherlands twice in Group C and in both matches the Dutch had to come back to equalize late, once in the 83rd minute to draw 1-1 in Groningen and once in the third minute of second-half stoppage time to draw 2-2 in Ostrava.
Iceland’s only loss in the World Cup qualifying group thus far was to Netherlands by a 2-0 score, but Iceland beat 13th-ranked Japan 2-0 in November of 2021.
While New Zealand struggled in the Olympics, it’s most recent match was a 2-0 victory over the Korea Republic, which is ranked five places higher in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings than the Football Ferns. New Zealand’s head coach is former U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team head coach Jitka Klimkova.
The USA finished the year with a 3-0 victory over Australia in front of 36,109 fans in Sydney and followed that up with a 1-1 draw in Newcastle in front of 20,495 fans as the Matildas equalized with just minutes remaining on a wicked deflection.
SHEBELIEVES CUP HISTORY
The six-game tournament was first played in 2016. The USA won the inaugural edition and France took top honors in 2017. The USA won again in 2018, England finished first in 2019, but the USA returned to the top of the podium in 2020, the first title for Andonovski, and won again in 2021.
- The USA’s meeting with the Czech Republic will mark just the second ever between the teams and first in the USA. Back in 2000, the USA defeated the Czech’s 8-1 in Australia at a tournament in January of that year.
- The USA did play the former Czechoslovakia once, that coming in a 0-0 tie in 1988, a draw that makes Czechoslovakia the only (granted, former) country on earth that does not have an overall losing record against the USWNT.
- The USA has played Iceland 14 times, the five most recent meetings coming over the years at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. The teams haven’t met since a brutally physical 0-0 tie in 2015 during Algarve Cup group play.
- The last time the USA played Iceland in the United States was Oct. 8, 2006, a 2-1 win in Richmond, Va., a game in which Abby Wambach scored a dramatic stoppage time game-winner after Iceland had tied the game at 1-1 in the 89th minute.
- The USA and Iceland played an epic match for the 2011 Algarve Cup championship. Carli Lloyd scored early to boost the USA to a 1-0 lead, but Iceland scored twice in three minutes midway through the first half before Lauren Cheney (now Holiday) equalized seconds before the halftime whistle. The USA then scored twice in the second half, via Heather O’Reilly in the 66th and Alex Morgan in the 87th to clinch what was the USA’s eighth of 10 Algarve Cup titles.
- The USA has played New Zealand 18 times, most recently a 6-1 victory on July 24 in group play at the 2020 Olympics in Japan. The USA got goals from Rose Lavelle, Lindsey Horan, Christen Press, Alex Morgan and two own goals.
- The USA’s two matches at the Dignity Health Sports Park will be 17th and 18th games the team has played at the venue, more than any other stadium in the United States. The USWNT is unbeaten and untied at the venue, going 16-0-0 since the first game played there in Sept. of 2003, a few months after it opened.
- The U.S. Women are also no stranger to Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, which is also home to the National Soccer Hall of Fame. This will be the USA’s 11th match at the home of Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas. Toyota Stadium was the venue for the USA’s final match before the global pandemic shut down sports all over the globe in March of 2020.
- Spurred by the success of the SheBelieves Cup, two four-team tournaments are now being held in Europe — in France and England — during this FIFA window.