Matildas to play world champions USA in another two-match series on home soil

The world No 1-ranked USA will play in Australia for the first time in 21 years in a two-match mini-series against the Matildas at the end of the month.

Sydney’s Stadium Australia and McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle will host matches on 27 November and 30 November respectively, Football Australia announced on Thursday, giving Tony Gustavsson’s side another chance to prove their credentials against the two-time defending world champions.

The two nations enjoy a long-standing rivalry and last met as recently as the Tokyo Olympic Games in August, when the US won 4-3 in the bronze medal match.

The upcoming matches continue a push from FA to line up the best teams in the world with preparations for next year’s Asian Cup ramping up and with the 2023 World Cup on home soil looming.

Gustavsson, who spent five years as assistant coach of the US, acknowledged the quality of the four-time World Cup winners and four-time Olympic champions, and said meeting his former team would provide his current players with another great challenge.

“This is a vital and final opportunity to see the players against an extremely high-quality nation before we select the final squad for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup,” Gustavsson said.

“Meeting the US women’s national team on home soil will mark the sixth unique opponent in the top 10 that this team would have faced in 2021. With each match, we are continuing to get one day better as a team, and at the same time providing invaluable experience to the younger players in the roster.”

The two games at CommBank Stadium drew crowds of 15,000 and 12,000 and, with restrictions further easing in New South Wales and stadium capacity limits lifted, FA is pushing to surpass the record of 33,000 for a Matildas game in Australia – set during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney – later this month.

FA chief executive James Johnson said the interest in the Brazil series – which also rated well on TV – demonstrated the Matildas’ box office appeal.

“It was a privilege to welcome back fans to international matches and we are now delighted to welcome one of the world’s best and most admired teams, as we continue to implement our strategy of playing more teams ranked in the top 10 in preparation for upcoming major international tournaments,” he said.

The Matildas have been drawn alongside Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand in Group B of next year’s Asian Cup, which takes place in India from 20 January to 6 February.

“We can’t be more delighted with the support which has been provided in scheduling these tough, unique opponents to further the development of the playing squad ahead of major international tournaments,” Gustavsson said.