Matildas Out To Defend Tournament Of Nations Title, And Why You Need To Be Supporting Them
For the love of sport, you need to get behind this team.
What you need to know
- The Matildas will defend their Tournament of Nations title in July and August
- Hosted by U.S. Soccer, the tournament is a friendly competition played over three doubleheader clashes in Connecticut, Kansas and Illinois
- The Matildas' meteoric rise has put the Australian women's team on the world sporting map
The Matildas are on the rise.
Ranked sixth in the world, the Australian women's soccer team will be looking to cement their place as a sporting powerhouse when they set out to defend their Tournament of Nations title in July and August in the U.S.
The schedule for the tournament was released on Friday, and provides some mouth-watering clashes for the Aussie women.
First up on July 26 is Brazil -- and they will be out for revenge. The Brazilian team toured Australia last year, and it didn't go too well for the visitors. After two shock defeats, tensions were left frayed by the final whistle, when players from the Brazilian side walked off without a handshake (but a few shoves) for the Australians.
Next the Aussies will face the U.S. on July 29 -- the No. 1 team in the world. This will be a good test for the Australian side. Taking on the current World Champions will be perfect preparation for next year's World Cup.
The final match on August 2 will be against Japan -- and this time it'll be the Aussies' chance at revenge. Just last month, the Matildas went down in a hard-fought final against Japan in the AFC Asian Cup after a brilliant campaign.
Placing second allowed the Matildas to qualify for the World Cup, but not getting their hands on the trophy hurt, and the Aussies will be looking to ease some of that pain with a win over their Confederation rivals.
What is the Tournament Of Nations?
Hosted by U.S. Soccer, the tournament is a friendly competition played over three doubleheader clashes in Connecticut, Kansas and Illinois.
The inaugural tournament held in the U.S. last year attracted more than 90,000 spectators.
Played in a round-robin format, the teams will compete against each other once, with the team with the highest number of points (three for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss) taking out the title.
Should two teams end up on the same number of points, the higher FIFA-ranked team will prevail.
Why Is It Important?
Last year's win for the Matildas kicked off a meteoric rise to heavyweight contenders in every competition in which they played.
The three wins during the tournament (including a first-ever win against the U.S. after 27 attempts) kicked off a nine-game unbeaten streak for the team, and catapulted them to a best-ever fourth rank in the world.
The Socceroos may be taking all the headlines with the upcoming World Cup just weeks away, but it is the Matildas who are changing the Australian soccer landscape.
During last year's series with Brazil, more than 31,000 people attended the two games in Penrith and Newcastle. Penrith's match was a sell-out, and is the second highest attendance ever for a women's sporting event in Australia, beaten only by the Opals gold-medal match against the U.S. at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
Aussie Sam Kerr has become a household name, tearing up the midfield and earning herself a nomination for the BBC's Women's Footballer of the Year. Ten players from the Matildas play in the National Women’s Soccer League in the U.S. -- one of the premier leagues in the world.