Team USA will give a World Cup progress check for Milicic and Matildas

Every time a member of the Matildas squad has been asked for their thoughts about facing the US women's team later this week, the answer is invariably the same.

Team USA is the benchmark by which other nations are judged in women's soccer, so for the players Ante Milicic has gathered together for the game in Denver, Colorado, on Friday, this game offers a real opportunity for a reality check about the Matildas' prospects in the upcoming World Cup.

The Australians are one of the nations expected to be in the fight for the title in France later this year, although they are not amongst the favourites.

The Matildas, Australia's women's soccer outfit.

The Matildas, Australia's women's soccer outfit.Credit:AAP

Ranked six in the world, they are behind Canada, England, France, Germany and the perennial leaders, the USA.


And that is why this game is so important not just for Milicic, who will get a far better idea of his players' capabilities when they try to take on the world's number one team in their own back yard, but for those peripheral players hoping to force their way into his squad for France.

The USA have rightly earned their reputation as the benchmark in the women's game.

Since the 1996 Olympics they have won the gold medal in women's soccer four times, their only two reverses coming in Sydney (when Norway pulled off an upset and beat it in the final) and in Rio, when they could finish only fifth after losing on penalties in the quarter final to Sweden.

Their record in the Women's World Cup is also hugely impressive.

Champions in the inaugural tournament in 1991, they also took the title on home soil in 1999 – a triumph widely credited with turbo charging the popularity of the women's game in the USA – and in Canada in 2015.

In contrast the best Australia have done at the Olympics is to make the quarter finals twice (in Athens 2004 and Rio 2016) and to reach the same stage three times in the Women's World Cup, which they did in 2007, 2011 and 2015, where it lost heartbreakingly to Japan after conceding an 87th minute goal in a 1-0 defeat.

However Australia can take plenty of heart from their performance the last time they met the world's number one.

Only a late close range header from Lindsey Horan in the 90th minute of the match cancelled out Chloe Logarzo's shot midway through the first half which had given the Matildas a 1-0 lead, the game finishing up in a 1-1 draw as a result.

United States' Lindsey Horan.

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