Michelle Kaufman

Michelle Kaufman: SheBelieves Cup to bring more major international soccer to South Florida this winter

The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. national team will play Germany at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on March 9 in a doubleheader that also features France playing against England.
The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. national team will play Germany at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on March 9 in a doubleheader that also features France playing against England. TNS

South Florida’s jam-packed winter international soccer schedule just got even more exciting. The Women’s World Cup champion U.S. national team will play Germany at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on March 9 in a doubleheader that also features France playing against England.

The matches are part of a new four-team tournament called the SheBelieves Cup. The brainchild of the U.S. players, the SheBelieves movement is intended to inspire young girls to aspire to their goals and dreams. The Cup will take place March 3-9.

Team USA plays England in Tampa and France in Nashville before heading to Boca Raton for the Germany match.

The United States is No. 1 in the latest FIFA rankings, followed by Germany. France is third and England fifth. Germany and England advanced to semifinals of the Women’s World Cup. Germany defeated France in a quarterfinal penalty-kick shootout.

“When I took this job, one of my main objectives was to play the best teams in the world during our preparation periods, and you can’t ask for better matches,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis, who lives in Palmetto Bay. “This is another sign of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to the women’s game to organize a tournament like this, which will bring some of the world’s best teams and players to the USA. To get the chance to play these great teams on home soil is a treat for our fans and extremely valuable in the further evolution of our team. These are the kinds of games where you get tested all over the field and can really evaluate players and learn a lot about ourselves.”

By playing in this tournament, the United States will miss the Algarve Cup for the first time in 18 years.

The game against Germany will be the first for the United States since the Women’s World Cup semifinal, a 2-0 U.S. victory. The meeting with France will be the first since the 2015 Algarve Cup championship game, a 2-0 U.S. win. France beat the United States 2-0 earlier in 2015. The Americans beat England 1-0 last year.

Tickets for the SheBelieves Cup are on sale through ussoccer.com, at 1-800-745-3000 and through Ticketmaster.

▪ Florida Cup continues: The 10-game Florida Cup, an international exhibition tournament that includes teams from Germany, Brazil, Colombia and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, continues Sunday at FAU Stadium with a doubleheader.

The first game is a Brazilian matchup between Atletico Mineiro and Corinthians. In the other game, the Strikers face Independiente Santa Fe. Tickets range from $26 to $180.

The Strikers will also play friendlies at Lockhart Stadium against Corinthians on Jan. 23 and Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk on Jan. 26.

Fort Lauderdale opens its NASL season April 2 at Lockhart against new team Miami FC in what is hoped will become an intense local rivalry. They play again at FIU Stadium on Aug. 13.

▪ Osorio hints at Mexican roster: Mexican national coach Juan Carlos Osorio was in Miami on Monday promoting his team’s Feb. 10 friendly against Senegal at Marlins Park.

He said only players in Mexican leagues will be used for the game, which means Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez of Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, and other Mexican players in Spain and Portugal will not play.

“The last time we played, we had 13 players from the Mexican league,” Osorio said. “Now we will fill out the other 12 spots with young players who we have a lot of hope for. We are going to have a chance to get familiar with them.

“Mexico should be proud of the way our players are playing in Europe — not just [Chicharito], but the rest of our boys are having great campaigns. But this will be an opportunity for the players in the Mexican league.”

Osorio, a native of Colombia, replaced Miguel Herrera two months ago and is 2-0 so far. He previously coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS, and South American clubs Once Caldas, Nacional and Sao Paulo. He is known for this unorthodox training methods and his libretas — notebooks in which he keeps play-by-play during matches in multicolored ink.

▪ Chelsea in trouble: Interim Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink said it was a real possibility that the defending English Premier League champions could be relegated.

The Blues are in 14th place, six points off the bottom three, and their next two games are at home against Everton and away at Arsenal. After that, they play Watford, Manchester United and Newcastle.

“It’s reality,” said Hiddink, who took over for Jose Mourinho in December. “We have two difficult games coming up. If you don’t gather points there, you don’t know what the others do. The Premier League can surprise you.

“There are 12 points’ difference to fourth place. We all like to look forward and to the top of the table, but also don’t be unrealistic — you’re six points off the line of relegation. That’s also a fact.”

Who’s leading

EPL: Arsenal and Leicester City (43), Manchester City (40), Tottenham (36), West Ham (35).

La Liga: Atletico Madrid (44), Barcelona (42), Real Madrid (40), Villarreal (39), Celta Vigo (31).

Serie A: Napoli (41), Fiorentina (38), Juventus and Inter (37), Roma (34).

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (46), Dortmund (38), Hertha Berlin (32), Monchengladbach (32), Bayer Leverkusen (27).

Ligue 1: PSG (54), Angers (34), Monaco and OGC Nice (33), Caen (30).

On the tube

Sunday: Liverpool vs. Manchester United (9:05 a.m., NBCSN), Real Madrid vs. Sporting Gijon (9:55 a.m., BeINSport USA), Stoke City vs. Arsenal (11:15 a.m., NBCSN), Barcelona vs. Athletic Club (2:25 pm., BeINSport USA).

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