The United States women's national team begins its latest set of friendlies with a match against rival Canada. Even though it's been a one-sided rivalry in the former's favor, the teams have had several memorable meetings, including one at the 2012 Olympics.
Canada has become more competitive in recent years, but the Americans still hold a 42-3-5 record against their neighbors to the north. The most recent fixture came last June, which saw the United States win 3-0. Alex Morgan led the charge with two goals.
What's your match prediction?
The clash marks the first of three friendlies for the Americans to open their 2014 campaign. The other two will come against Russia next month. Let's check out all the key viewing information for the rivalry clash, followed by a preview and match prediction.
Where: Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas
When: Friday, Jan. 31 at 9 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Sports 1 and Sportsnet World
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
While the United States roster is pretty much in line with what fans have come to expect over the past few years, the team will be forced to play without Morgan, the hero from the last meeting with Canada.
The superstar forward is sidelined with an ankle injury.
Luckily for the Americans, they have plenty of depth on the attack and should be able to compensate for her absence. Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux will likely lead the offense, but it's also a chance for Christen Press to play a more prominent role.
U.S. Soccer's official site passed along comments from head coach Tom Sermanni, who said the team's training camps were productive, but that it's time to see how it translates to the pitch:
The players and staff are looking forward to playing matches. We had productive training camps in December and January, but having three games in less than two weeks is a great opportunity for these players to continue to show their growth as individuals and as a team. This is the start of a year in which competition for places becomes much more critical, as does team performance and results.
The other key attacking player for the Americans is Megan Rapinoe. The creative midfielder is often the unsung hero of the team's success, using her vision and pinpoint delivery skills to set up the likes of Morgan, Wambach and Leroux.
Which star striker will have a better match?
On the flip side, Canada's style of play revolves heavily around Christine Sinclair. The captain has scored 147 goals in 203 international appearances. No other player on the Canadian roster has more than 13 goals for the national team.
Veteran defenders like Christie Rampone and Rachel Van Hollebeke have gone up against Sinclair a lot over the years, so they know what she's capable of if they give her too much space. She scored a hat trick in that aforementioned Olympic match, which the U.S. won 4-3.
Sinclair is a major reason why the matches between the United States and Canada have become more intriguing. Despite the lopsided record, Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated still considers it a great rivalry:
Heading to Dallas for FS1's broadcast of USWNT-Canada, Friday at 9 pm ET. Great rivalry.— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) January 30, 2014
Ultimately, even though Canada has been able to make the rivalry more competitive, the United States is still a better overall squad. The Americans might come out a bit sluggish, having not played a match since early November, but they should find their stride and score a narrow victory.
Prediction: United States 2, Canada 1