England’s excitement rises for USA clash at Wembley after reaching World Cup

·3-min read

Sarina Wiegman has emphasised England’s excitement for next month’s Wembley clash against the United States with World Cup qualification now secured.

A few days after the Lionesses’ Euros triumph at the stadium on July 31, it was announced they would return on October 7 for a friendly against the reigning world champions.

That was subject to the team sealing a place at next summer’s tournament in Australia and New Zealand in their September qualifiers – a job completed on Saturday via a 2-0 win over Austria in Wiener Neustadt.

Like the Euros final against Germany, the October fixture is a Wembley sell-out.

And when boss Wiegman – whose side finish their Group D games by playing Luxembourg at the bet365 Stadium on Tuesday – was asked if it was time to get excited about the encounter with the US, she said: “Absolutely, yes.

“I think we were really, really excited about this game already, but you know you have to put it to bed until you get qualified, you never know what happens.

“Now that’s done, of course we are going to play Tuesday and we want to enjoy the game again – there are going to be 30,000 fans in the stadium, people will watch the game on TV too. So we want to play a good game.

Alessia Russo (left) scored the opening goal in England's 2-0 win over Austria (John Walton/PA).
Alessia Russo (left) scored the opening goal in England’s 2-0 win over Austria (John Walton/PA).

“But we’re excited about the America game, that’s absolutely true.”

While Saturday’s match was also sold out, the scene made for some contrast to Wembley, with the attendance only 2,600.

A small number of away fans travelled while there were also Austrians wearing Lionesses shirts at the game, and Wiegman was asked if she had made England cool again with what had happened at the Euros.

And she said with a smile: “No, I think we made England cool! England has been cool before. I think they just like the shirts!

“But I do think the way we played, the way the tournament was – it’s not just England, I think there were so many very good games – we wanted to inspire the nation, but I think this tournament inspired Europe and beyond, and that is what it shows, and actually that is pretty exciting too.

“People come up to us and want our signatures and they are Austrian people.”

Having had an unchanged starting line-up through the Euros, Wiegman made three changes for the match, with Alessia Russo replacing retired record scorer Ellen White, Ella Toone coming in for the injured Fran Kirby and Rachel Daly dropping to the bench for Alex Greenwood.

Nikita Parris celebrates doubling England's lead on Saturday
Nikita Parris celebrates doubling England’s lead on Saturday (John Walton/PA)

Russo put the Lionesses ahead with a seventh-minute finish and the victory was wrapped up by a strike from substitute Nikita Parris in the second half.

Regarding the Luxembourg game, Wiegman said: “Some players might need some extra rest, because they came in already with less playing minutes, with less training sessions, still not totally recovered from the Euros.

“But we’ll think about that – and it also gives an opportunity to other players.”