U.S. women’s national team winger Tobin Heath has said her side has been waiting their “whole lives” for an opportunity like the one they will get against France.
The USWNT will take on the host nation in Paris on Friday in the World Cup quarterfinal, which is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated matches in women’s soccer history.
The defending champion USWNT and host nation France are considered to be the two favorites for the World Cup title, but one of them will be eliminated before the semifinal stage.
Heath has said that her team is jumping at the chance to be a part of such a glamorous fixture.
“This is a game that we’ve been looking forward to our whole lives,” Heath said.
“It’s a privilege to be able to play a host country in a host nation, because it’s just that much bigger and these are the type of games that we love.”
The anticipation for the game can partially be measured by ticket prices on the secondary market, which are currently at around €200 ($228) for the cheapest seat available at Parc des Princes.
“I don't know if that’s the right thing ticket-wise,” midfielder Sam Mewis said with a laugh, “but I think it’s exciting that people are willing to pay that much to see the game.”
It’s a match that is setting up to be one of the tournament’s best, with world-class players all over the pitch for both sides including France captain Amandine Henry, with whom Heath played in Portland during the 2016 and 2017 NWSL seasons.
“She’s fantastic, I consider her one of the best players in the world,” Heath said of Henry.
“It was amazing to play alongside her. She’s a natural leader and I think it’s shown a lot during this World Cup. They’re lucky to have her as their captain.”
The U.S. will also have to be wary of France center back Wendie Renard, the tallest player in the World Cup and a two-way threat having scored three goals at the tournament already.
“She’s great in the air, she’s a really well-rounded player,” Mewis said of Renard, who is considered one of the world’s best defenders. “We all have so much respect for her.”
There will be other players the U.S. has to deal with of course, as well as a stadium that is likely to be mostly filled with France supporters. It’s an occasion that has the potential to be massive for the women’s game, and the U.S. players aren’t taking it for granted.
“There’s going to be a lot of eyes on this game and I hope that it’s a good example of how great women’s football can be,” Mewis said. “We’re just excited we get to be a part of it.”