On Friday (7pm PT, ESPN2), the U.S. Women's National Team will take on New Zealand in Denver, Colo. in the first of a pair of friendlies between the two nations.
Three Thorns FC midfielders – Allie Long, Tobin Heath, and Lindsey Horan – will represent their country in the two matches, with the second of the two games being played next Tuesday, Sep. 19 (4:30pm PT, FS1), at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
For Horan, these matches provide yet another test for the U.S. Women to judge where they've improved and how they stack up to some of their international competitors.
“We have to improve as well and know that all these other teams are working hard to do the same thing so going into these games we have to take every opportunity,” she said. “It's so important having these few trainings and games to improve and get better and learn and then move forward.”
But such improvements must come in part because many of the U.S. Women's biggest competitors on the international stage are themselves improving at a rapid pace. Even so, Horan struck a note of confidence ahead of Friday's match.
“All these teams are getting better and better and that's cool for us,” said Horan. “You know, we're such an incredible team and have so many great players that you see around the world everyone else is getting better physically and technically...And now, we have new goals and we know that we have to improve and moving forward we're going to win that World Cup in a few years.”
Horan, a native of Colorado, is no less excited about the prospect of playing at home in front of her family and friends.
“It's always so nice coming home [to Denver], being here with the team again, but being in my home state and having my family and friends here – it's incredible.”