Although Paisley on a potentially cold and wet autumnal evening might prove to be a shock for the world’s best women’s team, Shelley Kerr believes the scheduled arrival of the United States on 13 November is a just reward for Scotland’s back-to-back major championship qualifications.
Her side could, of course, even land up in the same group as the three-times World Cup winners when the 2019 tournament is played in France next summer. Even if they don’t, the friendly against the top-ranked side in the Fifa women’s rankings will provide a taste of what lies ahead.
“Qualification for the World Cup, and the world champions want to play you on your home patch – it doesn’t get any better,” Kerr enthused. “It’s a showcase and a chance for everyone who supports the women’s game to see some of the best players in the world live.
“It says a lot that they want to play us. They’re not coming here for the sunshine, that’s for sure. It also gives our players the opportunity to get all the plaudits they rightly deserve after a physically and mentally draining qualifying campaign.”
The United States were also world champions when Scotland, with Kerr in central defence, played a friendly at the Columbus Crew Stadium in 2002. Head coach Vera Pauw had used her contacts to secure the fixture, one which was out of the usual orbit of a Scotland side which was nowhere remotely close to the status of the current No 19 world ranking.
“It was only a five-day trip and you were talking amateur players for Scotland back then,” Kerr confirmed. “It was about 95 degrees, so that was an added challenge in itself. I was in awe because it was some of my heroes we were playing.
“It was 2-2 at half time but we took a real beating after that. It finished 8-2. We matched them for half a game and that was our claim to fame.
“I was marking [Mia] Hamm, who was at her peak. There were so many big, big superstars in that team, including Abby Wambach and Brandi Chastain, who was famous for her winning goal at the 1999 World Cup and taking her top off at the end.”
The Scots have subsequently played the United States three further times, losing 2-1 in the Cyprus Cup in 2008, and then 4-1 and 3-1 in a double header in America five years later.
Kim Little, who scored in the 4-1 game, will not feature in Paisley after fracturing a fibula in Arsenal’s recent 5-0 FA Women’s Super League win over Chelsea. She was the victim of a two-footed lunge from behind by Drew Spence and is expected to be out for the rest of the year.
“In my opinion it was a bad tackle,” Kerr said of the injury which follows an ACL rupture which forced the midfielder out of the Euros. “She was back to her very best before the injury in my opinion, and she will come back again for sure.
“She is a strong, strong person. Her will and desire to be the very best shines through all the time. I know Arsenal will look after her.”
With defender Sophie Howard also injured, Hibernian captain Joelle Murray and Glasgow City midfielder Hayley Lauder return to the squad following their own mishaps. Kerr admitted that former Hibs player Lucy Graham, who scored two goals for Bristol City against Yeovil in England’s top flight on Sunday, had also come very close to selection.