Lindsey Horan and the top-ranked Americans are unbeaten in 28 matches since August 2017. (Armando Franca/Associated Press)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team will prepare to defend its world title by playing two friendlies in Europe and eight matches at U.S. venues, culminating with a visit to the New York area.

In a long-term schedule released by the U.S. Soccer Federation on Thursday, the top-ranked Americans will face five of the top eight teams in the FIFA rankings, including Japan, its opponent in the past two Women’s World Cup championship games.

The calendar will begin with a previously announced match, Jan. 19 at fourth-ranked France, and continue three days later at No. 12 Spain, a rising power in Europe.

The remainder of the schedule will take place at home, beginning with the fourth annual SheBelieves Cup, featuring matches against seventh-ranked Japan on Feb. 27 in Chester, Pa., No. 3 England on March 2 in Nashville and No. 8 Brazil on March 5 in Tampa.

In April, the Americans will host No. 6 Australia near Denver and Belgium at the year-old MLS stadium in downtown Los Angeles.

In the final push before the Women’s World Cup in France, the opponents will be South Africa on May 12 in Santa Clara, Calif., a team to be determined May 16 in St. Louis, and Mexico on May 26 at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J.

Seven of the nine confirmed opponents qualified for this summer’s tournament. (Belgium and Mexico did not.) All matches will be played on natural grass. Four will take place in MLS stadiums, three in NFL venues and one in a baseball park (Busch Stadium in St. Louis).

The domestic games will be spread across four time zones (three Eastern, two Central, one Mountain and two Pacific). TV plans are being finalized.

Date Opponent Location Time (ET)
Jan. 19 France Le Havre, France 2:30
Jan. 22 Spain Alicante, Spain 2:30
Feb. 27 Japan Chester, Pa. 7
March 2 England Nashville 4:30
March 5 Brazil Tampa 8
April 4 Australia Commerce City, Colo. 9
April 7 Belgium Los Angeles 9
May 12 South Africa Santa Clara, Calif. 4:30
May 16 tba St. Louis 8
May 26 Mexico Harrison, N.J. noon

Some team rankings will change Friday when FIFA releases an updated list. Those rankings will figure into the selection pots used at the Women’s World Cup draw this Saturday near Paris. At that time, the 24 qualified teams will learn their four-team groups, first-round schedule and pathway to the July 7 final in Lyon.

The Americans and host French are certain of claiming two of the six top seeds. England and Germany are favored as well, with Canada, Australia, Japan and Brazil in contention for the last two coveted spots.

The Women’s World Cup will begin June 7 with France playing in Paris.

“This schedule checks a lot of important boxes in our preparation for the World Cup,” U.S. Coach Jill Ellis said in a statement released by the USSF. “We’ll get to experience a variety of teams in regard to their strengths and styles of play and almost all of the countries will be in their World Cup preparation as well.

"We are playing tough games in Europe, which is vitally important, and also get to play quality opponents in front of our home fans at venues all across the USA. It will go fast, but these games will be a major factor in pushing us to be at our peak once we arrive in France next summer.”

The Americans are riding a 28-game unbeaten streak (25-0-3) after going 18-0-2 in 2018.

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