The U.S. Soccer Federation and D.C. United are in talks about arranging a U.S. women’s national soccer team friendly at Audi Field in November, multiple people familiar with the discussions said Monday.
The match, against an opponent to be determined, would be part of a post-World Cup tour by the Americans, who are seeking their fourth global championship June 7-July 7 in France.
Neither the USSF nor D.C. United, which owns Audi Field, wanted to comment. The federation is not expected to finalize a fall schedule for some time. There are three FIFA windows in the months after the World Cup, and the USSF plans to schedule matches during all of them, which suggests six games.
The top-ranked Americans last played in Washington in March 2017, a 3-0 defeat to France on the final day of the SheBelieves Cup at RFK Stadium.
The U.S. men’s team will make its first appearance at the 20,000-seat venue June 5 for a pre-Gold Cup friendly against Jamaica.
>> The schedule is set for a French men’s preseason tournament at Audi Field this summer.
On July 18, Montpellier will face Saint-Etienne at 6 p.m. and Olympique Marseille will play Bordeaux at 8:30. The third-place match and final will take place July 21 at the same times.
Three days later, Olympique Marseille will meet D.C. United in a midweek friendly, the second of three international matches on the MLS team’s schedule. United will play Spain’s Real Betis this Wednesday and is tentatively planning to tangle with a Mexican side in September.
United and Ligue de Football Professionnel, which oversees the French men’s pro leagues, have signed a three-year contract, though both sides carry the option of opting out if the event does not generate satisfactory interest. The visiting teams are expected to change each year.
The French league is paying an unspecified amount to showcase its teams in a major U.S. city.
The purpose of the French visit is clear: Ligue 1 needs to make up a lot of ground on European leagues (Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga) that have built a strong foundation of support in the U.S. market. Paris Saint-Germain, featuring Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, is the only French club with a large following in the United States.
“The main challenge for Ligue 1 is to catch up with our peers in Europe,” said Didier Quillot, LFP’s executive director general. “We have to catch up in terms of sporting result and economic result. To increase the value of international [TV] rights, we have to increase the exposure of Ligue 1 in the main countries of the world, the U.S. being the main country in the world.”
LFP has targeted China and the United States for growth.
Quillot also hopes to increase investment in French clubs by the U.S. business sector. While Bordeaux and Olympique Marseille are owned by Americans, “we need more,” he said. “We need more U.S. investors because we need to bring new money into French football, which is attractive in terms of sport, talent, stadiums and valuation. It’s a good time to invest in France."
>> The French tournament will require doubleheaders, an arrangement that is not perfectly suited for Audi Field, which features just three full locker rooms. That oversight in design and construction has hurt the venue’s chances of hosting other events involving four participants.
For this tournament, stadium officials plan to improvise by utilizing ample space in the back of the house. In one scenario, a team involved in the second game would use one of the large, unused rooms before the match and access one of the vacated locker rooms afterward.
>> Audi Field will end up hosting all of Loudoun United’s first five matches after D.C. made initial plans to play one or two games at George Mason University. United withdrew because of financial issues related to league-mandated infrastructure.
Loudoun United, which is D.C. United’s new second-division team, will have a place of its own starting Aug. 9, when a 5,000-seat facility opens in Leesburg.
Loudoun has already played twice at Audi Field and will complete the off-site home schedule there against Indy Eleven on June 15, Atlanta United II on June 28 and Louisville City on July 28.