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US women to open 2019 at France, play Mexico in send-off

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CHICAGO (AP) — The United States women’s soccer team will open next year with games at World Cup host France and Spain and finish a 10-game schedule leading to the tournament with a send-off match against Mexico at Harrison, New Jersey, on May 26.

The defending world champion Americans play France at Le Havre on Jan. 19 and face Spain at Alicante three days later, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Thursday.

Japan, which beat the U.S. in the 2011 World Cup final and lost the final to the Americans in 2015, plays the U.S. on Feb. 27 at Chester, Pennsylvania.

The top-ranked U.S. plays England on March 2 at Nashville, Tennessee, and Brazil three days later at Tampa, Florida, then meets Australia on April 4 at Commerce City, Colorado, and Belgium three days later at Los Angeles.

The Americans close their warmups against South Africa on May 12 at Santa Clara, California, against an opponent to be determined four days later at St. Louis and versus Mexico.

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“This schedule checks a lot of important boxes in our preparation for the World Cup. 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,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said in a statement.

The U.S. will learn its group-stage World Cup opponents during Saturday’s draw at Paris.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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