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Move over, Austin FC: US Women's National Team gets first match at Q2 Stadium

Megan Rapinoe, pictured right, spoke with Austin media about playing the first match at Q2 Stadium this summer. (USWNT/Twitter)

Austin FC may not get to christen their new Q2 Stadium, but a team with an even larger global reach will.

The U.S. Women's National Team is set to kick off play at Q2 Stadium as they face off against Nigeria as part of the Summer Series at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16. The World Cup champions will play three days before Austin FC's historic home debut against the San Jose Earthquakes.

In a press conference with Austin media, USWNT forward and record-breaker Megan Rapinoe said the team was excited to play Nigeria, a team they've never faced outside a world championship, and that the team's success reflects a global trend of skyrocketing interest in women's soccer. Nigeria has won 11 Africa Women Cup of Nations titles and advanced to the quarterfinals in both the FIFA Women's World Cup and the Olympics.

"I think it's a big signal to how much the game is continuing to grow from a global perspective," Rapinoe said. "I think having an eye on the growing women's game and getting a team here that we normally don't get to play is really amazing."

Big fans of USWNT can get more than one taste of the championship team: as part of their Summer Series, they'll also play Jamaica and Portugal on June 10 and 13, respectively, at the BBVA Stadium in Houston.

Rapinoe said she knows about the buzz in Austin, and frankly, she said the team has had enough of playing in other Texas cities.

"I think most things about Austin have a nice buzz to it," Rapinoe said. "We do enough of the Houston-Dallas action. The breakfast tacos alone are reason to be excited about heading to Texas, and the being able to break in the new stadium for the national team and Austin."

All three matches may be friendlies, but they serve as the ultimate test: the USWNT's match at Q2 will be their final showdown before Head Coach Vlatko Andonovski announces the Olympic roster, and it'll be their last simulation of a group stage before the real deal kicks off in July.

Rapinoe said the team will look to build chemistry and finetune their gameplay in the Summer Series.

"All of these minutes and seconds that we get together are really vital," Rapinoe said. "These games are huge, to be able to not only get together and continue to grow chemistry as a team and nail some things down, but start to get into the details a little bit more."

A month after making their Q2 Stadium debut, the team will head to Tokyo for the 2021 Olympics. They're set to face off against Sweden on July 21, New Zealand on July 24 and Australia on July 27 as part of Group G in the long-postponed Olympic Games.

Rapinoe and the USWNT have long been advocates for gender equality, racial justice and LGBTQ+ rights. Even with the Olympics looming closer, Rapinoe said activism is "a necessity" on and off the pitch. "It doesn't feel like an option," she said.

Rapinoe hopes that fight comes to Austin. Long after the USWNT leaves the Q2 Stadium pitch, Rapinoe said she hopes Austin FC owner Anthony Precourt follows through with bringing a National Women's Soccer team to Austin as he's teased interest in before.

"I'd ask to see his pitch deck and plans for an NWSL expansion team," Rapinoe said. "I think people ask all the time what they can do to support women's soccer...(and) I think the answers are really obvious. I would say Austin would be an incredible city to have an NWSL team."

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