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ToN: Houston Dash GK Lydia Williams excited to face familiar faces in opening round

When perusing social media for the Houston Dash, it is difficult not to find a link, reference or shout to a player web series. A buddy cop movie in the making, the Give and Go with Lyd and Mo show gives a good insight into Lydia Williams and Morgan Brian's friendship.

The show is a representation of the connection between the two that extends well beyond the field. The pair share a host family and have a hobby of posting videos to YouTube about their exploits on the road, the love of their puppies, training and pranks played on each other.

When Australia suits up against the United States in the Tournament of Nations, the relationship gives way to a matchup that Williams has been looking forward to playing out.

"Playing in an international club team, you play with players and now to get the opportunity to play against them, it adds something," Williams said. "Obviously, we know each other pretty well playing with each other for the club, but when you play for your country, it's a different feeling."

The last time the two countries squared off both Brian and Williams were more spectators with Brian only coming on for the final four-plus minutes of the match and the goalkeeper not factoring into the 3-1 U.S. win to open the 2015 FIFA World Cup.

Two years later, the two are club teammates and developing a friendship. Now that Brian, who is joined on the U.S. national team by fellow Dash players Carli Lloyd and Jane Campbell, is working her way back to full health, the two have another chance to take their online show to the field.

"Definitely there's banter. There's definitely banter after training. I don't think it'll get serious until the whistle blows," Williams said. "I've done this for quite a while, so it's pretty easy to go from teammates to playing for your country. For us, it's pretty easy to switch over. Everyone's pretty professional. The 90 minutes and that's it, and you're ‘mates’ afterward."

The back-and-forth comes with the territory of having teammates facing each other on the international stage. For Williams, an Olympics and World Cup veteran, it is a chance to get back in between the pipes, a place that she has not been since being replaced in the Dash starting XI six games ago.

Since, Williams has taken to an unfamiliar role, backing up Campbell. As she's watched the Dash improve, it has been tough to sit by and not be the regular contributor she is used to being.

"I've been trying to top off [my form] with extra [work]. I haven't actually had a break from playing in a really long time, so it's kind of been refreshing in a way," Williams said. "It's definitely different, but I've been going from season to season for years, and I haven't had a mental break. So this is something like that."

Getting the unexpected break should help Williams contribute to Australia's bid in the Tournament of Nations. While Australia has been a player in the international game over the past two World Cups, any time her and her international teammates can face the U.S. is a good opportunity to see where they are.

"We've got a really young team. We've been together as a group going on four or five years now," Williams said. "For us, we all know each other really well and are still developing, and it's really exciting to see how we're progressing towards France.

"Yeah, I think the U.S. is quite renowned for closing out games, and that's something we have to develop with Australia. We have a lot of tricks up our sleeves. It's a good measuring point." 

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