This week, the United States Women’s National Team will host Russia in a pair of friendlies. It will be the first time the team will play since the SheBelieves Cup in early March, where the U.S. finished in last place. These two matches provide the USWNT with a chance to regain confidence and work toward improving on the following issues.
The offensive production wasn’t there in the SheBelieves Cup. Only one goal was scored by the USWNT during the tournament and it came in the first match. The inability to finish cost the team big time as it failed to match England and France in its two losses.
The team was never out-shot in all three matches as the U.S. produced opportunities, but could not finish. There was good play from Lynn Williams and Christen Press, who both proved dangerous at times and are on the roster for the upcoming friendlies. Alex Morgan is coming off of a successful month at Lyon and appears to be in much better form than she was in early March.
With all that said, the last time these two countries met, it was not close. The U.S. won by a combined score of 15-0 over the course of two matches. If history repeats itself, then the USWNT should have plenty of scoring opportunities, however, if the team struggles against Russia it will be a serious concern.
The three-player back line experiment did not go terribly by any means, but there were times of difficulty in defense, especially against France. It worked well against lesser competition and needed to be tested against some of the world’s better teams. The SheBelieves Cup offered an opportunity to test it against better competition. On multiple occasions, the French were able to open up the defense and find the final ball with ease. It’s unclear who will start the matches on the back line this week, and a good guess will be the lineups will be switched around from match to match again.
Finding a No. 1 Goalkeeper
In the SheBelieves Cup, it was essentially a battle between Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher for the starting job. Naeher started in the opening match win against Germany and the loss against France, while Harris was in net in the loss to England. Neither player’s performance really seemed to make a case for who should get the starting job.
Joining Naeher and Harris once more is Jane Campbell of the Houston Dash. Campbell was also on the roster for the SheBeleives Cup, but did not make an appearance. It will be interesting to see if she makes an appearance this time around as Jill Ellis was content on playing the other two in early March.
With the Hope Solo era behind us, it’s important to get a consistent starting goalkeeper in the net. It’s unlikely a decision will come from this set of friendlies, but it may make all three goalkeepers’ performance this season in the National Women’s Soccer League all the more important.
The friendlies are set for Thursday and Sunday this week. Match number one will be played in Frisco, TX, at FC Dallas’ home stadium, and the second match will be played at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston. Both friendlies will be nationally televised on FS1 and ESPN, respectively.