UPDATE: US Soccer says Abby Dahlkemper did not travel with the team to LA due to a foot injury.
The United States just blew out Romania eight to one. Christen Press got a hat trick, Alex Morgan got a brace, Tobin Heath forced an own goal and scored on her own, and Morgan Brian had a diving header. All of this with a change-up in the formation and a shaky back line that trouble coping with Romanian counters.
So now the US is going into their final friendly of 2016 with their second of two games against Romania. Is there anything at stake here? Not really. Unless someone has an exceptionally bad performance, there probably won’t be many implications for roster spots. Ellis will almost certainly rotate in some of the players who didn’t dress for the first game: Kristen Edmonds, Ali Krieger, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Menges, and Megan Rapinoe. Dahlkemper is probably the surest bet out of that group, but it would be nice to see Menges and Krieger have their chances on the back line too.
They’ll play again in the 3-4-3 and Ashlyn Harris will get rotated for Alyssa Naeher. Christen Press and Alex Morgan will both score. Crystal Dunn will pick up at least one assist. One of the only real questions is if Ellis will let Lynn Williams and Jess McDonald play together at the same time, possibly in a shift back to a 3-5-2.
With all that in mind, fans should just enjoy this game as a stress reliever. The 3-4-3 and the 3-5-2 that Ellis has been testing out over the past couple of months could simply be extra tools to add to a regular formation that sticks with a more stable four in the back. The SheBelieves tournament will be here in few months, and even if Ellis continues to test a three-back system in order to attempt midfield domination or push a lot of attackers at teams at once (considering the depth of the US bench at that position, sure, why not), that’s what this transition period is for. It’s okay to make mistakes or lose - well, just as long as Ellis and the team genuinely learn from those mistakes.
USA vs Romania kicks off at 9:30 PM ET on Sunday, November 13 on FS1.