So begins the post-HAO era, as the WNT moves on without the retired Heather O’Reilly after bidding her farewell in their last friendly against Thailand, which they won handily 9-0.
The last time the U.S. faced the Netherlands was April 9, 2013, a 3-1 win in a friendly at The Hague. The Netherlands are ranked #12 by FIFA and have a fair number of players who could make the United States pay for any defensive lapses - lapses we saw against Thailand, such as when high pressure on Meghan Klingenberg forced a turnover in U.S. territory. Then again, the U.S. was also playing a low-key game against Thailand and will probably be on higher alert when facing the Netherlands; it’s unlikely they’ll be able to do things like go to a casual three-back or sub out a player and willingly go down to 10.
Lieke Martens and Mandy van den Berg are both players to watch for Oranje. Van den Berg is an experienced center back and team captain who can help shut down Carli Lloyd or whoever else Jill Ellis asks to push up the middle. And here’s a pretty good shot from distance from Martens in last year’s World Cup.
There’s also young Vivianne Miedema, who at 20 already has 37 caps for the Netherlands. She can place shots in all four corners of the net and knows how to keep a cool head in a crowded 18.
U.S. roster decisions
Kelley O’Hara is unavailable for this game.
No Kelley O'Hara for tomorrow's #USWNT game at the Georgia Dome. The Fayetteville native will miss the game due to a death in the family— CBS46 Sports (@CBS46Sports) September 17, 2016
Mal Pugh is also out for this game, staying with the U20 WNT and recovering from an ankle injury. Morgan Brian should be back, though.
We’ll see if Ellis rotates anyone for her starting XI; against Thailand, she put out a mostly-full-strength defense, with O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, Johnston, and Krieger. With O’Hara out, that could mean a Klingenberg start, as well as a full 90 for Ali Krieger, something which is becoming increasingly rarer as Ellis favors O’Hara.
If Brian is up to it, she may also replace Samantha Mewis in the XI, backing up Carli Lloyd and Allie Long. It would be nice if those three in the midfield didn’t necessarily preclude Lindsey Horan from also being on the pitch, pushed higher in a more attacking role.
We’ll see if Ellis also rotates her forwards. Christen Press started last time, with Lloyd pushing so far high as to essentially be a second striker. This time that could mean a start for Alex Morgan and/or Crystal Dunn. We’ll also see if Ellis rotates her keepers, putting in Alyssa Naeher after Ashlyn Harris finally got her first full 90 in some time against Thailand. Sticking with Harris could signal a reversal in camp that Harris has pulled ahead of Naeher in the GK race to #1, something that could have implications for the team’s two October friendlies against Switzerland.
Date and time: 7 PM ET, Sunday, September 18
Venue: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Broadcast: live on Fox Sports 1
Available streams: Fox Soccer 2 Go