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USA vs Germany, SheBelieves Cup: what to watch for

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So who’s going in that three-back?

Soccer: International Friendly Women's Soccer-Japan at USA Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

SheBelieves 2017 is here. As much as it was a cash grab from US Soccer, it was also a pretty good idea. A regular domestic mini-tournament with high-caliber opponents is a great way to give the women’s national team good competition without having to travel much, and in off years it gives the team a bump without the benefit of a World Cup or Olympics.

The United States will first face Germany this Wednesday, a Germany that is in the midst of Euro 2017 preparations. Here’s the Germany roster by position:

Goalkeepers (3): Laura Benkarth (SC Freiburg), Almuth Schult (VfL Wolfsburg), Lisa Weiß (SGS Essen)

Defenders (9): Anna Blässe (VfL Wolfsburg), Pauline Bremer (Olympique Lyonnais), Kristin DeMann (1899 Hoffenheim), Verena Faiβt (Bayern München), Kathrin Hendrich (FFC Frankfurt), Josephine Henning (Olympique Lyonnais), Isabel Kerschowski (VfL Wolfsburg), Babett Peter (VfL Wolfsburg), Felicitas Rauch (FFC Turbine Potsdam)

Midfielders (6): Sarah Däbritz (Bayern München), Linda Dallman (SGS Essen), Sara Doorsoun (SGS Essen), Leonie Maier (Bayern München), Dzsenifer Marozsan (Olympique Lyonnais), Alexandra Popp (VfL Wolfsburg)

Forwards (5): Mandy Islacker (FFC Frankfurt), Hasret Kayikci (SC Freiburg), Lina Magull (SC Freiburg), Anja Mittag (VfL Wolfsburg), Lena Petermann (SC Freiburg)

Germany has just as many players to watch for as the United States, but keep an eye on Anja Mittag, as she’ll be one of the key players testing the American defense, particularly if Jill Ellis sticks with a three-back. We’ll also see if filling up the midfield can possibly contain Dzsenifer Marozsan, who will be looking for the runners exploiting any possible space left exposed by the defense.

As for the United States, WILL we see the three-back again? There’s a lot of reasons to think so, namely being Ellis still hasn’t gotten to test it out in truly tough conditions. Ellis may set it up as something like Casey Short - Allie Long - Becky Sauerbrunn, using Tobin Heath and someone like Crystal Dunn as her wingers. It would be nice if Ellis would test out something more like Short - Sauerbrunn - Ali Krieger, pushing Long a little higher instead of hoping that her field vision and long passing has improved enough to become effective against Germany. Especially now that Andi Sullivan, so promising in front of the back three, is now out with an ACL injury. So Morgan Brian may end up guarding the back three paired with Sam Mewis or even Rose Lavelle, who would be getting her first cap.

Here’s a possible starting XI. Normally Alex Morgan would go into the top spot, but based on being held out of a recent Lyon game while recovering from illness and a comment from Ellis that she picked up a “knock” in France, she might still be resting or be considered a sub for this game.

What do you think? Will Lavelle and Brianna Pinto get capped? What about goalkeeper - Naeher is in the above starting XI but it’s just as likely that it could be Ashlyn Harris as well.

USA vs Germany kicks off at 7 PM ET on Wednesday, March 1 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA. It will air live on FS1.