There are a few things we already learned from their friendly against Sweden, which saw Vlatko Andonovski lining them up in a 4-1-4-1, putting Carli Lloyd out as his lone striker, but also pushing more of his midfielders at the goal and giving the US more options for penetrating runs. We learned that Lloyd still makes for a great target in front of goal and should be kept as high up the pitch as possible instead of being sucked back into the midfield. We learned that Casey Short and Emily Sonnett add more outside back depth than previously calculated. We learned that Andi Sullivan is not quite ready to fill Julie Ertz’s shoes but she is making for a good understudy.
So what next? A repeat of the 4-1-4-1 to see how it plays out against a less defensively tough team? Costa Rica might not set up in as dense a block as Sweden, who sometimes pulled back in two strong lines of four in their defensive third. They also might not be as hard to break down even if they do decide to live for 90 minutes in a low block.
Perhaps we’ll also see some player rotation - Morgan Brian, Allie Long, AD Franch, Jess McDonald, Aubrey Bledsoe, and Alana Cook all did not dress for the last game. Imani Dorsey and Midge Purce were available as subs, but didn’t make it onto the pitch. Perhaps had the scoreline remained three up in the US’ favor, one or both could have come on, but as it were, Andonovski preserved a 3-2 win with just four subs. It was particularly interesting seeing Dorsey listed as a sub, since there were no other defenders dressed for the game, barring Purce going in as a fullback. Dorsey has been playing outside back for Sky Blue FC, but it’s definitely not her best role. But OB has been a way for talented players who can’t seem to crack the forward pool to still have a role with the team, and under Andonovksi’s tutelage, perhaps Dorsey will be the next Kelley O’Hara.
This will also be our first taste of Andonovski’s preferences from game to game. Under Jill Ellis, consistency was clearly the watchword. She preferred to keep her starters in place before shifting things around with subs. Andonovski may want to see as many different combinations of players as possible while he can before he has to lock in an Olympic roster, or he may want to keep the team on an even keel in preparation for that very roster. Let’s find out together!
Possible starting XI based on a combination of rotation, wanting to see new players, and whimsy:
How to watch:
USA vs Costa Rica
Sunday, November 10
8 PM ET / 5 PM PT
TV: ESPN2, TUDN