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SheBelieves match preview: USA vs England

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Will England exploit US defensive vulnerabilities?

Soccer: International Friendly Women’s Soccer-Chile at USA Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Watching the United States tie 2-2 against Japan was frustrating in that it was a game the US could have won, and won by a fair margin, and probably with a shutout, given a few tweaks and a better sub. It was a classic “I’m not mad, I’m just...disappointed” style game, although certainly you would want the team to be shaking out all the little nitpicks and nagging problems now rather than getting a surprise pasting in the middle of the World Cup.

Anyway, here’s hoping for a noticeable adjustment against England. That’s the important thing and an oft-repeated phrase here at Stars & Stripes FC: failure is okay as long as you learn from it.

England players to watch

What could the US have learned from watching England play Brazil in their own SheBelieves start? There’s the obvious, that England beat Brazil 2-1, scoring some very watchable goals through Ellen White and Beth Mead. Mead’s goal was very likely a shross gone very right, but it was still nice. As for White, she’s probably going to be carrying a lot of England’s goalscoring threats against the US as well as they attempt to feed her faced up to the goal. England also relied a lot on Izzy Christiansen in midfield, asking her to carry the ball out of deep and push the forwards up into the box. And of course there was Nikita Parris playing into the wide areas with speed, which could keep Crystal Dunn pressed back. Megan Rapinoe mentioned in her post-game comments after playing Japan that the US, with their high-pressing style, is vulnerable to players getting in behind, and Parris could certainly present just such a threat, though she did pick up a knock in the game against Brazil. All in all, England has several good options for breaking a US back line that showed its vulnerability in terms of communication and positioning against Japan.

Rosters:

England

GOALKEEPERS (3): Karen Bardsley (Manchester City), Mary Earps (Wolfsburg, Germany), Carly Telford (Chelsea).

DEFENDERS (8): Gemma Bonner (Manchester City), Lucy Bronze (Lyon), Rachel Daly (Houston Dash), Alex Greenwood (Manchester United), Steph Houghton (Manchester City), Abbie McManus (Manchester City), Demi Stokes (Manchester City), Leah Williamson (Arsenal).

MIDFIELDERS (6): Karen Carney (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Lyon), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Lucy Staniforth (Birmingham City), Georgia Stanway (Manchester City), Keira Walsh (Manchester City).

FORWARDS (6): Toni Duggan (Barcelona, Spain), Beth Mead (Arsenal), Nikita Parris (Manchester City), Jodie Taylor (Seattle Reign), Chioma Ubogagu* (Orlando Pride), Ellen White (Birmingham City).

USA

GOALKEEPERS (3): 21-Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 19/0), 1-Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 40/0)

DEFENDERS (7): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 32/0), 12-Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 14/1); 19-Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 77/24), 22-Emily Fox (UNC; 3/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 112/2); 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 151/0), 14-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 27/0), 2-Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 28/0)

MIDFIELDERS (6): 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 74/18); 16-Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 21/6), 3-Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 43/8), 6-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 11/0), 25-McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 8/0)

FORWARDS (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 143/25); 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 266/105), 20-Jessica McDonald (NC Courage; 5/1), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 155/98), 23-Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 108/47), 11- Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit; 45/13), 15- Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 146/41)

Possible starting XI:

We may see Davidson get another start in the back line, which, despite some mistakes against Japan, could be good for two reasons. First, Davidson is highly likely to be a depth CB on the World Cup roster, and given the schedule grind, is also highly likely to have to play at least one group game. Showing some confidence in her and sending her back out even after she had a less-than-stellar game could be critical to preparing her mentally for this summer. Second, Becky Sauerbrunn still might not be 100%, as relayed to media by Jill Ellis after playing Japan.

Schedule and TV info

USA vs England
Saturday, March 2
4:30 PM ET / 1:30 PM PT
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, TN
FOX