In Group F, it’s the matchup everyone has been waiting for, as the United States Women’s National Team faces Sweden in Le Havre tomorrow night. It’s a match that will determine who wins Group F and who finishes 2nd. The winner of the group will play Spain in the Round of 16, while the runner-up will draw either Canada or The Netherlands. For the USWNT, they have made quick work of their victories against both Thailand and Chile, and they now focus on winning the group and securing an easy travel schedule for the rest of the tournament.
Standing in their way are the Swedes, who have had tougher battles against the other two Group F opponents, beating Chile 2-0 and Thailand 5-1. Still, they’ve always played the USWNT tough, despite the USWNT maintaining a 3-1-1 record in previous World Cup matchups. They’re hoping to steal one in Le Havre from the USWNT. The USWNT had their only loss in almost two years in Le Havre, that a 3-1 loss to France back in January. Who’s going to push the issue and claim Group F?
What to watch for
Can Jill Ellis turn the lineup loose? Jill Ellis has been rotating several players in her lineup for the first two matches. Now that most players have had an opportunity to hit the field, will she turn to her A+ lineup and put them in positions where they are most successful? This will be vital against Sweden, a familiar opponent who knows how the U.S. plays. The team can’t play timid, and Jill Ellis has to really let them be the dynamic players they are. If so, edge goes to the United States.
Who’s going to create the scoring chances? The USWNT has created a lot of scoring chances, but they couldn’t get many past Chile, whose goalkeeper, Christiane Endler, was incredible. Sweden’s goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl, is also very solid and will try to snuff out any scoring chances that the USWNT may have. Still, while Sweden’s goalkeeper and back line are solid, the USWNT should be able to create those chances. Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, and even Crystal Dunn must be great at linking up with each other to create opportunities to score. They clearly have proven capable thus far in the tournament, but it will be more important than ever tomorrow.
Can the team have another clean sheet? The back line hasn’t had much to deal with so far in the World Cup, but they have to expect Sweden to have some chances tomorrow. Alyssa Naeher and company have kept the back of the net clean, but there are still some shaky moments with their play out of the back. The USWNT will have to step up and take out the garbage. They only need a draw to win the Group, but Sweden will be pressing for the win. The back line has to press to once again keep Sweden out of the penalty area and off the scoresheet.
What are you watching for tomorrow? Hit the comments and discuss.