The 2019 Women’s World Cup has entered the knockout stage, and the United States Women’s National Team have a tough opponent in front of them when they battle Spain tomorrow in the Round of 16. The two teams last faced each other in Alicante back in January, a 1-0 win for the USWNT that was hard fought and had several chances for both teams.
Spain is a team that has improved tremendously over the past few years, and they’re poised to become one of the top teams in the world. Beating the USWNT would be a huge feather in their cap and would show that they’re here to stay on the world’s stage. For the USWNT, they know now that every match could be their last, and they want to prove that the road to the 2019 World Cup trophy doesn’t run through Paris or Lyon, but the United States.
What to watch for
Will the defense continue to hold strong? The American defense has held strong so far in the World Cup, not allowing a goal and only giving their opponents a few scoring chances. Spain is scrappy and the USWNT will recall how tough they were back in January when the two teams played. The defense is going to have to step up even more and hold the Spanish attackers at bay.
Eliminate sloppy play. Against Sweden, the team had a stretch where the play was pretty sloppy. Whether that was just mental lapses or by Swedish design, it led to a few dangerous chances for Sweden to score. Ultimately, the team was able to recover, but they can’t expect to do that against Spain and get away with it. Crystal Dunn put in work against Sweden, and hopefully she can put in another outstanding shift to help keep Spain’s wingers neutralized. If she can, that will kickstart the American attack and have Spain on their heels.
Who will be the star off the bench? The USWNT bench has been pretty good in this tournament, but they haven’t had many real opportunities to come into the game and become the star. Someone in this game will need to come off the bench and provide a late spark to hold off what would be a full Spanish attack on the goal. The only question is who head coach Jill Ellis will call upon in the 2nd half to be that hero. Maybe that person is Christen Press, who scored the only goal against Spain in January and has been very dangerous for opponents so far. Let’s see if she can be the X-factor.
What are you watching for tomorrow? Hit the comments and discuss.