The United States will play an international friendly against the Netherlands this long holiday weekend. There’s warring senses at play - it’s hard to care about a friendly - indeed, any sports - at a time when coronavirus cases in the US continue to rise and will undoubtedly rise further after a weekend of traveling and gathering together, but in such a crappy year, there’s a real desire to hold on to the things that make us happy.
There’s also something of a ticking clock; this was supposed to be an Olympic year, but now with the games pushed to 2021 and things still looking dicey for the USWNT to get meaningful competitive games, whether traveling abroad or inviting teams here, surely the coaching staff will try to wring every last drop out of this meeting.
Some roster notes: Catarina Macario has not been approved by FIFA to play for the US yet, and will not be available for the 18-player gameday roster.
In a media call to preview the game, Vlatko Andonovksi also said that it was likely he would play Alex Morgan, although he and the staff do not consider her 90-minute fit just yet. But that’s not a situation unique to Morgan; Andonovski also said that while the team would be doing everything possible to win, “We know that we’re nowhere close to our best from the tactical perspective, nowhere close to our best in our physical preparation. Not even technical and mental preparation. Obviously we’ve been off for so many months, first game after a while. Some players haven’t touched the ball for almost a year, some players haven’t touched the ball for six months. We have literally only a few players that are 90 minutes ready.”
This could be Andonovski hedging his bets somewhat, given Christen Press, Tobin Heath, Sam Mewis, and Emily Sonnett have all had good club minutes recently. Rose Lavelle would count among them, except she was held out of a Man City match less than a week ago due to a “slight knock” in training.
Andonovski added, “We knew coming into this camp that were going to have to take a step back before we take two steps forward. And part of the reason is the big gap between the games, but we had to take a couple of days to rehearse some of the things and repeat some of the things before we start adding the new layers.”
What does that mean tactically? Obviously some things will depend on the final 18 in the roster, 17 of whom will probably get to play given the six allowed subs and Andonvoski’s comments during the call about not getting to see his players on the field for eight months.
As for the Oranje side of things, Netherlands star Vivanne Miedema is unavailable for this game due to a hip injury. Their available roster is below:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Lize Kop (Ajax), Sari van Veenendaal (PSV), Daphne van Domselaar (FC Twente)
DEFENDERS (8): Stefanie van der Gragt (Ajax), Dominique Janssen (Wolfsburg, GER), Kika van Es (Twente), Merel van Dongen (Atlético Madrid, ESP), Danique Kerkdijk (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Aniek Nouwen (PSV), Lynn Wilms (Twente)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Sherida Spitse (Vålerenga, NOR), Daniëlle van de Donk (Arsenal, ENG), Jackie Groenen (Manchester United, ENG), Inessa Kaagman (Brighton & Hove Albion, ENG), Victoria Pelova (Ajax)
FORWARDS (8): Lieke Martens (Barcelona, ESP), Shanice van de Sanden (Wolfsburg, GER), Lineth Beerensteyn (Bayern Munich, GER), Renate Jansen (Twente), Sisca Folkertsma (Twente), Katja Snoeijs (Bordeaux, FRA), Jill Roord (Arsenal, ENG), Joëlle Smits (PSV)
A lot of these players have gotten much more time and much more recently with their clubs but they may end up having the same issues that everyone else has after a long absence from international duty, leveling out the playing field in terms of executing any game plan at least.
USA vs Netherlands
Friday, November 27
12:35 PM ET / 9:35 AM PT