Another year, another SheBelieves. This year’s opponents are England, Spain, and Japan, a great lineup as part of their Olympic prep. First up: England, who may or may not have an axe to grind after the 2019 World Cup.
Both England players and their head coach, Phil Neville, have spoken about how much they want to beat the United States. Neville in particular has emphasized SheBelieves results, which is fair to the extent that it does simulate the group stage of a tournament, and against top tier opponents. But there the similarities end, given that these are all technically friendlies, and there is no knockout to plan for. Roster management gets to end after three games and there’s way more room for experimentation.
So regardless of Neville’s plans, his US counterpart, Vlatko Andonovski, will probably be leaning more towards the experimentation side of the table. That doesn’t necessarily mean mixing up his roster, though. It could mean seeing if players like Lynn Williams and Andi Sullivan can show him consistent quality performances. Williams in particular blasted the competition to smithereens during Concacaf Olympic qualifying, but given the quality of the general opposition they faced, this is the perfect time for her to put an emphatic exclamation mark on her place in the starting lineup.
Mal Pugh is back as well, and assuming she gets playing time - a pretty strong assumption, given Andonovski brought her back in in the first place - she’ll certainly be itching to show she can provide depth to the forward pool. The issue here is that Christen Press and Lynn Williams have both made serious cases as wide attackers in the starting XI, and right behind them are Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Pugh will really have to elbow her way in there, or demonstrate some depth at being able to rotate into another position as needed.
DEFENDERS (8): 7-Abby Dahlkemper (North Carolina Courage; 58/0), 12-Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 25/1), 19-Crystal Dunn (North Carolina Courage; 101/24), 11-Ali Krieger (Orlando Pride; 107/1), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC; 129/2), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 174/0), 20-Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 31/0), 14-Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride; 44/0)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 99/19), 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 83/18), 16-Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 42/12), 3-Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage; 64/18), 6-Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit; 16/0)
FORWARDS (7): 17-Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 165;33), 10-Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 291/122), 22-Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage; 17/4), 23-Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 134/56), 2-Mallory Pugh (Sky Blue FC; 62/18), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC; 165/51), 13-Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 25/9)
Time, TV schedule, and streaming
USA vs England
Thursday, March 5
7 PM ET / 4 PM PT
ESPN2, TUDN, Fubo (free trial)
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