For the first time in years, the United States Women’s National Team are in a must-win situation with their backs against the wall. The defending World Cup champions enter their match tomorrow against New Zealand desperately needing a win to stay in the thick of things in Group G at the Olympics. Their 3-0 loss to Sweden on Wednesday was a rude wake up call, and it will be on head coach Vlatko Andonovski to make the adjustments necessary for the team to play to its capability.
For New Zealand, they’re also looking for a win to stay in the hunt after losing to Australia in their first match. A win for the Ferns could all but send the USWNT home, while a win for the USWNT would put them back in the race and leave New Zealand on the outside looking in.
What To Watch For
Who will be dominant in the midfield? Against Sweden, the American midfield completely lost the battle, and it was the real difference. They have to know that New Zealand watched the tape of how the Swedish midfield dominated the battle in the middle and it was one of the main reasons why they took the USWNT out. Now, the Americans need to do that same thing to New Zealand, and the midfielders who start need to know that it’s on them to dictate the pace of the game and leave no doubt that they are the gamechangers.
Deploy the high press. This could be a match for Lynn Williams to be on the wing to ensure the high press remains constant and aggressive. The forwards need to do work, getting the ball back and turning right around to push down the field. They should want the Ferns to wilt under the pressure, but they have to bring it for 90 minutes.
Play with urgency. There is no tomorrow for the team that loses this match, so the USWNT need to play with the urgency that is required. The intensity needs to be exceeded, the execution needs to be on point, and the team needs to reassert themselves.
The USWNT get busy early and keep it going throughout the match, and they make sure New Zealand doesn’t have a prayer from the opening whistle. The USWNT recover with a 4-0 victory.