The United States Women’s National Team are two matches into the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and while they currently lead the group with 4 points and a +2 goal differential, they’ve left themselves with a bit of work to do. Despite a 3-0 victory over Vietnam in match 1 and a 1-1 draw against the Netherlands in match 2, the USWNT are in need of a result against Portugal in order to punch their ticket to the knockout stage.
Against the Netherlands, a game that mimicked the Vietnam contest in being physical, USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski only opted for using one sub in the match, bringing on Rose Lavelle at halftime to replace Savannah DeMelo. Andonovski has also opted to use the exact same starting lineup for the first two matches, leading to fears that some of those starters could become gassed after two matches of physical play.
Left on the bench for the first two matches was Lynn Williams, who had been someone who featured heavily for the USWNT since Vlatko Andonovski took over as coach back in 2019. The 30-year-old forward has returned from a leg injury that kept her out for almost all of 2022 to be one of the best goal scorers in the NWSL this season. She also has been terrific on the USWNT, perfectly executing Vlatko Andonovski’s desired high press when she’s on the field and creating and also scoring a goal against New Zealand in a friendly earlier this year.
With the injury to Mallory Swanson in April that ruled her out of the Women’s World Cup, Williams once again was counted on to serve as that player who could create goals while also providing constant pressure on opposing defenders who dared try to play the ball out of the back. However, through 2 matches at the World Cup, we haven’t seen #6 on the field. When Vlatko Andonovski was asked about his decision not to use any subs beyond Rose Lavelle entering at the half against the Dutch, he mentioned that Williams was “top of mind.”
Asked Vlatko about the lack of subs affecting rhythm of game and if he considered Lynn Williams for the second half; response was that he was concerned a substitute could take a minute or two to adjust but Williams was top of mind. #USWNT— Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) July 27, 2023
That created no solace for fans of Lynn Williams, who argued across social media that having her on the field could have helped create a game-winning goal for the United States late in the match.
It’s time to let Lynn Williams loose to play, and the Portugal match is a perfect chance to put her in the position on the field where she can thrive. Portugal is going to try and open up the match so they can have opportunities to score and increase their chances of an upset. Having Williams on the field will put pressure on Portugal’s defense, making them tighten up a bit and, perhaps, forcing them into a mistake that the USWNT can turn into a goal. She can also create goals and, when called upon, finish them, and she can do it while pushing the opposing defense to exhaustion so that when subs enter the match, the USWNT will have even more options to run behind a tired team to put more points on the board.
It’s important for the USWNT to get out hot against Portugal, and having Lynn Williams in the lineup is a great way of helping that happen. It’s important for Vlatko Andonovski to bring her off the bench and into the game where she can play her game and cause the Portuguese defense fits. Her presence on the field could help the USWNT move onto the knockout stage instead of hanging on the edge of destruction and an early trip home from Aotearoa.