The United States Women’s National Team begin their preparations for the Olympics when they face Mexico tomorrow in the first of two matches as part of their Send-Off Series in Hartford. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski will look to get his team ready for the rigors of the Olympic Football tournament while tinkering with his formations and rotations and how he plans to deploy the best team on the planet.
Mexico, who are ranked 28th in the FIFA World Rankings which were released on June 25th, are a team that’s steadily improving, and their team presents a formidable challenge for the USWNT. They play with energy and precision, and they’re looking to make it hard on the #1 team in the world before the USWNT takes flight for Tokyo.
The Olympic roster for the USWNT:
DEFENDERS (6): Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City), Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit), Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit)
FORWARDS (5): Tobin Heath (Unattached), Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Unattached), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign)
ALTERNATES: Jane Campbell (Houston Dash), Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars), Catarina Macario (Lyon), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage)
What To Watch For
How much will Tobin Heath play? Julie Ertz is not expected to appear tomorrow as she recovers from injury, but we will likely see the first of Tobin Heath in a USWNT jersey in 2021. Heath, who also has been recovering from an ankle injury sustained at Manchester United, looks to be ready to get some minutes as she dials up her fitness for the Olympics. Will we see her for an extended period of time, or will any appearance from her be just a cameo?
How aggressive will the high press be? Storms are forecast for Thursday, so the high press could be tricky should the weather indeed be wet. Still, Andonovski will want to see how his high press will work against a team that is aggressive on the ball and who wants to quickly possess the ball and move it downfield. With 18 players in the Olympics, he’ll look to see how often he can turn up the intensity and when he has to dial it back.
Keep focus. Eyes on the prize. The USWNT needs to work on the things they know they will need to improve if they are going to win the gold medal, and that should be their focus. Keep up the intensity and the stellar play that has carried them this far, but continue to hone in on the details and don’t lose sight of the goal: winning gold in Tokyo.
The wet weather will keep the fireworks on the field at bay, and it will be a slow affair. However, the USWNT break through with a couple of goals to beat Mexico by a familiar scoreline: 2-0.