The United States Women’s National Team are back, as they hit the field for the first time since leaving the 2020 Olympics with a bronze medal. They face Paraguay in the first of two matches against the South American club tomorrow at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
The USWNT will bring in most of the roster that we saw in Japan, with a couple additions in Sophia Smith and Andi Sullivan. It also marks the beginning of the end of the career of Carli Lloyd, who announced her retirement after the matches next month. The USWNT will look to get back on track by taking care of a Paraguay side that they haven’t seen much but can be a difficult opponent to face.
What To Watch For
Get the offense clicking again. The American offense was stagnant for large stretches during the Olympics. Without Christen Press or Megan Rapinoe in the fold along, people will need to step up to create the offense. These are the games where you can work on things like spacing and set pieces, and we’ll need to make sure the offense will flow no matter who is on the field.
Pressure defense. The defense needs to be more aggressive at cleaning up the garbage and getting the ball back downfield instead of letting their opponent come at them and dictate the pace. The defense was shaky during the Olympic tournament, and they need to show signs that they’ve figured out how to tighten the back line up and mark players in the defensive third.
Begin the evaluation process. Who can Vlatko Andonovski rely on when World Cup qualifying begins next summer? That question begins to be answered now, as the coach must start the evaluation process of all players. There will be some hard choices, including potential saying goodbye to some legends of our sport. But, those choices must be done, including which players we can reintroduce into the fold once these fall matches are done.
The USWNT are going to make this a pretty easy evening on the shores of Lake Erie. They score early and don’t look back in a 4-0 victory.