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USA vs. Portugal, 2023 Women’s World Cup: What to watch for

The USWNT need to come out swinging.

USA v Netherlands: Group E - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images

The United States Women’s National Team have reached the final match of the group stage at the 2023 Women’s World Cup, and they do so with some work to do to ensure that they move onto the knockout stage. They will take on Portugal tomorrow, a team in its first Women’s World Cup who is in a position to get out of the group in shocking fashion if they can get a result against the USWNT.

The USWNT arrive at this point with 4 points, beating Vietnam in their first group stage match and then drawing the Netherlands a few days ago. They sit in first place in Group E, but it’s by a slim +2 goal differential margin over the Oranje, and the Portuguese are just behind them with 3 points. This creates another pressure situation for the United States.

Only once previously have they failed to win their group at a Women’s World Cup (2011), and getting second in the group could conceivably create a tougher path to a 3rd straight World Cup title. There’s also the doomsday scenario that a loss could see the USWNT crash out of the World Cup in the group stage for the first time ever. The team has played well at times but has otherwise not looked sharp, and they’re going to have to pick up the pace against a hungry Portugal team.

Recent Form


D (1-1) - Netherlands - 2023 Women’s World Cup

W (3-0) - Vietnam - 2023 Women’s World Cup

W (2-0) - Wales - Friendly

W (1-0) - Ireland - Friendly

W (2-0) - Ireland - Friendly


W (2-0) - Vietnam - 2023 Women’s World Cup

L (0-1) - Netherlands - 2023 Women’s World Cup

L (1-2) - Norway - Unofficial Friendly

W (2-0) - Ukraine - Friendly

D (0-0) - England - Friendly


Goalkeepers (3): Aubrey Kingsbury (Washington Spirit), Casey Murphy (North Carolina Courage), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

Defenders (7): Alana Cook (OL Reign), Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns), Emily Fox (North Carolina Courage), Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave), Sofia Huerta (OL Reign), Kelley O’Hara (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Emily Sonnett (OL Reign)

Midfielders (7): Savannah DeMelo (Racing Louisville), Julie Ertz (Angel City FC), Lindsey Horan (Olympique Lyonnais), Rose Lavelle (OL Reign), Kristie Mewis (NJ/NY Gotham FC), Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit), Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit)

Forwards (6): Alex Morgan (San Diego Wave), Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign), Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit), Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns), Alyssa Thompson (Angel City FC), Lynn Williams (NJ/NY Gotham FC)

What To Watch For

Press. They need to figure out a way to keep Portugal from not having a chance to gain some confidence. That means pressing them so that the ball continues to remain on the Portuguese half of the field. The USWNT must continue to pressure Portugal into making a mistake.

Be more clinical in the offensive end. Oddly enough, the USWNT have had plenty of chances to score in this World Cup, but they haven’t been as clinical as they’ve demonstrated they could be in the past. The attackers need to put shots on frame and they need for them to be quality opportunities. Test Portugal’s keeper relentlessly.

Utilize your subs. We have 23 of the best players in the tournament on this roster. The hope is that USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski opts to use them by maximizing his subs in this match. Against the Dutch, Rose Lavelle’s entrance at the half was the only sub used by Andonovski. To keep that pressure high, fresh legs will be needed on the field late in the match.


It’s still not perfect, but a 2-0 victory is just enough for the USWNT to clinch the group.