The United States Women’s National Team have made it to the Round of 16, but it was not in the convincing fashion that most fans are used to. The USWNT failed to win their group for just the 2nd time in Women’s World Cup history with draws against the Netherlands and Portugal to add to an opening match victory over Vietnam.
Tomorrow, they face Sweden, who won Group G in convincing fashion, winning all 3 of their matches over South Africa, Italy, and Argentina. They’ve looked great in winning those games too, with their height causing every team fits on set pieces. The USWNT, on the other hand, were literally a goalpost bounce away from going home against Portugal, but they have a second life in the knockout stage and it’s time to make the most of it.
Death, taxes, and playing Sweden. Those three things seem to be certain, as these two teams have a long history of playing each other in Women’s World Cups. They have played each other in all but 2 Women’s World Cup (1995, 1999), including the two teams’ first ever World Cup match in 1991. They had been grouped together in the previous 3 tournaments, and most thought that this was the one where they may not face each other. However, USA-Sweden remains a certainty, allowing this traditional battle to have another chapter.
D (0-0) - Portugal - 2023 Women’s World Cup
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) - Argentina - 2023 Women’s World Cup
W (5-0) - Italy - 2023 Women’s World Cup
W (2-1) - South Africa - 2023 Women’s World Cup
W (5-1) - Philippines - Unofficial Friendly
D (3-3) - Norway - 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
Urgency. The USWNT didn’t show any urgency against Portugal, and it showed. It felt like late in the match they weren’t pushing for a goal, but rather hoping to not concede one. Sweden’s going to go right at them, and they’re not afraid. The USWNT have to meet that intensity and add some urgency, because they can’t find themselves going home because they didn’t push for it.
Connect passes. Passing for the USWNT has been bad at times, particularly against the Netherlands and Portugal. The team didn’t seem to have any consistency or flow, and errant passes led to breaks going the other way. A renewed focus on connecting passes with teammates should be the key here.
Play like the champions you are. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, and the USWNT have held the crown for 8 years. It’s time for them to play like the champions that we know they are and can be on the field. Fight through the pressure, the chippiness, the physicality, and the responsibility of being the champions, and hopefully they can get back to playing like the team that has dominated the world for the past decade.
USWNT 2, Sweden 1. LFG.