The United States Women’s Soccer Team (USWNT) is set to tackle Australia’s Matildas in their last Group G game on July 27 at 2 a.m. MT. The U.S. sits in second place in the Group B standings with three points, tied with Australia. A win or tie guarantees them a spot Quarterfinals that start on Friday, July 30. The USA could still potentially get through to knockout rounds even with a loss, via one of two third-place berths to the Quarterfinal round.
According to U.S. Soccer media relations, the winner of Group G will face the third-place finisher from Group E or F in Saitama, Japan. The second-place team in Group G will face the winner of Group F at International Stadium Yokohama (Nissan Stadium) in Kanagawa. Should a third-place team from Group G pass through to the knockout round, they will face the winner of Group E in Kashima.
The Lady Yanks are coming off of a resounding and absolutely-needed win over New Zealand. The 6-1 victory marked the USA’s highest-scoring outcome ever in an Olympic match play. The team regrouped and played near-perfect football after their 3-0 drubbing to a swarming Sweden side just days before.
During his post-New Zealand match interview, a relieved Vlatko Andonovski, USWNT head coach, said “Obviously, we came with the mindset to win, with the mindset to score goals and we accomplished that. But as soon as that happened we didn’t have time or want to celebrate because we wanted to focus on the next game, and that has been our main focus since the game ended.”
The always optimistic gaffer added, “In terms of the mentality, the players have done an incredible job reevaluating the mentality. They’ve done an incredible job getting back to our roots, to who we are. Obviously myself, I do just a little bit of that to remind them of what it is it can look like if we’re not prepared if we’re not ready mentally for the game... There are things we could do better. There are certainly little things I would like to see better. We have already addressed it. We haven’t had a lot of time to work on it but hopefully, we can do some more.”
Some of the “better” that Andonovski was referring to was the play of his midfielders who were out of sync, if not overwhelmed, during their game with Sweden. In the match with New Zealand, he returned to his tried-and-true trio of Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, and Rose Lavelle to lead his team’s box-to-box play. And the threesome did just that. Ertz showed no signs of issues with fitness or lingering issues with her strained knee. She played hardball throughout the match and delivered two assists. Wingers Horan and Lavelle flew up and down the pitch. Both scored as well.
Lavelle spoke of the team’s mindset and foundational pride during her post-match meeting with members of the media. “I think that first game we knew that one of the things we pride ourselves in our mentality, and it was very lacking,” she admitted. “I think we feel like although the loss obviously sucks, it is a bit of a blessing in disguise to get the loss in early on in the tournament and we know we have no room for error. It’s just bringing that same energy we had against New Zealand and elevating it even more and continuing to build and learn and then get ready for the next [game].”
Rush Colorado alumni Lindsey Horan was back to her world-class form after a disappointing performance with Sweden. Against New Zealand, she was moved to her preferred left midfielder position. She had been playing very admirably in the center-mid position since Ertz sustained her injury.
Horan is gifted with a great vision of the pitch. Her ability to find open players and gaps, then play the ball in, is unparalleled. When she moves upfield, both just behind or ahead of the strikers, she adds another dimension to the Stars and Stripes offense. That style of play was clearly evident during the New Zealand match. Horan will need to start where she left off against a solid Aussie team that ranks 9th in the FIFA tables.
The Australians are led by Chelsea’s Sam Kerr. With 45 international goals in 95 caps, she is the leading scorer on the Matildas’ Olympic roster. Expect the two-way, defensive-minded Horan to mark Kerr throughout the game and be an occasional thorn in her side.
Team USA holds a 26-1-3 record over the Australian side. It is worthy to note that over the last three games with Australia, the USA has a record of 1-1-1. All three of the recent matches have been decided by two or fewer goals.
Australia beat the USA for the first time on June 27, 2018 in a 1-0 victory in Seattle, Washington. The teams tied 1-1 on June 29, 2018 in East Hartford, Connecticut, but the USA picked up a rousing win in the most recent meeting, a 5-3 triumph on April 4, 2019, at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado.
USWNT OLYMPIC WOMEN’S SOCCER ROSTER BY POSITION (CAPS/GOALS)
DEFENDERS (7): 17-Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City, ENG; 73/0), 12-Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars; 36/1), 2-Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns FC; 118/24), 20-Casey Krueger (Chicago Red Stars; 35/0), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Washington Spirit; 141/2), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns FC; 189/0), 14-Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit; 57/0)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 8-Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 112/20), 9-Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 100/23), 16-Rose Lavelle (OL Reign; 58/15), 19-Catarina Macario (Olympique Lyon, FRA; 8/1), 6-Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash; 27/4), 3-Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage; 79/23)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Tobin Heath (Unattached; 173/35), 10-Carli Lloyd (NJ/NY Gotham FC; 308/126), 13-Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 182/111), 11-Christen Press (Unattached; 151/64), 15-Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign; 181/59), Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage; 37/11)