The USMNT is back in action in the first of two April friendlies against Russia. These two games will give Jill Ellis more time to experiment with her lineups, after her choices in the SheBelieves Cup went so definitely wrong. The back three will be subject to extra scrutiny, because playing both Allie Long and Becky Sauerbrunn out of position doesn’t do much for either of them. For better or for worse, the midfield will still be built around Carli Lloyd, with everyone else’s positions radiating out from there. The results shouldn’t be in much question in these games, but how they get there will be key.
Key player: Rose Lavelle
The rookie has yet to play a regular season game for the Boston Breakers, but has already begun to make her impact on the USWNT. After playing wide in the SheBelieves Cup, she should have the opportunity to move back into her preferred central midfield spot. The team is strong with central mifielders like Carli Lloyd, Lindsey Horan, Morgan Brian, Sam Mewis, and more, and if Lavelle can make her mark she may be able to force Jill Ellis to keep her on the field.
But experiments are nothing without new data, so I would like to see Ellis look for some of that in targeted situations. Perhaps let Sauerbrunn play centrally with either Washington Spirit alum of Ali Krieger or Megan Oyster on the right. Perhaps let Rose Lavelle move up into Carli Lloyd's spot late in the game. Try things, but put players in their best spots to succeed.
Location: Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)
Kickoff time: 8:30 Eastern
Projected USWNT starting 11: (3-5-2)- Alyssa Naeher; Becky Sauerbrunn, Allie Long, Casey Short; Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis; Crystal Dunn, Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh; Christen Press, Alex Morgan
Bench: Jane Campbell, Ashlyn Harris, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelley O’Hara, Megan Oyster, Jaelin Howell, Megan Rapinoe, Kealia Ohai, Amy Rodriguez, Sophia Smith, Lynn Williams
Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, and Lindsey Horan are all not on this roster due to injuries: Brian has a minor knee strain, Horan has a hip flexor issue, and Heath has a back strain.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1
Available streaming: Fox Soccer 2 Go, Fox Sports Go
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
What are you drinking?: As Spring flourishes, I like my bourbon drinks to reflect that; I will probably go with a Bee’s Knees.
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