The important work is done for the United States women’s national team, who like their opponent tonight have already qualified for the 2019 World Cup. However, when the USWNT faces Canada, you know the stakes are still there. Canada has a burning desire to supplant the U.S. atop Concacaf’s pecking order, but first things first they need to end a 17-year long winless run against the Americans. The USWNT, meanwhile, always seems to want to make a statement against their northern neighbor.
There may not be formal stakes here, but for these two teams, this game matters.
Location: Toyota Stadium (Frisco, TX)
Kickoff time: 8:00pm Eastern
Projected USWNT starting 11: (433) - Alyssa Naeher; Kelley O’Hara, Abby Dahlkemper, Becky Sauerbrunn, Crystal Dunn; Carli Lloyd, Samantha Mewis, Lindsey Horan; Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath
Bench: Ashlyn Harris, Emily Sonnett, Casey Short, Hailie Mace, Morgan Brian, Julie Ertz, Rose Lavelle, Megan Rapinoe, Christen Press
This isn’t the lineup that Jill Ellis fielded in the most vital games in terms of qualifying (i.e. Mexico and Jamaica), but since this is the 5th game in a qualifying tournament that lasts 13 days, look for some rotation based around injury prevention and giving some players pushing for starting jobs a chance to show what they’ve got against an opponent that might actually be a challenge.
As such, look for Mewis to replace Ertz (who took a knock against Jamaica and has been battling a back injury) and for Lloyd to step in for Lavelle. Pugh should represent the Washington Spirit, coming in for Rapinoe as part of the front three. Brian sat out training yesterday after a hard collision in the Jamaica game, so her participation might be in doubt.
Projected Canada starting 11: (433) - Stephanie Labbé; Ashley Lawrence, Rebecca Quinn, Kadeisha Buchanan, Allysha Chapman; Jessie Fleming, Sophie Schmidt, Julia Grosso; Diana Matheson, Christine Sinclair, Janine Beckie
Given how important a win here would be to Canada’s team psyche, look for Kenneth Heiner-Moller to send out his best 11. That probably includes the Spirit’s Quinn, though she could make way for former Spirit captain Shelina Zadorsky. This may end up playing as a 4141, and we could see a speedster like Nichelle Prince starting over Matheson or Beckie to give Canada a better chance on the counter.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1 (if the baseball playoffs run long, check FS2), Univision Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass, Univision Deportes
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
we our friends have to say about it?: Stars and Stripes FC has a preview that you’ll probably enjoy.
What are you drinking?: This game is going to happen during D.C. United’s game tonight, so I’ll be in the press box trying to stay warm with some coffee or green tea.
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