After a disappointing 2017, the United States women’s national team is looking to build some positive momentum before qualifying for France 2019 starts this fall. There’s no better test than the SheBelieves Cup, which brings three of the other top-ranked teams on the planet to face the USWNT in a round-robin tournament. The U.S. starts this tournament off with Germany, ranked 2nd in the world by FIFA. This one should be good.
Key player: Emily Sonnett
Normally this would be a Washington Spirit choice, but right now I think the central defense needs to be discussed. Becky Sauerbrunn is not with the team for this tournament due to a foot injury, opening the door for Sonnett to do more than enter the game for oddball 15 minute cameos at right back.
With Jill Ellis only calling in three players who are center backs first and foremost (Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson are the others, with the latter still playing college soccer), the door is wide open for Sonnett to further cement her spot going into qualifying, and possibly even begin to compete with Dahlkemper for the starting job. If she can’t impress during this tournament, though, Ellis might start to look at some of the other top options in the NWSL and get second thoughts.
Location: Mapfre Stadium (Columbus, OH)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Projected USWNT starting 11: (433) - Alyssa Naeher; Taylor Smith, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Kelley O’Hara; Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Andi Sullivan; Mallory Pugh, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe
Bench: Ashlyn Harris, Jane Campbell, Sofia Huerta, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short, Morgan Brian, Allie Long, Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn, Savannah McCaskill, Christen Press, Lynn Williams
We are hopeful that all three Spirit players will start, but it is possible that Lloyd is chosen over Sullivan despite not really doing what midfielders do any more. This looks like the best 11 Ellis has available. The Spirit’s Rose Lavelle is still rehabbing a hamstring injury and reported to Washington’s preseason camp earlier this week.
Available TV: ESPN2
Available streaming: WatchESPN, ESPN3
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
we our friends have to say about it?: Over at Stars and Stripes FC, there’s a preview with some German lessons thrown in as a bonus.
What are you drinking?: I have a long night of more writing ahead of me, so tonight it’ll be coffee most likely.
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