World Cup qualifying is just six months away for the United States, which likely informs tonight’s friendly against Mexico. While the USWNT manages to play Canada three or four times a year every year, they often don’t get to see the rest of their opponents in CONCACAF. Mexico can be a tricky opponent when it comes to qualifying, though, and they’re the last team to get a result against the U.S. in that setting.
As such, it’s probably a good idea to get a feel for more than just Canada, because that loss saw the USWNT have to win a third place game to qualify for a playoff to get into the 2011 World Cup. The margins are that thin, and being surprised in that fashion again is unacceptable.
Key player: Crystal Dunn
There’s a lot of talk right now about Dunn playing fullback, which seems like a misallocation of resources at best. Dunn is a wonderful player who thrives with freedom; left back doesn’t really allow for much freedom. While the U.S. is clearly having its depth tested due to injuries to Kelley O’Hara and Casey Short, there are numerous natural fullbacks being ignored or discarded while Dunn is also not getting a chance to compete at her actual best positions.
In any case, this appears to be the USWNT’s fate under Ellis right now, so it’s important to see whether Dunn can make lemonade out of these lemons. There’s a growing chance that she gets locked into a utility role simply because the World Cup is not all that far away. Can she succeed? Well, I wouldn’t bet against Crystal Dunn doing well in any position, even if in this case it’s merely a satisfactory fix to an avoidable problem that isn’t her fault.
Location: Everbank Field (Jacksonville, FL)
Kickoff time: 7:00pm Eastern
Outside of Dunn being miscast as a fullback, the big thing to watch here is whether Davidson — who outplayed Dahlkemper in recent friendlies — will get a shot playing alongside Sauerbrunn. We’re also keeping our eyes on Sullivan and Pugh, of course, and there’s a decent chance Hatch gets some minutes to relieve Morgan at the #9.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, Univision Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Univision Deportes app
For listings in other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.
we our friends have to say about it?: The preview at Stars and Stripes FC delves into the fullback issue, including some talk about Huerta, who appeared for Mexico in non-competitive play before getting FIFA’s approval to play for the U.S.
What are you drinking?: I think I’ll have myself a margarita. Is it a nod to the opponent, or just that I really like tequila? Let’s call it both.
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