The United States Women’s National Team kicks off their second annual SheBelieves Cup against last year’s runner-ups Germany. In last year’s tournament, the host team swept the tournament with three wins. Their overall victory came after their 2-1 win over Germany, goals from Alex Morgan and Sam Mewis. This time, the USWNT will need to start strong, seeing as their opponents have most recently claimed the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Fresh start for USWNT
After their worst Olympic performance in program history, the USWNT has begun a completely new cycle. Gone are some of the familiar old faces of the team and in are the new, younger generation. Their roster for this tournament itself is a testament to this. Injecting new faces to the team will certainly help the USA in regards to creating a new identity, but experience may come into play here as well, seeing as six of the rostered players are participating in their first SheBelieves Cup - three of which are uncapped by the USWNT.
The starting lineup for the USWNT - including the goalkeeping position - will be an interesting mix no matter what. Head coach Jill Ellis will surely be experimenting with certain combinations in all position of the field. It will be imperative for the U.S. to adjust quickly and remain calm on the field. Leaders such as Becky Sauerbrunn and Carli Lloyd will be key in maintaining possession and keeping calm throughout the match. Newcomers like first overall draft pick Rose Lavelle and Lynn Williams could possibly prove themselves as lethal parts of the new USWNT attack if given the opportunity by Ellis.
Germany coming in strong
This tournament will be somewhat of a warm up for the 2016 Olympic gold medalists, who are preparing for the 2017 Euros coming this summer. However, a few of their key players are missing for this tournament. Lena Goeßling and Melanie Leupolz are still recovering from injury while Simone Laudher and Tabea Kemme have recently suffered injury. This gives opportunities for other players to step up for Germany.
Utilizing the flanks as well as their midfield will be key for Germany. Sara Däbritz of Bayern Munich has been known to wreak havoc as a winger, and could possibly cause the USWNT plenty of problems if she’s on her game. What the USWNT really need to watch out for is attacking midfielder Dzsenifer Marozsán. She’s had an impressive season so far with Lyon, and can be a nightmare for the USWNT line of defense if not marked carefully.
The USWNT faces Germany at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania on Wednesday, March 1. The game will air on Fox Sports 1 and kick off at 7 pm Eastern Time.