Puerto Rico match a formality for United States squad

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by TOM SLATER

If you want to see a barrage of goals and some of the United States Women’s National Team players who haven’t hit the field lately, tonight’s CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match between the Americans and Puerto Rico is for you.

Puerto Rico is young and inexperienced. They have given up 15 goals in two matches versus teams that are inferior to the United States squad. In fact, they are probably inferior to an entire team made up of United States reserve players. This is their first foray into a tournament format with the likes of USA, Canada and Mexico.

The United States, on the other hand, is in the semi-finals already. They’ll play either Trinidad and Tobago or Guyana in Friday’s semifinals. They’re going to rest some key starters but those coming onto the pitch will be making the case to get more playing time down the road and make the final Olympic Squad.

It’s a recipe for a high-scoring affair that should be over quickly.

The United States also wants to prove that the 1-0 win over Mexico was just a blip on the radar. Those games happen. And now let’s get on with it.

The game will be shown live on NBC Sports at 8:30 p.m. (EST).

Although this final Bracket A game will lack suspense, it won’t lack storylines.

Will Christen Press start? Why was Crystal Dunn taken out after just 45 minutes against Mexico? This is the one position that seems to be open for the United States. Press has the goal of the tournament against Costa Rica and Dunn also scored in the first half. Dunn didn’t have a great game against Mexico but she did force Mexican goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago into a diving save in the first half. Press seemed to energize the field when she came on at half. And she nearly put the US ahead when she hit the post. Look for Press to start.

With midfield pressure from Puerto Rico sure to be non-existent, Tobin Heath and Lindsey Horan will have the room to penetrate both inside and outside. Also watch the two outside backs – Ali Kreiger and Meghan Klingenberg are the starters – make run and after run on the flanks.

Maybe we’ll even see Ashlyn Harris in goal although Hope Solo can’t be worn out making less than five saves in two games.

But no matter who starts or who comes on as a substitute, it’s hard to read much into this game. Except it will be one-sided.