Preview: USWNT face Switzerland as Algarve Cup Continues

lloyd hug

by MC BOUSQUETTE
Staff Writer

The next test for the US Women’s National Team will come Friday against Switzerland as the Algarve Cup marches on.

The United States, coming off a 2-1 victory over Norway, has been on an upward performance trend. They have won their last two matches, first taking down England 1-0 and then besting Norway 2-1.

When the two squads last faced off in August 2014, United States beat the Swiss handily, with a final score of 4-1.  Despite that result, Switzerland is still a force to be reckoned with as they head towards their first-ever World Cup. Striker Ramona Bachmann is an offensive powerhouse, and is sure to be aided by Olympique Lyon midfielder Lara Dickenmann; both of whom have won several titles with their clubs. These two are a threat as leaders of a very young, aggressive Swiss squad who are just coming off a 2-0 victory over Iceland.

Carli Lloyd was an absolute force against Norway with her brace, lifting the USWNT to victory. Expect to see more productive results out of her tomorrow. Ali Krieger, with her multi-faceted work up and down the field, stood out in particular as she adjusted well to the pressure placed on her, as Christen Press and Lloyd played down the middle. Her set-ups and shots will be important to creating opportunities, though the midfield and forwards have been incrementally increasing their joint collaboration in offensive efforts.

The USWNT need Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach to be explosive and lead from the front. After being battered by the Norwegian defense in a relatively quiet first half for her, Morgan was forced to be resilient and creative before she was able to get targeted shots off. Wambach exited the game, perhaps to preserve herself for a start tomorrow, at the beginning of the second half. It was unclear whether it was her stamina or Coach Jill Ellis’ lineup experimentation that led to Amy Rodriguez replacing Wambach in the second half.

A key choice to watch will be whether Ellis chooses to start Lori Chalupny or Meghan Klingenberg. Chalupny, with a somewhat lethargic first half, left the game in the 51st minute, and was replaced by Klingenberg, whose ability to play defensively at midfield was a noticeable differentiator.

If Ellis continues to change things around, Tobin Heath could appear in midfield to start the game instead of Christen Press.  That of course would be a surprise since the midfield has remained the same for the last three games with Carli Lloyd on the right, Lauren Holiday and Morgan Brian in the center, and Press on the left.

Given her strong return, Hope Solo is likely to start in goal. She got her legs back quickly, and the single goal that Norway managed against the US was a defensive error rather than any fault of Solo’s own. The US were defensively teaming up on individual players in small groups, which proved to be an effective technique against the aggressive Norwegian offensive yesterday, and should continue to be useful Friday.

Despite their increasing success, the USWNT still have many of the same issues looming as they have in previous bouts. Defender Christie Rampone didn’t play at all against Norway, and midfielder Megan Rapinoe didn’t enter the game until the 91st minute. The late substitution that put recovering forward Sydney Leroux in for Alex Morgan in the last ten minutes of the match is another indicator that either these players are not fully recovered — or that Ellis is exercising extreme caution in their reintegration to the lineup.

The additional choice to play Lloyd and Press up the middle, forcing the outside backs Krieger and Chalupny (or Klingenberg) to work incredibly hard defensively and offensively, puts a burden on these backs’ fitness. They may make it through Friday’s match without issue, but the ability to play this lineup for several games in a row could lead to defensive burnout.

In order to prove that they are continuing on the road back to top form, the US squad need to hit their stride and emerge with a sound victory tomorrow.

USA face off against Switzerland tomorrow at 12pm EST on Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports Go.

  • Tony Geinzer

    If the Algarve is of increasing urgency , and most Soccer and Women’s Sports Fans thumb their nose in indifference at Algarve vs. The World Cup, and 1999 was 16 Years Ago that was the best Sports Day then when our Women won the World Cup, I think USA Soccer is in a cultural funk.