USWNT ready to get on the pitch against Colombia

dunn scores

by TOM SLATER 

Entering the fourth month of 2016, the United States Women’s National Team is currently undefeated, having won nine games and two tournaments, all while scoring 32 goals and conceding just one.

Not a bad resume thus far with the Olympics just a few months off.

Next up is a two-game series against Colombia and Lady Andrade — a team that gave the Americans fits in the round of 16 knockout stage of the 2015 Women’s World Cup. The Americans struggled with Colombia before registering a 2-0 win on goals from Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan.

The first game will take place on April 6 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Conn. (7 p.m. ET on FS1) followed by a rematch four days later on April 10 at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pa. (2 p.m. ET on FS1).

The match in Philadelphia is sold out while 20,000 tickets have been sold for the Connecticut match.

The games will help keep the discussion on the field and less on the legal goings-on as five current players have filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission for equal pay.

It’s hard to figure what United States coach Jill Ellis will do with this two-game set, but she may continue to tweak the lineup in certain spots. She should be continuing to develop relationships between players — such as Morgan and Lloyd and sorting out the Christian Press/Crystal Dunn situation.

The roster is pretty similar to the one used at the SheBelieves Cup. Ellis left off Lauren Barnes, who didn’t see any action in the SheBelieves Cup, and brought up Portland’s Allie Long for this tournament. She asked another teenager — Ashley Sanchez — to join the senior side for the two games.

The SheBelieves Cup also saw defenders Whitney Engen and Emily Sonnett get increased playing time. They could be competing for the backup defender spot in the middle.

Don’t be surprised if Hope Solo gets a day off. Ellis could play either Ashlyn Harris or Alyssa Naeher in net to get some backup experience before Rio.

And this could be the last chance for popular outside midfielder Heather O’Reilly. She’ll be playing virtually in her backyard in both Connecticut and Philadelphia. But she didn’t get off the bench in the three-game SheBelieves Cup. And she wasn’t picked for the Olympic Qualifying Tournament either. The play of Dunn and teenage sensation Mallory Pugh have put O’Reilly on the sidelines thus far. Unless she gets some playing time, this could be the last hurrah for the New Jersey native.

And for a bonus, there should be a skills competition between Andrade and Tobin Heath. Both are known for their 1 v 1 moves. They didn’t do much in the Women’s World Cup but with less pressure in these two friendlies, fans could see some of the fancy moves on display.