The United States Women’s National Team faces Colombia in Group C action on Sunday at noon Eastern. The Americans are coming off of 2-0 win over North Korea and Colombia opened the tournament with a decent showing in a 1-0 loss to Sweden. Here are five questions leading into Saturday’s match.
1. Will Lori Lindsey get the nod? Pia Sundhage is saying that Lori Lindsey could start in the center of the park in place of Carli Lloyd or Shannon Boxx. ESPN is reporting that Lindsey practiced with the starting team on Friday and Shannon Boxx did not. In complete honesty, I’m not sure that I have a preference between the two for Saturday’s match-up. Lindsey has a better short passing game and would compliment Lloyd well. Whereas Lloyd likes to take shots from the outside and push forward, Lindsey is more of a possession midfielder who will find feet. Boxx is an 18-to-18, hard working ball winner. Whoever Sundhage goes with on Saturday will likely be given a trial run for Wednesday’s match against Sweden.
2. Can Lauren Cheney cement a starting spot? Cheney showed well against North Korea and scored the United States’ opening goal. She was active all night but was better when she drifted into the center of the park. She does not provide much wing play, but Cheney does give the U.S. a unique 4-3-3 look, in theory anyway. Abby Wambach showed on Tuesday that she is willing to drift outside and fill the role of some of that necessary wide play for the U.S. For at least the last 45 minutes on Tuesday, the U.S. made it work.
3. Full 90? – Speaking of a good second half, can the United States put together a full 90 minutes of good quality soccer? France did so in a 4-0 win over Canada on Thursday and Japan followed that up with a 4-0 victory over Mexico. Can the U.S. make it three straight days of blowouts? Maybe, but most importantly the U.S. needs to show up ready to play from the opening kickoff. The Americans have struggled recently in the opening minutes of matches.
4. Does Colombia stand a chance? Colombia surprisingly showed well against Sweden on Tuesday, but it lacks the necessary decision making to finish in the final third. The Colombians are crafty and technical but a bit overly fancy. Can Yoreli Rincon live up to the hype? Carmen Rodallega was Colombia’s best player against Sweden and she will need to have another good match on the left flank to help Colombia stay in this game.
5. Drama or no? Group A is decided after just two rounds of play. Japan is through from Group B and it looks like England likely will be also. Will Group C face the same fate? Victories by Sweden and the United States would seal the fate of this group. Can Group C make Wednesday, the final day of group play, interesting? For the sake of some drama and suspense, let’s hope so. That likely means North Korea getting a result against Sweden.
Also be sure to check out my piece at Fox Soccer talking about young stars to watch in this tournament. There are several U.S. players on the list.
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