Sunday brings another friendly for the United States women’s national team, the first of four in three weeks. June 2015 – when the World Cup begins – is over 18 months away, far enough out the U.S. coach Tom Sermanni conceivably has time for some experimenting.
But the purpose of Sunday (1:30 p.m. ET on NBC) in San Antonio, Texas, along with the next two games against New Zealand and another in November against Brazil, is continuity despite down time.
“I think it’s more a continuation of how we’ve been trying to play,” Sermanni said of the purpose of these four matches. “The big factor in this Australian game is that we haven’t been together for a little bit. We’ve kind of got players going in and out of camp. We haven’t had a lot of preparation, so I think one thing in this game, as opposed to some of our other games, is that we are having deal with a lack of preparation. It hasn’t quite been as thorough as it has been in the previous games we’ve played. It will be interesting to see how we can win. And I think that’s a good thing.”
That likely means the usual, productive cast of players in the front six, though experimenting defensively will carry over. Stephanie Cox is in her first U.S. camp in almost 18 months and could see time at left back, while FC Kansas City’s Leigh Ann Robinson is back after earning her first cap in September’s 7-0 win over Mexico. Crystal Dunn is likely to see time as well, given previous success and the fact that she will only be with the team for Sunday’s match.
So the back four will be what to watch on Sunday against the No. 8-ranked Matildas, who feature four players from the 2013 NWSL season (Lisa De Vanna, Sam Kerr, Kyah Simon and Emily van Egmond – Caitlin Foord is injured).
But it’s also a peculiar situation for Sermanni, who coached Australia up until this time last year in his second stint in charge of the team, which lasted seven years.
“It’s going to be really strange, because obviously I had a lot of attachment to the team,” he said of Australia. “Almost everyone – not everyone, but almost everyone – at some stage I got into the team.”
Whether or not Sermanni’s inside knowledge is an advantage or disadvantage remains to be seen.
“It’s probably a bit of both. You know what some players can do, but you also sort of know where there may be a little advantage on the things you may be able to exploit a little bit.”
“Hopefully [Australia] don’t play too well on Sunday,” the jovial Scotsman said with a laugh.