CARY, N.C. — The U.S. women’s national team finds itself in unusual territory heading into the match against Switzerland. While the Americans have played a considerable number of games in the team’s 29-year history, Wednesday’s game in Cary, N.C. will mark the team’s first match against Switzerland.
It’s been a banner year thus far for the visitors. Switzerland has qualified for a major tournament for the first time in the program’s history. Next year’s World Cup will be Switzerland’s first appearance and the team has never qualified for the Olympics or the European Championships.
“They’ve already qualified (for the 2015 Women’s World Cup) so we know that they’re a very competent team,” U.S. head coach Jill Ellis said about the Swiss. “They’ve got a lot of good attacking personalities. Organized defensively because they have a German coach and they been really successful. They’re going to be a very good opponent for us.”
From the American perspective, playing a well-organized defense could pay dividends for the team heading into World Cup qualifiers as the team has struggled at times this year to penetrate opposing teams’ backlines.
Notably, Wednesday’s match will also mark the first time all year that the team’s two leading strikers are both available. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan haven’t play a game together in 2014, as both have suffered injuries that kept them out of the lineup. As Ellis looks to use a 4-4-3 formation, the match might be a good platform for the two to get some time playing in the system.
While the Swiss team has never played in the United States, one of the team’s strikers spent considerable time playing in the U.S. Lara Dickenmann, who currently plays for Lyon, played college soccer for Ohio State from 2004-07. While in the U.S., Dickenmann set a number of offensive records for the school and still holds the single-season and career assists records.
Dickenmann described playing the No. 1 team in the world as both really tough and very exciting. She added that her team watches the U.S. on TV and has a lot of respect for their opponents and what they’ve accomplished.
What did the forward tell her teammates about the American style of soccer?
“They are going to be very physical style of play and they are all very fast as well,” Dickenmann said. “They are like top athletes and they are in good shape because they are almost at the end of their season and we are just in the beginning for the most part. We have one player that is mid-season…We’re trying to be prepared as well as we can.”
The U.S. will no doubt be a good test for a team looking to break even more new ground next year in Canada.
Another storyline to watch for on Wednesday is whether Hope Solo can etch her name further in the U.S. Soccer history books as she looks to break all-time shutdown leader Briana Scurry’s record. Both Scurry and Solo are currently tied with 71 shutouts. Solo tied Scurry’s mark back on June 14 against France, shortly before being arrested and subsequent charged with two counts of domestic-violence assault, charges she’ll face in court on Nov. 4.
The U.S. vs. Switzerland game will kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be livestreamed at ussoccer.com.
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