USWNT

Preview: France vs USWNT

On Sunday afternoon, the US Women’s National Team take the field for the first time in 2015 in a friendly against a French side many regard as one of the top women’s teams in the world right now (12 pm, ESPN2).

France went unbeaten in their Women’s World Cup qualifying group, compiling a 10-0-0 record while scoring 54 goals and allowing just three. The US ousted France in the quarterfinals of the 2011 World Cup, with the match a highly competitive one that was all square until late goals from Alex Morgan and Abby Wambach secured the 3-1 win.

US roster notes

The team will be without regulars Megan Rapinoe and Christie Rampone for their matches in Europe (the team also takes on England next Friday) after both players sustained minor injuries during the team’s January training camp. Regular first team goalkeeper Hope Solo is also not with the squad, serving the remainder of her recently mandated suspension.

US Soccer president Sunil Gulati has been critical of Hope Solo after multiple off-field incidents in the past year, and her absence gives the three other goalkeepers in camp an opportunity to audition for the No. 1 spot. Nicole Barnhart has consistently looked to be the No. 2 goalkeeper over the last few years, but Ashlyn Harris will think she may have a shot at the job as well. Alyssa Naeher, the very solid goalkeeper from the Boston Breakers, is the third goalkeeper with the squad.

Forward Alex Morgan is with the team, having recently recovered from an ankle injury.

Coach Jill Elllis’ team has one first time call up in camp in Tori Huster, a midfielder from the Washington Spirit.

A very strong French side

The French Women come off of a fantastic World Cup qualifying campaign in which they did not drop a single point, easily dominating their group. Striker Gaëtane Thiney scored a whopping 14 goals over those ten matches. Fellow attackers Marie-Laure Delie and Eugénie Le Sommer both chipped in with 9 and 7 goals, respectively. While many of the teams France played in qualifying do not measure up to the US defensively, the shear amount of goals should have the US backline on their toes.

The US women have long relied on athleticism and sheer grit to become the powerhouse they are. But with a well-drilled French side that plays some of the best technical soccer in the world, athleticism and grit may not be enough to win at Stade du Moustoir in Lorient on Sunday. Ellis’ tactical prowess will have to be top notch, particularly with stalwart defender/superwoman Christie Rampone not controlling the match from the back line.

Prediction

France 2-1 USA. The French will provide a stern test of where this US team stands in this World Cup year. It will be interesting to see how the US copes with not seeing the outrageous possession stats they easily maintained through CONCACAF qualifying, and if they can in fact compete technically with a very, very good French team.

One Comment

  1. French National Team logo. As cool as is gets.
    .
    French women on the ascendency while, IMO, we are stagnant- and as you said relying on grit and athleticism. I agree with your assessment. France 2. US 1.

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