The U.S. Women’s National Team sits in first place in their Group in the Women’s World Cup with four points. At the bottom of the table sit Nigeria with one point.
For Nigeria, this is a must win game. A loss will certainly knock them out of the tournament while a win and a loss by either Australia or Sweden will move them into second place with the United States. If that were the case, they would need to win by 5 or more goals in order to break the tie. A tie against the U.S. and a Swedish loss would leapfrog them into third place, but a tie and an Australia loss would keep them in last place.
The U.S. should be focusing on the win as well. Australia could move into first place if they win and the US tie with the Super Falcons. A loss and a Swedish or Australia win will drop them into a tie for third place. They will want to get out of the group in first place in order to secure an easier route through the early knockout stages.
The U.S. is in the same place they have been in for nearly a year. They find themselves lacking a creative and consistent offensive presence, particularly on their forward line. Head Coach Jill Ellis used all of her forwards against Sweden and was unable to find a goal. A forward combination with power and strength may be the best choice in order to combat the scrappy play of Nigeria.
Kick-off times and TV details:
Nigeria v. USA
8:00 PM – FOX
BC Place Stadium – Vancouver
For the US, wing play will once again be critical. Ellis would be wise to use the pace of Heather O’Reilly on the flank to match the speed of the Super Falcons.
Nigeria may have played all their cards in their first two games. In their game against Australia they showed that their strategy would remain the same: use the pace on the forward line, releasing well-timed passes in the middle to get in behind the opponent’s back line.
The U.S. defense can expect this kind of attack, but should not underestimate it. The defense will need to remain compact and organized and potentially drop the back line lower in order to allow them to keep the play in front of them. This will also limit the opportunities that Ali Krieger and Meghan Klingenberg have to get forward on the flanks.
The Super Falcons also may have trouble keeping up with the Yanks for a full ninety. They already started to show signs of fatigue late in the game against Australia. If the Americans score a few early goals, expect Ellis to use all three of her substitutions in order to give some players rest.
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