If the previous two games provide any preview of the USWNT, the final group stage game against Portugal is no guarantee. Even worse, the USWNT must force at least a draw to punch a ticket to the knockout stages. With the final group game against Portugal rapidly approaching, many feel that the USWNT has not played very well at this Women’s World Cup. The first was a 3-0 win against Vietnam. The 1-1 draw with the Netherlands ensued. Those results leave the US with work to do if it wants to advance.
Pedestrian performance against the Dutch
Similar to how Gregg Berhalter was massively outclassed by Louis van Gaal when the USMNT lost to the Netherlands in Qatar, so too was Vlatko Andonovski out-coached by Andries Jonker. The Dutch took the lead after 16 minutes which stymied the Americans. For much of the game, the USWNT struggled to adjust to how the Netherlands played.
Most puzzling was Andonovski’s decision to only make one substitution the entire game. Rose Lavelle was brought on at halftime for Savannah DeMelo. That substitution did prove to be a good one. It was Lavelle who made Lindsey Horan’s equalizer possible in the 62nd minute. But only making one out of five allowed substitutions in a tournament that could potentially go seven games for the US is almost inexcusable.
Heading into the final group game, the US still sits atop Group E. However, they still have plenty of work to do. They are tied with the Netherlands on points but ahead on goal difference. Against Portugal they will need a win to secure the top spot. A draw would also work for advancing. However, if the Portuguese win, the US will need to hope for a Vietnamese win against the Dutch.
Portugal playing well in preview for USWNT
For it being their debut Women’s World Cup appearance, the Portuguese have given a very good account of themselves. They dropped their opener to the Netherlands 1-0 but had their chances in the second half to possibly steal a point. In its second game against Vietnam, Portugal put together a solid and comprehensive performance and won 2-0.
Manager Francisco Neto’s only previous managerial experience before taking the Portugal job, was with a club in India called Goa. Since assuming his position in 2014 he has taken the team leaps and bounds ahead. Prior to Neto’s arrival, Portugal had never been to the European Championship. It qualified for the last two. Moreover, Portugal had never qualified for the Women’s World Cup. Now, it sits one win away from advancing to the knockout rounds.
Despite having never been to the Women’s World Cup there is plenty of experience in the squad. A total of seven players have over 100 career international appearances. Goal scoring has been at a premium though. Of the 23 players on the roster, only two of them have managed to hit the 20-goal mark: Diana Silva and Carolina Mendes.
Kickoff and viewing
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Given the time difference between the US and New Zealand, everybody knew a brutal kickoff time was possible. The USWNT vs Portugal game kicks off at 3 a.m. ET on Aug. 1. That’s either Monday night or Tuesday morning depending on how folks want to look at it.
The game will air in English on FOX and will air in Spanish on Telemundo and Peacock.
PHOTO: IMAGO & ZUMA Wire
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