The United States women’s national team was far more dangerous than Netherlands during a 1-1 draw at the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday, but it emerged in deeper danger than the side it beat to win the 2019 tournament.
The expanded World Cup field in Australia and New Zealand means that there’s no third-place advancement possibility for the Yanks, who face Portugal next and will likely need at least a draw to reach the knockout rounds.
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The USWNT rarely loses in the group stage of this tournament, but there’s little room for error given that Netherlands faces 0-2 and already-eliminated Vietnam on the final match day.
Portugal has three points after falling to the Netherlands and beating Vietnam, and will need a famous win over the U.S. to pass the reigning champions and reach the knockout rounds.
What does the USWNT need in order to reach the knockout rounds and, perhaps just as important, claim the group crown? Read on…
USWNT needs to find finish
The Netherlands had more possession than the USWNT on Wednesday and kept the side off-balance in the first half with a very physical, foul-happy approach that somehow didn’t lead to yellow cards from referee Yoshimi Yamashita.
Ironically, perhaps, it was a yellow-worthy foul from Danielle van de Donk — Horan’s club teammate at Lyon — the helped set up the Yanks’ equalizer. Van de Donk went knee-to-knee on Horan and the American required treatment on the pitch before play restarted at Wellington Regional Stadium.
Horan nodded Rose Lavelle’s set piece into the goal for the lone USWNT goal of the game and, essentially, a fourth point of the group stage.
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The U.S. out-attempted the Dutch 18-4 but put only three of those efforts on target despite 12 coming from inside the 18. They made 70 final-third entries compared to just 34 for their rivals, won 11 corners to one, and attempted 29 crosses.
All that and a bag of chips or crisps still puts the USWNT in a more difficult position than the Dutch heading into the final group stage. The Yanks will need their dangerous front three of Alex Morgan, Trinity Rodman, and Sophia Smith to find their edges unless Alyssa Thompson, Megan Rapinoe, or Lynn Williams draw starts; Thompson and Rapinoe were subs in the win over Vietnam, but Andonovski did not change any of his forwards versus the Dutch (In fact, Lavelle was his only sub, period).
USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski will be hoping that Rose Lavelle’s knee comes through her substitute appearance in fine form, as the OL Reign star changed the game and gave more license to Horan during the draw with the Netherlands.
The Yanks will also need to address whether its back line is good as constructed. Crystal Dunn was her marvelous self despite falling on the Netherlands goal, but could there be a change in front of Alyssa Naeher?
What does the USWNT need to win World Cup group?
Presuming the Dutch don’t lose to Vietnam, the USWNT needs to draw or beat Portugal to reach the knockout rounds and keep their dreams of an unprecedented third-straight World Cup alive.
As for the Group E’s coveted first-place finish, the U.S. hold a two-goal advantage over the Netherlands in goal differential heading into the final match day.
Should both teams win and the Netherlands draw level with the USWNT on goal differential, the next tiebreaker is goals scored. The Yanks currently have four to the Netherlands’ two. If that figure is even, it’ll come down to fair play points, then the drawing of lots.
The Winner of Group E gets the Group G runner-up in the Round of 16. With another win, it would face the Winner of Group A or the Group C runner-up .
The Runner-up of Group E gets the Group G winner followed by either Group C winner or the Group A runner-up.
Switzerland leads Group A, while New Zealand and the Philippines could still win the group and Norway had not been eliminated.
The Group C winner will either be Spain or Japan, who have both sealed advancement and meet on July 31 for group honors.
Group G has only played one matchday, with Sweden and Italy both winning and South Africa and Argentina holding 0-1 records.
World Cup Group E scores, schedule
Friday, July 21: Auckland, New Zealand – USA 3-0 Vietnam – 9pm
Sunday, July 23: Dunedin, New Zealand – Netherlands 1-0 Portugal – 3:30am
Wednesday, July 26: Wellington, New Zealand – USA 1-1 Netherlands – 9pm
Thursday, July 27: Hamilton, New Zealand – Portugal 2-0 Vietnam
Tuesday, Aug. 1: Auckland, New Zealand – Portugal vs. USA – 3am
Tuesday, Aug. 1: Dunedin, New Zealand – Vietnam vs. Netherlands – 3am