By, Kyle Gibson
Another summer. Another World Cup.
This one is arguably larger for the United States because the Women’s National Team should always be considered a favorite in the world’s game. With the World Cup finally back on North American soil, the women’s team is trying to return to glory and win its third World Cup trophy (and first in 16 years.)
Things will be tough, though, with the U.S. drawn into a strong group including Sweden (coached by former USWNT beloved boss Pia Sundhage), Nigeria and Australia.
Tonight’s opponent is Australia. Here are my thoughts as the U.S. Looks to take on the Matildas.
1) There is a cloud over the team with the recent ESPN Outside the Lines report on Hope Solo. Solo has been a distraction for years, but remains to be seen as one of the greatest goalkeepers the women’s game has ever produced. Can Solo keep her focus? Can the team rally around her? That will be highly important this evening. Shaky goalkeeping is not a good thing to have at a World Cup.
2) The leaders of the U.S. line, Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan, are not as sharp as in recent tournaments. Wambach turned 35 on June 2 and his been saving herself for this tournament. Morgan has been out due to injury and isn’t starting tonight. The scoring ability these two have shown recently may have been masking a few problems in the team as a whole. It will be vital to get goal production from these two.
3) Finally, a prediction. I think the U.S. will win 2-1. The scorers will be Wambach and Sydney Leroux. Leroux has gained notoriety over the years, but could be a household name by the time this World Cup is over. I think Megan Rapinoe will add an assist. She’s a dynamic player (my favorite on the team) that everyone should watch. She’s a joy.