After earning 7 points in the group stage, the U.S. Women's National Team advanced to the Algarve Cup final, where they face France. The match kicks off at 9:00 a.m. PT today and will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1.
Seattle Reign FC players Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Sydney Leroux are all expected to suit up. Rapinoe and Leroux, both returning from injury, saw limited time in the group stage, with Rapinoe looking a bit rusty in her start against Switzerland.
The U.S. face a French team that continues to improve, earning three straight wins in the Algarve Cup, including a 3-1 victory over Japan. A month ago, France defeated the USWNT 2-0. With the U.S. side missing Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe, and Sydney Leroux, France dominated most of the match, especially in the midfield. France also had the benefit of featuring players — almost all of whom play for either PSG or Lyon — who were in mid-season form. The U.S. is now 14-1-2 against France.
The Algarve Cup final comes at a pivotal moment for the USWNT. France, once considered a long shot for winning the World Cup, recently defeated the U.S., Germany, and Brazil — all top-ranked teams. If France takes the Algarve Cup, they're an essential lock as the #1 team in the world, and the U.S. — currently #2 — could drop even further. If the U.S. earns a victory, fans will gain a spark of hope leading up to the World Cup.
What to Watch
- How well the U.S. midfield control the game: In their last match against France, Morgan Brian was notably absent, and the midfield struggled to connect with forwards Alex Morgan and Christen Press.
- Will the U.S. find some creativity? Because opponents have been sitting deep defensively against the U.S., the team has relied far too heavily on the long ball. As a result, they've struggled to move the ball quickly and find holes, especially in the first 45 minutes. The team failed to score in the first half during all 3 Algarve Cup group stage matches. Playing Lauren Holiday further up on the field could help with this, but that doesn't seem like an option USWNT coach Jill Ellis wants to consider.
- Defensive shape against a speedy attack: Meghan Klingenberg and Lori Chalupny were constantly beat on the flanks when the U.S. faced France in February, while centerbacks Becky Sauerbrunn and Whitney Engen, covering for a struggling midfield, were often pulled out of position. While the U.S. gave up just 1 goal against Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland, these teams were not as offensively strong or fast as France.
- Will Wambach start? The veteran forward has looked much stronger as a late-game sub, but continues to find her way into the starting lineup.
How to Watch
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, March 11, 9:00 AM Pacific
Venue: Algarve Stadium, Portugal
TV: FOX Sports 1
Online: Streaming through Fox Sports Go