After winning the SheBelieves Cup in March and destroying competition in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, the U.S. Women's National Team kicks off its first of six friendlies before the Olympics. Today's match against Colombia will air on FS1 at 4:00 p.m. PT.
The match is taking place at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut, which saw snow this week. In fact, the USWNT had to plow their practice field yesterday. At least they had a little fun with the snow!
Today's match will be only the fourth meeting between the USA and Colombia, a scrappy team with some technical wizards, including Lady Andrade and Yoreli Rincon. The teams most recently met in the Round of 16 at the 2015 Women's World Cup, with the U.S. winning 2-0 on goals from Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd. The U.S. also defeated Colombia 3-0 in group play at the 2011 Women's World Cup, and 3-0 in group play at the 2012 Olympics.
The U.S. will face Colombia again on April 10. Both teams have qualified for Rio, and both are also dealing with wage issues. The WNT just asked filed a federal compaint against U.S. Soccer over discriminatory wage practice, while the Colombian WNT apparently hasn't been paid in four months.
If previous matches are any indication, this should be a physical match that feels more like a World Cup than a friendly.
Seattle Reign FC goalkeeper gets yet another start in goal. Ellis has opted to try a 4-3-3 instead of the tradition 4-2-3-1 the U.S. have been using for the last nine months, starting Portland Thorns midfielder Allie Long in midfield alongside Lindsey Horan and Carli Lloyd.
Alex Morgan and Morgan Brian are both sitting this game out with minor injuries.
What to Watch
Midfield: Horan and Brian have been primarily used as the duo holding down the midfield, and they have had both bright spots and mishaps. While Allie Long showed well against the Seattle Reign as a holding midfielder (although she got beat to a header by the much shorter Jess Fishlock), her addition into the starting lineup is a bit of a surprise.
Subs: USWNT Coach Jill Ellis likely has her final group of players in mind for the Olympics, but she will probably use these friendlies to make final roster decisions. Ellis can only bring 18 to Rio, and in addition to solid backups at positions like centerback, she'll be looking for utility players like Kelley O'Hara who can play in multiple roles.
Attacking half possession: While the U.S. have showed well since the World Cup, they've lacked a lot of creativity in their attacking half. That can partially be attributed to the absence of Seattle Reign FC midfielder Megan Rapinoe. But they can't rely on Pinoe for everything, and they're going to need to find a creative spark if they want to go all the way in the Olympics.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Wednesday, April 6, 4:00 p.m. PT (kickoff probably closer to 4:25 p.m. PT)
Location: Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut
Streaming/Online: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer 2 Go