The U.S. women’s national team took on Costa Rica on Monday as part of the Olympic qualifiers. With a new coach and an easy group, the USWNT has seen some major change-ups to the starting lineup as well as the substitutions. Most notable during the match was Ali Krieger, who was out of the game for about two years under the previous coach, Jill Ellis.
Monday’s game signified the end of the first Olympic group round, and the match showed fans and other teams what to expect from the FIFA No. 1 ranking, USWNT. Here is what we learned from the USWNT’s game against Costa Rica:
Julie Ertz and Tobin Heath are strongholds of the USWNT
Heath and Ertz have proved to be forces on the field with the team, even as changes occur to the starting line ups. Heath is considered a classic veteran on the USWNT, but Ertz is relatively new, getting her first major start for the 2015 World Cup. However, with so many inexperienced players coming into their first or second Olympics, these two players will be relied on to keep the team steady and level headed with sophisticated playing styles and presence on the field.
Ali Krieger can make a big difference on our back line
Despite not getting another call up for two years after the 2016 Olympics, Krieger continued to work in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Orlando Pride. Now, under new leadership, Krieger is getting to show what she worked on and why she deserves a spot on the roster.
The USWNT’s defense is young and relatively inexperienced with Emily Sonnett, Abby Dahlkemper and even Crystal Dunn. With experience dating back to 2008, Krieger is a calculated and calm player under pressure. She not only is a steady player to have on the back line, but she is able to find holes in the other teams’ defense to slip the ball in for a goal — as seen in the game against Costa Rica with Christen Press’ second goal. Krieger can add seniority to the backline that is currently only seen with Becky Sauerbrunn.
Brick wall defense is going to be challenged
Depending on whether Vlatko Andonovski decides to play Sauerbrunn, the defensive line for the USWNT will be young in terms of experience. Sonnett, Dahlkemper and Dunn will be competing in their first and second Olympics, making them the least experienced out of the defenders on the rosters.
In 2015, the back line was referred to as a brick wall but this Olympics could challenge that nickname. With the amount of inexperience on the back line and Hope Solo no longer in goal, mistakes that have already been seen in previous games could come to the forefront during the Olympic games when the USWNT faces more difficult teams.
The USWNT will face Mexico on Friday at 10 p.m. in the semi-finals of the qualifying tournament.