It’s do or die. Ok not quite, but a win and we’re guaranteed a spot. Lose and it’s a nervous wait. Beating the USA would be one hell of a way to get through the group stage.
My team is a little chaotic, and very unlikely to happen. To be clear, I really believe the starting XI against Sweden is the strongest for the Matildas. If this was a one off match, I would revert to that.
However, within the spirit of the Olympic games, the schedule is more packed than a plate at Christmas. Taking some player loads into consideration, and neglecting others. Here’s my ad-hoc team.
Again, it’s a flip of the coin. I’m sticking with Micah as I have done from the start of this tournament. The USWNT haven’t had that choking press, so Williams would still do a solid job. But purely based on I think Micah remains the most in form of the goalkeepers, she gets the gloves.
Don’t fix what ain’t broken. Sure Polkinghorne probably needs a breather, and Carpenter is better utilised on the flank. However, both are irreplaceable in the back three.
Carpenter against Sweden was the most impressive player in my book. Not because she did anything eye-catching. But because she was disciplined and played the centre back role to a tee. We were exposed with pace at times on the left, we weren’t exposed in the same way on Carpenter’s side. Even in a ‘quiet’ game, she’s still the Matildas most consistent performer.
Luik has the left hand spot because I have other plans for Kennedy, and there’s no one else I trust in the squad to start against the USA.
Ok, here’s where the crazy starts to happen, but hear me out.
Kennedy has been playing defensive midfield for Tottenham. She’s currently not trusted as centre back, which I can’t argue with even if I really want to. It’s simple, we’ve given away far fewer ridiculous fouls with her not starting. But Kennedy has the passing and positioning to excel at defensive mid and with Luik at centre back, Kennedy could really work there. Especially with van Egmond clocking a lot of minutes already, Yallop in the same boat, and Kennedy the more naturally defensive player out of that trio.
Next up, give the youngsters a go, part 1 is Cooney-Cross. Again it’s a matter of keeping it fresh and hitting the USA with energy. Cooney-Cross offers that and composure. Add in the USA being close in style to how we play in Australia, it won’t bring the culture shock European opposition brings.
Now for the wings. Raso has been magic, so we’ll keep her on the right. On the left I’ve gone with Logarzo. There’s something about playing the Americans that usually draws the best out of Logarzo, so I’m banking on that.
You can’t play the USA without Kerr, so she’s a lock in.
Otherwise again fresh legs is what I’ve looked for. Fowler would bring energy and youth, along with an element of drawing players away from Kerr to replicate what Simon has been doing in recent games.
Foord had an unbelievable match against Sweden, one of her best matches in a Matildas shirt for a long time. However, the match legs again sees her on the bench.
Gielnik again brings something different to the forward line. Is it what we want against the USA? I’m not sure. But she can whip in a flaming good cross that could land on Kerr’s head, and the Simon/Foord combo need a rest so Gielnik taps in.