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World Cup NOW: Should USWNT make lineup changes following Portugal draw?
United States

World Cup NOW: Should USWNT make lineup changes following Portugal draw?

Published Aug. 1, 2023 6:45 a.m. ET

The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup continued Tuesday with the United States and Portugal playing to a 0-0 draw in the final Group E match at Wellington Regional Stadium in New Zealand.

Despite the draw, the United States will advance to the Round of 16. But it finished in second in Group E, with the Netherlands defeating Vietnam on Tuesday 7-0.

The United States was just mere inches away from being knocked out of the Women's World Cup. In the second minute of second-half extra time, Portugal's Ana Capeta broke through the United States defense to get a shot against USWNT goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. However, her shot hit the post and rolled out for a goal kick. The Americans were able to hold on from there.

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Following Tuesday's result, USWNT finished group play with an underwhelming 1-2-0 record. On top of that, it'll be without one of its top players for the Round of 16 match. Rose Lavelle picked up her second yellow card of the tournament on Tuesday, triggering an automatic one-game suspension

The "World Cup NOW" crew — Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne, Melissa Ortiz and Kathryn Gill — discussed what possible lineup changes USWNT should make for the Round of 16, calling for the return of a couple key veterans, as it will likely face Sweden on Sunday. 

The 'World Cup NOW' crew reacts to the United States advancing to the knockout stage

The 'World Cup NOW' crew discussed the United States' draw with Portugal and how the USWNT will fare in the knockout stage of the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup. 

Conrad: "I don't know if we know our best 11, Kate. And that makes me nervous because we're going into the win or go home phase."

Gill: "I completely agree with that. Do you throw experience out there to try and calm things and find a different solution? This hasn't been working. But you're through to the Round of 16, anything can happen. These are the big-pressure matches. Maybe it needed a big moment. I know you needed the result and the result is got. But maybe it needs to be do or die when everything is on the line. Maybe that gets a response."

Ortiz: "I think, since everything is wild today, I might just throw out a wild card. Given the fact that whoever their next opponent is (likely Sweden) now likely knows the disadvantages and the lack of composure and disconnection of the USA, do we need to throw a wild card and not start the eight or nine that have been starting? I'm talking about switching the defensive line a bit. Do we add some new outside backs? 

"Rose is out next game, so does that give an opportunity again for [Savannah] Damelo or Ashley Sanchez? But, honestly, I wanted to throw out a wild card and change up parts of the defensive line."

USWNT's Rose Lavelle receives a yellow card vs. Portugal and is out for team's next game if it advances

The United States' Rose Lavelle receives a yellow card vs. Portugal and will be suspended for the next game on Sunday.

Osborne: "I think this was a perfect game where Sofia Huerta would've been critical in. Her service is a different type of service than we've seen. And it would've given a different look."

Conrad: "We have some older players sprinkled in. We have Julie Ertz playing out of position. It'd be great to have her in midfield. So, the loss of Becky Sauerbrunn in that back-line is tremendous. But we're also relying on the Sophia Smiths and the Trinity Rodmans. Lynn Williams, though older, is in her first Women's World Cup. 

"Is the mix right? Do we need to insert a Kelley O'Hara? Does Megan Rapinoe need to start? Do we need some more of those players that have established that grit and that reputation for the U.S. with a little bit more of a balance with the younger players?"

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Ortiz: "With Megan Rapinoe coming in, she's a slower player than Sophia Smith out on that side. But what she brought on today, once she got onto the pitch, it wasn't speed. It was service. It was a combination of trying to link up with players, experience, grit and hustle. She was the one that brought on the energy. 

"If you asked me that question after the last game, I would've said no. But after seeing this performance and seeing what she brought onto the pitch, absolutely. You definitely need her. After seeing that speech in their huddle by Kelley O'Hara, you need these players on the field. And that's part of the transition from older players to younger players."

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