Jun 15, 2012, 8:44 PM EDT
Sweden is the next stop on the U.S. WNT’s pre-Olympic world tour. Will the team continue to hit form at the right time?
Tomorrow the team will face the hosts of the friendly tournament that also features world champions Japan. Universal Sports Network will be streaming the match live at 10 A.M. ET – early enough to get your first soccer fix of the day. Time for questions…
1.) Will Alex Morgan continue her fiery form in Sweden?
Between this and this, Alex Morgan is increasingly become a known commodity. And, hey, the girl is rather good at soccer, too. She has scored nearly half of the U.S.’s last 28 goals. She’s also found the net in seven of her last ten appearances for the side. It will be intriguing to watch which role she fulfills. Morgan has supplanted strike partner Abby Wambach as the team’s primary attacking spearhead. She’s also become a more well-rounded forward. While her poise and composure on the ball are well-known by now, in the U.S.’s last match against China, Morgan showcased her physical strength in 1-v.-1 situations. Will she continue her phenomenal, potentially record-setting goal streak in Sweden?
2.) Will the U.S. backline convince?
The defensive corps hasn’t exactly been watertight in recent outings. While captain Christie Rampone continues to turn back the clock with commanding performances at center back, the defense has been culpable for costly errs. An unwise lateral pass across the back resulted in a conceded goal versus China. The U.S. doesn’t exactly hold a sterling defensive record against tournament rivals Sweden or Japan either. The U.S. has conceded over a goal on average in its three previous matches with Japan – all of which have ended in a loss or draw for the U.S. The Americans have a similarly spotty streak against Sweden (five shipped goals in their last four meetings), although they walloped the Swedes 4-0 the last time the sides met in March.
3.) Who will land starting gigs and cameo roles?
Following the conclusion of this tournament the U.S. WNT will have just one more pre-Olympic friendly. Pia Sundhage will undoubtedly take the opportunity to hammer down her preferred starting line-ups and formations. In a press conference held Friday, Sundhage revealed that she will try to avoid having one player put in consecutive 90 minute shifts over the course of both matches. A full match against such stiff competition? This could be a golden opportunity for Olympic-bound players who remain on the fringes of the starting XI.
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