With just one match to go against Scotland on Tuesday, the U.S. Women’s National Team is looking to close out an unbeaten calendar year, and perhaps give more minutes to the less familiar players in the pool with seven months to go until the World Cup.
In Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Portugal, head coach Jill Ellis did just that. University of North Carolina’s Emily Fox got her first cap at right back, while the Chicago Red Stars’ Danielle Colaprico did the same as a substitute defensive midfielder. Andi Sullivan received her first start since March after a few months away from the National Team, while forward Jessica McDonald marked her second cap with her first international goal, as Ellis played a mix of inexperience and her established players.
Ellis may elect to take a similar approach against Scotland, but as next year’s first-time World Cup participants are this month’s tougher opponent, the coach might bring back her usual starters. Alex Morgan might find herself back in the lineup, as the USWNT attack fared much better when she came on in the second half, as might Julie Ertz, who got a well deserved break on Thursday.
Here is what the year’s final starting lineup might look like:
———Becky Sauerbrunn————Abby Dahlkemper———
Emily Sonnett——————————————Crystal Dunn
—————Lindsey Horan——————Sam Mewis—————
——Mallory Pugh———Alex Morgan———Megan Rapinoe——
Ellis might start a version of her best team against Scotland, but she often takes the option to give Alyssa Naeher a break during friendlies. That could finally mean the team’s third choice goalkeeper, and the long-time Portland Thorns number one, Adrianna Franch earns her first cap. That might also happen as a substitute, as Ellis has taken the opportunity to split minutes between third choice goalkeepers and the resident second choice, Ashlyn Harris.
Given that there are few options at center back in camp, Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper may start together again. Ertz could be in the mix, especially if Ellis opts to start someone else in defensive midfield. Crystal Dunn will likely remain at left back, but second choice Emily Sonnett might get the right back minutes after Fox’s shift on Thursday.
Though Colaprico, Sullivan, and Allie Long are part of this camp, it is likely that Ertz will start in her defensive midfield role, and that one of the other players will get substitute minutes there. Sam Mewis and Lindsey Horan may pair up as the more advanced midfielders, Horan in this case playing further up the pitch than usual.
For the forward line, Ellis might end the year the way she started it. Morgan is likely to start after resting for the first half against Portugal, and will likely be flanked by Mallory Pugh on the right and Megan Rapinoe on the left. Carli Lloyd could get substitute minutes in Morgan’s position, while Dunn could pick up some minutes in an advanced position at some point during the match.