The U.S. women’s national team hasn’t yet looked like a dominant force through its first two matches of the 2023 World Cup. From poor finishing against Vietnam in the opener to a sloppy first half against the Netherlands, the Americans have looked beatable.
Entering Tuesday’s Group E finales, the USWNT is in first place but can be eliminated with a loss to Portugal as long as the Netherlands gets at least a draw against an already eliminated Vietnam. The odds heavily favor the Americans to advance, but it’s a toss-up as far as group winner.
The U.S. and the Netherlands have four points after playing to a 1-1 draw last week. The U.S. leads the group with a plus-3 goal differential thanks to a 3-0 win against Vietnam, while the Dutch are at plus-1 after edging Portugal with a lone goal.
Both the U.S. and the Netherlands are heavily favored to win on Tuesday, meaning it could turn into a goal-differential race. The U.S. has a head start, but also faces a more difficult opponent.
All odds from BetMGM.
USWNT vs. Portugal
Kickoff time: 3 a.m. ET/8 a.m. BST Tuesday
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
The Americans struggled for extended periods of the match against the Dutch, but Portugal is not the same level of opposition. This is Portugal’s first World Cup appearance, fresh off a 2-0 win against Vietnam.
The U.S. is a perfect 10-for-10 against Portugal all-time and has never given up a goal to the Portuguese. In the most recent meeting, the U.S. won 1-0 two years ago in Houston.
Even a draw will be enough to secure a place in the Round of 16 for the U.S., but that would likely mean finishing second in the group to a Dutch team that is heavily favored to beat Vietnam. The Americans have finished second in a group before. That was in 2011 and the U.S. went on to make the final that year.
What adjustments will coach Vlatko Andonovski make for this match? Rose Lavelle played 27 minutes in the opener and subbed on at halftime against the Dutch. Will she make her first start for this one? Lavelle was the only sub against the Netherlands, which opens up the possibility that Andonovski will have to rotate his squad more, or at least make more subs this time around.
Through two matches, the Americans have allowed just one shot on target. That one was a goal, but it does show how solid the defense has been. Finishing on the other hand, hasn’t been great. The U.S. put seven of 28 attempts on target against Vietnam and four of 18 on target against the Dutch.
Despite showing some weaknesses and having a chance to be eliminated in the group stage, the U.S. remains the betting favorite to win the tournament. Spain, England and Germany (even after a loss to Colombia) are next in the odds.
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Why Rose Lavelle’s return could boost USWNT at World Cup
Did Vlatko Andonovski’s lack of substitutions hurt the USWNT?
(Photo of Rose Lavelle: Robin Alam/USSF / Getty Images)