The United States women’s national team faces its final test of the group stage of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, taking on Portugal in Auckland, New Zealand.
After beating Vietnam, 3-0, and drawing with the Netherlands, 1-1, the U.S. can advance simply with a draw, but hopes to win Group E by defeating Portugal, though it might come down to goal differential.
If both the U.S. and the Netherlands win Tuesday (the teams have matches at the exact same time), then goal differential will come into play as the first tiebreaker. The U.S. currently holds a +2 advantage. Here’s more on the scenarios for the U.S. to win its group.
Portugal, meanwhile, lost a tight opener to the Netherlands, 1-0, before notching its first-ever goal in the Women’s World Cup en route to a 2-0 elimination of Vietnam on Thursday (its first win, of course). The U.S. is expected to beat Portugal, but it likely won’t be as easy as the team’s first game against Vietnam.
We’ve put together everything you need to know ahead of kickoff.
How to watch United States vs. Portugal:
+ The match will air on FOX and the FOX Sports app at 3 a.m. ET on Tuesday, with coverage beginning at 1 a.m. ET. Full replays of FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be available on FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App. Here’s how to watch every game of the tournament.
What to know about the Portugal matchup:
+ The possibility is almost unfathomable. At every previous Women’s World Cup, the United States has reached at least the semifinals. Getting eliminated before the knockout round even begins? For one of the greatest dynasties in the history of international sports, the very idea could seem downright preposterous. Yet that’s exactly what could happen if Portugal upsets the Americans — and a U.S. loss to Portugal isn’t farfetched. Portugal, for its part, is starting to believe it can pull off the upset.
+ The U.S. currently sits on top of the group with a +3 goal difference, the first tiebreaker. Still, spending too much time worrying about all the different potential scenarios could be counterproductive. Playing as well as their peerless roster is capable of ought to be the lone objective. Do that, the thinking goes, and the rest will take care of itself.
+ Rarely has there been a World Cup on the men’s or women’s side where the champion had things all its own way virtually the entire time. Surviving some trials and tribulations, staving off some mini-crises, enduring difficulties both great and small, is usually all part of the champion’s journey. That’s exactly what the U.S. went through against the Netherlands — the perfect test of its mettle.
+ The past few days have brought a predictable round of second-guessing of USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski. But just because Andonovski did not press the panic button, rip up the script and throw on a bunch of replacements does not mean he was unreactive to what was an inspired Dutch game plan.
+ On that note, who should start in Tuesday’s match? Should Alex Morgan come off the bench? We asked FOX Sports’ soccer analysts to pick their first XI for the USWNT’s group-stage finale — here’s who they went with.
+ By any average criteria, Alex Morgan’s performances so far have been just fine. By Alex Morgan standard, they have been below what you might expect. But Morgan, named as co-captain alongside Lindsey Horan for the tournament, is the most clutch performer the American team has. Heck, her propensity for popping up in the biggest and most important of moments is virtually unmatched in the entire sport. That’s why the U.S. could sure use some Morgan Magic right about now.
+ Megan Rapinoe suggested this week that she “could’ve helped” the team against the Netherlands. But as she transitions from superstar to substitute, she’s not sweating the major role change. “It’s funny because I feel like I can totally still be everything I want to be, but obviously understanding that I’m not playing all the minutes,” Rapinoe told FOX Sports earlier this year. “I kind of just don’t really care. I don’t really want that. When I’m called upon, I’m ready and I love that.”
+ An hour into Wednesday’s 1-1 tie with the Netherlands, the U.S. women’s national team looked well on its way to a stunning first-round defeat at the World Cup. But while the near-death experience Wednesday might have left U.S. fans wondering if their team is truly capable of pulling off a historic World Cup three-peat by winning it all at Australia-New Zealand 2023, it could also serve the American players well when the real do-or-die games begin in the knockout stage. “We learned a few lessons from this game,” captain (and the game’s hero) Lindsay Horan said.
+ Speaking of Horan, she saved the USWNT against the Netherlands. But it was first fueled by an overly physical tackle that was not called. Horan got mad, then she got even. And in making a statement, Horan also set an example for the younger players who are experiencing their first World Cup. After all, the USWNT co-captain had previous said her goal is to make those young players “as confident as possible in their abilities.”
+ It was one of those World Cup moments that came from nowhere and couldn’t be predicted — the United States captain angrily getting into it with her friend and club teammate, then using her fury to score a crucial equalizing goal. Except that Aly Wagner predicted it.
+ Will Rose Lavelle regain her starting spot against Portugal after starting the first two games on the bench? Turns out, she’s on a minutes restriction. “Her minutes limitation was around 45 minutes,” Andonovski said. But after making an instant impact substituting in both games, the “World Cup NOW” crews believes she should start. “Just start Rose from the beginning,” 2015 World Cup champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist Heather O’Reilly said. “She came in and made a difference.” As for her teammates, they have reason to believe the 2019 World Cup hero is primed for an encore. Off the pitch, however, Lavelle says she’s just the same old Rose.
+ Julie Ertz played center back at the 2015 World Cup, but has mostly transitioned to playing as a holding defensive midfielder over the last few years. But when Becky Sauerbrunn was ruled out of this tournament with an injury days before the final roster was announced at the end of June, Andonovski asked Ertz to play her position. For the U.S., she has been that commanding leader in the central defense. “It’s what we needed,” Andonovski said.
Should the USWNT be concerned about Portugal?
Intro to the USWNT:
+ Just getting familiar with this version of the USWNT? Take a look at our full guide to the 23-woman roster and Carli Lloyd’s look at the 15 most important U.S. players. Our FOX Sports panel of experts also debated the team’s most important player.
+ The U.S. women’s national team has a chance to make more history this summer if it wins a record fifth title and third in a row. Only four teams have gone back-to-back. No nation has completed the three-peat. Here’s more on the U.S. quest. By the way, the whole U.S. title chase is being followed for a Netflix docuseries.
+ Wondering how the U.S. gets out of this opening stage? First, get to know the teams also in Group E. Then, take a look at which teams our experts feel pose the biggest threat to the United States’ three-peat hopes.
“World Cup NOW” crew discusses USWNT’s chances of winning Group E
Editor’s picks — our favorite pregame reads:
+ The USWNT is rooted in a simple objective: Leave the game better than you found it for posterity. It’s built on a bond created and fostered by mentorship that’s proudly passed down through generations. This year’s team has three players the perfectly exemplify that. (Read Laken Litman on the USWNT mentorship circle)
+ Trinity Rodman is a candidate to be a breakout star for the USWNT — and, yep, she’s Dennis Rodman’s daughter. And not only has she internet-binged Dennis’ basketball highlights for years, but she still uses his hardwood techniques to benefit her own soccer game. “I watched my dad play a lot more than people really know,” she said. “My brother [USC transfer DJ Rodman] lived for watching my dad’s clips.” (Read Martin Rogers on how Trinity is modeling her game after her father’s)
+ For the world champion 2015 U.S. women’s national team, the ’99ers were the inspiration. But for this version of the national team, the 2015 squad is the touchstone. (Read Doug McIntyre on how this young roster was shaped by the 2015 squad)
+ Alex Morgan’s father, Mike, never misses his daughter’s games. Literally. Since Alex was 14, Mike guesstimates he has been to every single match. “He’s literally at everything,” Megan Rapinoe said. (Read Laken Litman on the ultimate soccer dad)
+ The 2023 version of the USWNT has three mothers on the roster, matching a previous record set in 2015. But it wasn’t always that way. “I’m just really grateful for the women before me that fought for mom athletes,” Alex Morgan said. (Read Laken Litman on the “badass” OG moms of the USWNT)
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