Welcome to Laminated, our weekly soccer predictions column inspired by, well, this tweet.
Um, I don’t know about you, but it’s starting to feel very, very real that there’s a World Cup kicking off in three months. We’re going to blink and all of a sudden the opening game will be starting on the other side of the world.
Is the U.S. women’s national team ready for this tournament? After two mostly uninspiring performances against Ireland over the last week (and a mostly uninspiring last four years since the 2019 World Cup win, if we’re being honest), I’m not sure. But hey, at least Julie Ertz is back! That’s a win, though probably not quite as big of a win as Mallory Swanson’s injury is a loss. In the same breath that brought Ertz back into the fold, the star left winger went down with a patella tendon issue that will see her most likely miss the World Cup.
Still, even without Swanson, the strength of the U.S. team is in the player pool. The players — not Vlatko Andonovski’s tactics — make the United States one of the world’s truly elite teams. So with that in mind, I’m using these recent USWNT matches as an excuse to predict the teams’ first-choice starting lineup for this summer’s World Cup.
From back to front, let’s get to predicting.