It’s Friday evening.
You’re settled in on the couch with your snack of choice by your side. Maybe some popcorn? Or pretzels? Or edamame? Just pick one. You don’t have time to overthink it, because the U.S. women’s national team’s World Cup opener against Vietnam is about to start. Alex Morgan is getting ready to tap the ball backwards on the kickoff to get things rolling for the United States, and it’s all starting to feel real.
Three-peat watch is on.
Ahead of their first group stage game — and before you’ve decided on your snack…maybe some mango slices? — we’re running through 10 of the most important questions facing the United States. Not to get over dramatic here, but the answers to these questions will define their World Cup run. Hey, I said not to be “over dramatic”. Being dramatic is fine. As an added bonus, these questions (and the potential answers to them) will give you some specific things to watch for during the USWNT’s games to know if things are going well or…not so well.
Let’s get to it.
Will Alyssa Naeher come up big?
It’s incredibly easy to get lost in the sauce when it comes to the USWNT, focusing on the team’s crazy-talented attack and moving right past some of their defenders. The U.S. have high-profile attacker followed by high-profile attacker and will likely dominate most games by their sheer talent advantage alone. But what happens when a counter-attack starts streaming the other way? What happens when one of Portugal’s thoughtful set pieces ends up in a shot on target on the U.S. goal?
Well, that’s when goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will have to make her money.