USWNT vs. China: Top Storylines and Predictions for 2023 Friendly

USWNT vs. China: Top Storylines and Predictions for 2023 Friendly

Soccer: FIFA World Cup: USA Rose Lavelle (16) in action, dribbles the ball vs Portugal during a Group E match at Eden Park. 
Auckland, NZ 8/1/2023 
CREDIT: Erick W. Rasco (Photo by Erick W. Rasco/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images) 
(Set Number: X164390 TK1)

Set Number: X164390 TK1

The United States women’s national team begins its final series of 2023 against China on Saturday in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.Lav

Saturday’s contest will be the first since Emma Hayes was named the new USWNT managed, but she will not take charge until 2024.

Hayes may have some influence from afar, but interim manager Twila Kilgore will make all of the matchday decisions inside DRV PNK Stadium.

The USWNT will continue to work in some of the best young players in the talent pool for Saturday’s contest and Tuesday’s matchup in Frisco, Texas.

Midfielders Jenna Nighswonger and Korbin Albert were included in the squad for the first time.

The USWNT midfield also received a boost in the form of Rose Lavelle’s return. She has not been in the squad since the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

USWNT vs. China Info

Date: Saturday, December 2

Start Time: 3 p.m. ET

TV: TNT

Live Stream: Max

Top Storylines

Rose Lavelle Back In Squad

Lavelle, one of the USWNT’s most important players, is back in the squad for the December friendlies.

The 28-year-old midfielder will be one of the foundational pieces the USWNT will build around for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Although Hayes in not in charge yet, Lavelle noted in training that there is a fresh feeling within the group, per The Athletic’s Meg Linehan.

“I know it’s the end of an era, but it feels like it’s the start of something new,” Lavelle said.

Lavelle and Lindsay Horan have long been important cogs in the USWNT midfield, but now that Julie Ertz and Megan Rapinoe are retired, she will be relied on to be one of the squad’s most influential leaders on and off the field.

Lavelle’s on-field leadership will be tested on Saturday if the USWNT puts out a younger midfield around her.

Of course, the goal is to still win games, but there is an added focus on development because of the program’s transitional period to the next generation.

Only three of the eight midfielders chosen for the December friendlies have more than 10 international appearances.

Even if the younger midfielders do not start, Lavelle could have a heavier influence on the midfield later in the game when changes are made.

Which Up-And-Coming USWNT Stars Feature?

Nighswonger, the newly-crowned NWSL Rookie of the Year, and Albert, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain in France, should have the most attention of the young stars because of their first-time inclusion in the squad.

Everyone involved with the USWNT wants to see what the fresh faces can do for the program, and every game counts as an audition with the Olympics quickly approaching next summer.

Teenagers Olivia Moultrie, Jaedyn Shaw and Alyssa Thompson should receive looks at some point, as should 22-year-old striker Mia Fishel.

The USWNT needs to find more impact players in the attacking third with Ertz and Rapinoe retired and Alex Morgan not in the December squad.

Lynn Williams, Sophia Smith, Horan and Lavelle are the only players with double-digit goal tallies on the international level on the current roster.

Trinity Rodman, Ashley Hatch and Midge Purce should also be involved in the final third, as they have been for the last year. The trio needs more production in front of goal, though, as it combined for 15 goals in 71 total appearances.

Prediction

USWNT 2, China 0

The Americans are expected to win every game, no matter what stage the program is in.

The USWNT defense carries a six-game shutout streak into Saturday, and that unit should be the least of the team’s problems.

The defense holds the most experience on the current roster, and a clean sheet is expected from Abby Dahlkemper and Co.

Whomever starts at forward should receive a good chunk of opportunities to score if the USWNT dominates and allows the midfield to dictate possession.

The USWNT only has eight goals in its last six games, and with so many new and young faces up top, it may not produce a large amount of goals, but it can score enough to win the game.

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