WWC Preview: USWNT Try to Shake Off Scoring Woes vs. Nigeria

USWNT vs. Sweden

Going into their third and final match of the group stage, the United States sit one point above Australia for the group lead, and are in prime position to go into the knockout stage as the winners of Group D. Nigeria, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the group with a solitary point from their opening draw against Sweden. This is the most lopsided match based on FIFA rankings, but as the African nation showed against Sweden, they will take advantage of any team that doesn’t take them seriously. Will the US make this mistake?

In their last match, the USWNT battled to a 0-0 draw with Sweden and commentators started to question who on the US could provide that attacking spark that seems to have been lacking in this tournament. So far, the only consistent attacking player has been Megan Rapinoe on the wing. The blonde-haired winger is responsible for two of the team’s three goals this tournament, and even against Sweden she was still able to flash moments of creative brilliance on the wing. A relatively weak Nigerian defense could provide the 29-year-old with a prime opportunity to increase her team-leading goal tally.

While Rapinoe has been having a great tournament, the big names up front for the favored US have been largely anonymous. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan have both had limited minutes this tournament, with Wambach coming on as a second half sub against Sweden and Morgan still battling to regain match fitness after coming back from injury. Even though they might not be relied upon as much this game for goals, Wambach and Morgan will have to start finding the back of the net if the US want to seriously contend for the Cup title.

For Nigeria, things are looking pretty bleak in terms of advancing. The Africans will have to not only win against the second best team in the world by an astronomical margin, but they will also have to hope that Sweden and Australia battle to a draw in the group’s other fixture. I know that soccer is famous for its unbelievable finishes but I think this one might be just a little too far out of reach for it to become reality. With that being said, I still fully expect the Nigerian squad to play with passion and to play for the win against the US, and if the Americans go into this match thinking they’ve already won the group it will be a very rude awakening for them.

The major area of concern for the Nigerian squad has to be their defense. In their first two matches of the tournament, they’ve already conceded five goals. Even with the US strike force currently in a dry spell, Nigeria can’t afford to have a shaky defense when coming up against players like Wambach, Morgan, Rapinoe and don’t forget Sydney Leroux. This could be a long game to end Nigeria’s short World Cup dream.

In what is perhaps my least surprising prediction of this tournament, I believe that the US will dominate the match and beat Nigeria to win the group. The Americans have too much talent and experience to let this match slip away. Final score will read US 4-0 Nigeria.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.

 

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