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Archive for July 28, 2019

July 28, 2019 — Five things that have to go right

There have been the usual previews written about the Pan American Games women’s tournament. But this one is going to be different.

The Applebees, two-time defending Pan Am champions, are facing a Hobson’s choice when it comes to trying to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The U.S. could make it to Tokyo by beating the No. 3 team in the world once, if the team meets Argentina in the knockout stage of the tournament. Failing that, the U.S. would have to beat another Top 10 team twice in the winner-take-all Olympic qualification series.

Now, the last two Olympic cycles, the States came in as heavy underdogs while Argentina was piling up videogame-type numbers of goals in the prelims. The U.S. was able to beat Argentina through the goalkeeping of Jackie Briggs, the defense of Lauren Crandall and Rachel Dawson, and the key goals of Michelle Vittese.

But none of these four players are in the side, and a very young team is going to have to jell together quickly in order to present Argentina with any kind of meaningful resistance.

Here are five things that are going to have to happen for the U.S. to maximize its potential at Lima:

1. Youth should be served. This team has some of the best young talent under the age of 23 that America has ever thrust into the fire of international competition. Erin Matson, Margaux Paolino, and Mackenzie Allessie have been awesome at times during their international careers and need to step it up a level.

2. The core defense as leaders. Alyssa Manley and Caitlin Van Sickle are the only two backliners with more than 100 caps, and will have to get the rest of their defensive partners to play up to the level of their opponents.

3. The battery must produce. Kat Sharkey and Ashley Hoffman have been the top options on penalty corners, and they definitely need to up the percentage from what it was during the FIH Pro League.

4. Who’s the next Carli Lloyd? There needs to be that one player who comes through with big goals in big games. Who is going to be this generation’s Michelle Vittese?

5. Kelsey Bing needs the tournament of a lifetime. More than once, the Stanford product has been named Woman of the Match during the Pro League. In a short tournament, a goalkeeper can make all the difference.