NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - The United States women’s national soccer team is one of the favorites to win the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, but don’t expect this year’s tournament to be a walk in the park for the US.
With England and France booth looking to lift the trophy this summer, former USWNT defender Danielle Slaton, who will be an analyst on FOX Sports for the games, says that the team will need to hit the ground running.
“They play Thailand first, and then Chile in Paris on June 16. I think they have to find ways to progress and grow against two teams that they absolutely should beat and should score a lot of goals against,” Slaton said.
Slaton was a member of the US’s 2003 team that shockingly lost to Germany in the semi-finals, an experience that she says is the reason for her concerns about this year’s squad.
“I think, if I’m being honest, the back line is probably the weakest area of this US team right now. You have Crystal Dunn out on the left who is a converted defender, so she’s somebody who can bomb up and down that left side, provide an additional weapon in attack, but she’s still learning the nuances of that position and of what it requires to defend in that space,” Slaton said.
And how the defense plays will have a major impact on how the team’s new goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher will fare as well.
“Talking about Alyssa Naeher and the departure of Hope Solo and can Naeher step up and fill the shoes of Hope Solo, I think that Alyssa Naeher has had to face more shots because the back line is still developing and evolving so the task is going to be even harder for Alyssa Naeher,” Slaton said.
However head coach Jill Ellis says she’s made tactical changes to prepare the team, especially after the 2016 Olympics in Brazil when the USWNT was eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals.
“I think that Jill Ellis has shown us that experience matters in her roster selection,” Slaton said. “I’m eager to see Alex Morgan. She didn’t have a huge 2015 World Cup tournament, she was managing injury and coming back and this is her moment to shine.”
The USWNT will begin their quest to defend their title against Thailand on June 11 at 3 p.m. EST.