(CBS Local)- After a 3-0 loss in their opener of Olympic play, the USWNT bounced back well, routing New Zealand 6-1 to move into second place in Group G with one match left. Their final match won’t be an easy one as they face another familiar opponent in Australia.
There’s a lot on the line in this third group play match set for the early morning hours of Tuesday July 27 here in the U.S. As the team prepares for its final match of group play, here are five things U.S. fans should know heading into the match.
The Americans and Matildas have faced each other 30 times but only once before in Olympic play back in the 2004 Athens games when the sides drew 1-1 in a group stage match. The U.S. leads the all-time series between the two sides 26-1-3 with Australia’s first and only win against the Americans coming back in June of 2018.
The Matildas have had better results recently against the U.S. with a 1-1-1 record in the last three meetings. The most recent meeting was a win for the U.S. however a 5-3 result that included Alex Morgan tallying her 100th international goal.
Head Coach Familiarity With USWNT
Australia’s head coach Tony Gustavsson was the assistant coach for the U.S. under Pia Sundehage in 2012 and then again under Jill Ellis from 2014-2019. He’s still relatively early in his tenure with the Australian side as he was named head coach in September of 2020, but due to the COVID pandemic, he didn’t coach his first match with the team until April of this year.
Olympic Play So Far For Aussies
Like the U.S., the Australians have won one match and lost the other in group play. They controlled the vast majority of their opener against New Zealand winning 2-1 with the lone goal for NZ coming in stoppage time of the second half.
Against Sweden, things were quite different. The Matildas took a 2-1 lead early in the second half thank to a Sam Kerr header but the Swedes answered with three straight goals to put away a 4-2 victory. Kerr did have an opportunity for a hat trick but her try from the penalty spot with the Aussies down 3-2 was saved by Swedish keeper Hedvig Lindahl.
Player To Watch
Forward Sam Kerr is one of the most prolific goal scorers in women’s soccer currently. Since debuting for Australia in 2009, she’s tallied 45 goals in 95 appearances or just under a goal every two games. She’s three goals shy of Lisa De Vanna to become Australia’s top goal scorer all time.
Kerr also holds the record for most NWSL goals all-time with 77 in 119 games. She holds that record despite not having played in the league since 2019 when she transferred to Chelsea of the Women’s Super League.
Advancing Scenarios For U.S.
Though both the Americans and Australians have three points in group play, the U.S. is ahead on goal differential thanks to their 6-1 rout of New Zealand which leaves them +2 for the tournament. Australia is -1 after their loss to Sweden. So, there are several ways in which the Americans could advance.
The first way is obvious. Win and you’re through. Most likely a win would mean that the Americans head to the knockout stage as the second team from Group G short of a Swedish loss to New Zealand by at least three goals or a Swedish loss and a U.S. win by at least four goals. But, regardless of seeding, if the USWNT wins Tuesday morning, they’re in.
The second would be for the U.S. and Australia to tie, at which point the Americans would be through thanks to a better goal differential.
The third, and least desirable, would be if the U.S. loses to the Matildas by two goals or fewer and they would likely be through to the knockout round as the best third place team from Groups F and G. In Group F, China would need to beat the Netherlands (unlikely) or Zambia would need to beat Brazil (more unlikely) in order to get ahead of the U.S. on points. Again, this is the least desirable scenario for the U.S.
In the first scenario, the Americans would end up facing either the Netherlands or Brazil (winner of Group F) if they end up in second in Group G. If they were able to overtake the Swedes thanks to a big loss for Sweden against New Zealand (unlikely) they would face the third place team from Group E or F (Japan or China or Zambia).
In the second scenario, they would end up facing either the Netherlands or Brazil (winner of Group F). And in the third scenario, the U.S. would draw the winner of Group E (Great Britain or Canada).
The USWNT faces Australia in the final game of Group G play on Tuesday July 27th at 4 a.m. Eastern Time.