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HomeSoccerFIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC)WWC News: USWNT meets Portugal with Group E top spot in sight

WWC News: USWNT meets Portugal with Group E top spot in sight

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The United States Women’s National Team’s path to the knockout round of the Women’s World Cup is simple.

If the two-time defending World Cup champions earn at least a point against Portugal at Auckland, New Zealand, early morning Tuesday (3 a.m. ET) they advance. A win, and even a tie, can put the team on top of Group E and forge an easier path within the knockout round.

There is a scenario where the U.S. could move on with a loss but it would require heavily favored Netherlands losing to Vietnam, which has lost both matches without scoring and already has been eliminated.

“It’s a pressure moment, and that’s what the tournament is,” U.S. forward Megan Rapinoe said. “Now, every single game from here on out is that pressure moment. And that’s the best part of being in the World Cup.”

With two countries advancing from the group, the U.S. and Netherlands each have four points at 1-0-1 after they played to a 1-1 tie on Wednesday. Portugal (1-1-0, 3 points) still has a chance to advance.

The U.S. holds a plus-two goal differential advantage over Netherlands.

The goal differential is key since the Group E winner will play the second-place team in Group G which consists of Sweden (FIFA world ranking 3), Italy (16), Argentina (28) and South Africa (54).

The second-place finisher in Group E faces the top Group G team, likely Sweden (six points), which already has secured a knockout spot. Italy has three points while South Africa and Argentina have one apiece.

Portugal (No. 21) earned its first World Cup win, 2-0 over Vietnam on Thursday, but know the top-ranked Americans, who beat Vietnam 3-0 on July 21, will be a tougher challenge.

“This victory is dedicated to all the players, past and present,” Portugal coach Francisco Neto said. “The United States will be a completely different game. … Even though we had a victory, there are lots of things we can improve.”

U.S coach Vlatko Andonovski started the same 11 players in both matches and the lone substitute against Netherlands, Rose Lavelle, had the assist on Lindsey Horan’s game-tying goal.

It was only the second time in the past 40 USWNT matches, since the team’s opening game in 2007, that only one substitute was used.

–Field Level Media

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