The USWNT can slow the momentum of table-topping Spain when the two meet at the 2020 SheBelieves Cup in Harrison, New Jersey, on Sunday.
Fresh from beating holders England 2-0 on Friday, the U.S. will feel confident about taking top spot at Red Bull Arena, despite Spain's impressive start. Thursday's 3-1 win over Japan showcased the attacking quality in Spain's ranks, with Athletic Club Bilbao's Lucia Garcia helping herself to a brace.
It will be tough for Garcia and Co. to match the firepower of the U.S. Carli Lloyd and Christen Press were on the scoresheet against the Lionesses, and there are plenty of other match-winners in Vlatko Andonovski's squad.
Date: Sunday, March 8
Time: 5 p.m. ET/9 p.m. GMT
TV Info: ESPN, BBC Four Red Button
Live Stream: ESPN
Lloyd's excellent strike in Orlando, Florida, offered a reminder of the 37-year-old's enduring class. Her technique and keen eye for goal still provide an outlet for the creativity in the U.S. ranks, a quality best summed up by Lindsey Horan's deft through ball to tee up Lloyd:
Despite how well Lloyd and Co. played, Andonovski challenged his players to do more. He said, per Julie Poe of Pro Soccer USA: "I'm so happy for the win. We're happy about it. But we know when we go into game review tomorrow, the players don't want to hear how good we did. [It's] what can we get better at."
Espousing a demanding message is good preparation ahead of facing a Spain team likely to move the ball quicker between the lines than England. Garcia offers a natural focal point in the final third, but it's Barcelona No. 10 Jennifer Hermoso whose vision, movement and guile will pose the most problems to the U.S. defence.
Hermoso was on the scoresheet when these two teams met in the last 16 at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup. It was a game settled by two Megan Rapinoe penalties, but Hermoso still impressed.
The 29-year-old's game is based on dropping off the front and exploiting pockets of space with neat touches while creating room for runners from wide areas to break through the middle.
Controlling Hermoso's movement will demand another strong game from Horan in midfield, while Julie Ertz's positional sense will also be key. If the back four is protected, the U.S. will have a strong enough base to overpower Spain.