USWNT must have statement win against Nigeria
By NICK PAPADIS
College Contributor Network
Despite having two positive results in both of its World Cup matches thus far, the United States Women's National Team has had a poor showing.
The USWNT's first match against Australia was a very positive result with a 3-1 win, but the team's performance was less than spectacular. The typical dominance shown by the U.S. was completely not present in their opening match.
Jill Ellis's side struggled to find the combination passes that they are typically so skilled at completing. Though the possession stats ended in favor of the United States, there were apparent struggles with the Australians having almost as many shots with less possession.
The Women's National Team made another step toward a spot in the knockout-stage of the tournament with its 0-0 draw against Sweden on Friday. Though this again seems like a positive result given that one point was taken away from the match, the team again failed to impress.
Ellis's choice to leave all-time leading goal-scorer Abby Wambach out of the starting lineup was a bit curious given the size of the Swedish team. Wambach, at 5-11, offers a quality aerial threat to the American attack.
Additionally, Alex Morgan has been left out of the starting lineup from both matches due recently recovering from a knee injury.
The key to American success as the group stage nears an end is for both Wambach and Morgan to step up as their side takes on Nigeria. Wambach is yet to find the back of the net this World Cup, and desperately needs to score to help her side push on.
Despite neither Wambach or Morgan having scored yet, good performances by the U.S. midfield have been crucial. Megan Rapinoe has had an outstanding campaign in Canada and will hope to continue.
Even with the U.S. currently at the top of its group, the team needs an outstanding performance against Nigeria to make a statement.
Many people are questioning if this team has what it takes to add a third Women's World Cup title to its ranks, and add a third star to the jersey, and a big win is needed to silence the critics.
A substantial victory would help boost moral as the USWNT heads to the knockout stage of the competition, and would also rally support for the team.
With quality performances by Wambach and Co. the USWNT could cruise to a win, but if their form from the previous two matches continues, questions may continue about the team's ability to win it all.
Nick Papadis is a junior at American University majoring broadcast journalism and broadcasts AU Men's Soccer amongst other sports. Nick is an avid Liverpool fan. Follow him on twitter @NPSoccerTalk