Described as a rematch, Sunday's game between the United States and the Canadian Women's national teams will rehash the classic Olympic semifinal game that was only a minute away from being determined by penalty kicks. Alex Morgan's triumphant header into the back of the net during OT injury time gave the U.S. a second chance to earn their third consecutive gold medal in soccer.
Much has changed in the U.S. camp since. Tom Sermanni was named head coach in 2013 following Pia Sundhage's departure in late 2012. Sermanni brought in fresh faces to further bolster the already defiant team. Christen Press, Kristie Mewis, Yael Averbuch and Whitney Engen are some of the players to join the squad recently.
Press is gradually becoming a goalscoring machine for the U.S. as she has racked up four goals in six appearances including two from her debut in February. However, Sermanni will likely start with Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan up top and use Press off the bench. At times, Press has played in midfield but considering that Sydney Leroux was training for a midfield position likely to fill the void of Megan Rapinoe, it is unlikely that Press will find herself in midfield on Sunday.
A pivotal set back to the Americans game may rest on the shoulders of the defense. Kelley O'Hara suffered an ankle injury in week 7 of the NWSL. Depending on how comfortable she feels on the pitch, her performance could shape the overall strength of the back line. O'Hara plays a vital role as a left back for the team and her crucial tackles assist in keeping the opposition at bay.
The Canadians may be harboring a few resentments towards the visitors. Christine Sinclair recorded a hat trick during the semifinal ,but it was not enough as the U.S. managed to bounce back and equalize every time. Supporting Sinclair from the midfield will be the NWSL's leading goal scorer, Sophie Schimidt. Her ability to help control the midfield in addition to her accurate striking ability is impressive. She will be a marked target for the U.S. as they attempt to shut down any connections being made between Sinclair and Schmidt.
The Canadian midfield has improved upon their strengths since the Olympics. Schmidt, Diana Matheson, Desiree Scott and Kaylyn Kyle are aggressive in the midfield and should be up to the task of battling in the center with the Americans. These midfielders have also assisted their NWSL clubs in recording or assisting in goals. They will also be aided by Melissa Tancredi, a versatile player who does more than just score from her forward position.
With attack-minded fullbacks O'Hara and Ali Krieger expected to start, expect the United States to play down the flanks quite a bit. If the fullbacks can draw attention to themselves and manipulate the Canadian midfield to spread wide, it could open up space for the American forwards and midfielders in the center of the pitch.
Match Date/Time: Sunday June 2 2013 at 4:30 PM ET
Venue: BMO Field, Toronto, ON