US women’s manager Vlatko Andonovski said he was looking forward to facing an “unpredictable” Brazilian side for both teams in the SheBelieves Cup second game.
After the 4-1 win over Argentina on Thursday and the Americans 1-0 win over Canada, Brazil are currently leading the tournament standings in terms of goal difference with the USA. With the US up against Argentina in the final game of the tournament, Sunday’s game will likely decide who will finish first.
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However, the tournament is more about preparing for the Tokyo Olympics later this year and Andonovski believes Brazil will be a unique challenge for his team.
“There is no one pattern that we can say, ‘Okay, they’ll do that every time,” he said on a Zoom call with reporters Overcoming challenges or having to find solutions in a split second. I look forward to seeing how our team does it [will] react.”
Marta remains one of the main threats to Brazil. Andonovski notes that the scouting folder for the six-time Best FIFA Player for Women award is “pretty thick” given the player’s longevity. She is assisted by North Carolina Courage striker Debinha in leading the Brazilian attack.
“She’s an amazing player,” Andonovski said of Debinha. “Her creativity and ability to move around and play between the lines in the middle of the field, but also behind the line and in the side games is amazing. I think she’s one of the best players in the world.”
Andonovski had previously spoken of how disappointing the US team’s performance was in beating Canada on Thursday. Even so, he highlighted how the US fired 29 shots and had 27 open game crosses. He also noted that many of his players are still in preseason mode as the NWSL season doesn’t start until April 9th with the Challenge Cup.
“They didn’t play, they didn’t have any contact with their teams. They didn’t have regular games on a weekly basis,” he said. “OK, once it all comes into play I’m not worried about that. As long as we create opportunities, we’re going in the right direction because the execution will come.”
With the USA playing three games in seven days during the tournament, Andonovski has to reconcile his line-up to a certain extent. One change he hinted at was that Rose Lavelle, the game winner’s goalscorer against Canada, will see more of the field.
Lavelle has a history of injuries but Andonovski said he wasn’t worried about the midfielder’s health based on what he saw.
“We’re not worried at all,” Andonovski said of Lavelle. “She plays hard, she trains hard, so we’re happy to have her here. And I think we’ll see the best of Rose as we move forward.”