The United States women’s national team take on Thailand in an international soccer friendly in Ohio on Thursday evening, with the hosts aiming to bounce back from the disappointment of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last month (8pm ET on ESPN2).
The United States were widely predicted to win the gold medal in Brazil but ultimately fell short of that objective after suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of Sweden on penalties in the quarter-finals. It was a very disappointing outcome for Jill Ellis’ side, who were aiming to build on their triumphs at the Games in Atlanta in 1996, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
It is important that the manager and team do not dwell on their shortcomings in Brazil as they get ready to begin a new cycle of matches. Team USA go head-to-head with the Netherlands in another friendly on Sunday, before a double header against Switzerland in just over five weeks’ time.
Thailand did not compete in the Olympics, with their summer instead taken up by the AFF Women’s Championship. Team coach Spencer Prior and his squad won the competition for Southeast Asian nations, with Thailand defeating Vietnam on a penalty shoot-out in the final. Prior is a former English professional soccer player who represented Manchester City, Leicester City and Derby Country among others in his days as a player.
The Chaba Kaew are ranked 32nd in the world at present, below Finland, Costa Rica and the Republic of Ireland, with the USWNT at the top of the pile. Thailand have only taken part in the World Cup on one occasion. That was in 2015, when they were eliminated at the first hurdle after finished third in a group that featured heavyweights Germany, Norway and Ivory Coast.
Ellis has named a 21-woman squad for Thursday’s encounter, with goalkeeper Hope Solo gone after her national team contract was controversially terminated as a result of the comments she made following the loss to Sweden. Ashlyn Harris and Alyssa Naeher will therefore be vying for the No. 1 jersey in her absence, with the Orlando Pride and Chicago Red Stars’ custodians currently possessing just 15 international caps between them.
Experienced squad members such as FC Kansas City duo Heather O’Reilly and Becky Sauerbrunn, Washington Spirit’s Ali Krieger, Houston Dash’s Carli Lloyd, Seattle Reign’s Megan Rapinoe and Orlando Pride’s Alex Morgan (pictured) have been included in the group. Ellis also looks set to give opportunities to younger players like Mallory Pugh (18), Samantha Mewis (23), Morgan Brian (23), Emily Sonnett (22) and Crystal Dunn (24).
Thailand’s squad of players includes Swedish side Ostersunds DFF pair Thanatta Chawong and Taneekarn Dangda, with the rest of Prior’s group made up of those who ply their trade in the domestic Thai leagues. They are, in truth, unlikely to pose too much of a threat to Team USA at the Mapfre Stadium in Columbus. Ellis’ women are understandably rated as heavy favourites and every pundit’s prediction to come out on top.
Indeed, this preview’s verdict is that a thrashing could be on the cards, with a six or seven-goal winning margin well within the realms of possibility. The United States will be desperate to respond from their early Olympics exit with a strong performance and positive result on home soil.
In terms of other bets worth considering, backing Alex Morgan, who has found the back of the net 69 times in 116 appearances for the national team, to score the first goal of the game is one that stands a reasonably good chance of being successful. The US-friendly sportsbooks have yet to price up odds for this match and we will update this preview, and our picks, when they do. That said, these are our predictions:
- Betting Pick: Take USWNT to beat Thailand women by the correct score margin of 7-0.
- Betting Pick: This preview expects Alex Morgan to score the first goal of the game.