The USA women’s national soccer team take on Romania at the Avaya Stadium in San Jose this midweek in the first match of a non-competitive double-header against the European outfit (10pm ET Thursday, ESPN 2). Here is our preview with betting predictions and picks for a game in which USWNT will start strong favorites with the oddsmakers.
Jill Ellis’ (pictured) side made it four wins from four since the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro last month, triumphing twice against Switzerland (by scorelines of 4-0 and 5-1) after previously getting the better of Thailand (9-1) and the Netherlands (3-1) in September.
The United States certainly look to be in fine fettle at present, with the three-time World Cup winners and four-time Olympic champions continuing to rebuild after a disappointing exit at the hands of Sweden at the quarter-final stage in Brazil. Everyone associated with the country’s women’s team will be desperate to end 2016 on a high note with back-to-back triumphs over Romania.
Perhaps even more important than the result is the manner of the United States’ performances against a team who have only lost one of their last seven encounters – and three of their last 15 – in all competitions.
Romania, indeed, head into these matches against Ellis’ women in good form, although they will have been extremely disappointed to narrowly lose their European Championship 2017 qualification play-off to Portugal on the away goals rule just two weeks ago. It is important that Mirel Albon’s players bounce back from that setback as soon as possible and do not let their frustration linger for too long, although two games against a side as strong as USWNT is perhaps not the best way for the Romanians to try and get the play-off result out of their system, particularly as it would have been the nation’s first ever participation in a European Championship or World Cup finals competition. The U.S. must ensure they do not let complacency creep in when they face the team currently ranked 36th in the world, lower than the likes of Vietnam, Wales and Thailand.
Ellis selected a new-look squad for October’s meetings with Switzerland, with 11 uncapped players included in the group. Lynn Williams, Kealia Ohai, Casey Short, Abby Dahlkemper and Andi Sullivan all impressed enough to earn recalls, while Adrianna Franch and Kristen Edmonds will be looking to make their first appearances in their country’s colours. More experienced stars such as Ali Krieger, Megan Rapinoe, Meghan Klingenberg, Alex Morgan and Julie Johnston have returned after being left out against the Swiss. The legendary midfielder Heather O’Reilly, who turned out 231 times over a 14-year career, has now retired from international duty.
Romania’s group of players is predominantly comprised of those who ply their trade in the nation’s domestic league. But a handful of their stars are employed by clubs overseas including Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Andreea Paraluta, Medyk Konin defender Maria Ficzay, Konak Belediyespor’s Raluca Sarghe, Fortuna Hjorring midfielder Florentina Spânu, the Romania captain, plus striker Laura Rus. The last named represents Icheon Daekyo in South Korea’s WK League.
The Romanians have a number of talented young players in their ranks, including 21-year-old forwards Mara Bate and Alexandra Lunca, 19-year-old midfielders Cristina Carp and Beatrice Tarasila, and 17-year-old defender Teodora Meluta.
Despite the fact their rivals are in fair form coming into this game, it is difficult to look past a comfortable victory for Team USA at the Avaya Stadium. Ellis’ side will be in confident mood and should simply have too much attacking firepower for the Romanians, who could be low on belief after their play-off defeat.
So we turn our attention to the betting picks. These women’s soccer games tend to get priced up by the best US-friendly online bookmakers very close to kick-off time. While the odds are not yet available that won’t stop us giving our betting predictions:
- A 4-0 home victory is this preview’s pick for the correct score margin of victory.
- The Washington Spirit winger Crystal Dunn looks to be a good value choice to find the back of the net before any other player.