ORLANDO, Fla. — In simple terms, the United States women’s national team has played in a 4-3-3 formation since the disastrous (but, ultimately, important) 3-5-2 experiment came to a merciful end following the 2017 SheBelieves Cup.
That would be too simplistic a view, however. As any coach will say, formations are only starting points.
Firstly, the Americans largely defend in a 4-2-4 formation, with the No. 10 joining the three forwards on the first line of pressure, regardless of how high up the field that gets set.
Three matches into this World Cup year, US coach Vlatko Andonovski has added wrinkles to a midfield triumvirate that has been the source of external criticism for the past year. Thursday’s 2-0 victory over Canada to open the SheBelieves Cup saw the US once again shift a second midfielder deeper to play alongside Andi Sullivan, creating a double-pivot. After a concerning three-game losing streak towards the end of 2022, that midfield change is paying dividends thus far in 2023.
“We believe in the process that we have and the plan has several stages,” Andonovski said on Thursday after saying he doesn’t read much coverage of the team and isn’t aware of the narratives. “I’m actually very happy with our midfield.”
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