Move Julie Ertz into midfield, please! How the USWNT should line up in Women's World Cup clash with Sweden

Ertz USWNT 2023Getty

Generally, for a team the caliber of the U.S. women's national team, the group stage is the time for a little rotation. Coaches can save an extra surprise, some extra razzle dazzle, for the knockout stage, catching opponents off guard by not necessarily showing their true team until it really counts.

Well, it would be stunning if Vlatko Andonovski had an ace up his sleeve at this point. If he did, he'd have played it by now.

The U.S. head into their Round of 16 clash with Sweden as the subject of criticism, having underperformed expectations in the group stage. After a 3-0 win over Vietnam, the U.S. drew both the Netherlands and Portugal, with the former being way less acceptable than the later. In fact, the U.S. was one post away from elimination. For a team of the USWNT's reputation, it's stunning that the situation was that dire.

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So, they now limp into the knockout stage, and they do so without arguably their most important player. Rose Lavelle is out, having picked up two yellow cards to earn a suspension. Replacing her will be nearly impossible, but it's something Andonovski will have to try and do.

The question is, then, how does Andonovski line up the USWNT in this one? Does he unleash some surprises, or does he trust the team that stumbled through the group stage to find their way? GOAL takes a look at how the USWNT should look against Sweden...