The U.S. Women's National Team begin their road to the 2015 FIFA World Cup when they take on Australia on Monday in Group-D play at Winnipeg Stadium in Winnipeg, Canada. The U.S. team is dealing with the injury status to perhaps their most prominent scorer, and arguably the face of the team.
Slowed by a bruised bone to her left knee, Alex Morgan has yet to start a game since early April and is listed as "day-t0-day." The 25-year-old forward, who starred at the 2012 London Olympics, appears to be ready to start in the U.S. opener.
“There’s no question in my mind that my knee won’t be bothering me. I’ll be 100%,” Morgan said on Friday. “I’m looking forward to the World Cup and knowing that’s not going to set me back at all.”
On Saturday, Morgan, who has scored 51 goals in 81 appearances with the U.S. team, posted more encouraging messages.
— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) June 6, 2015
The U.S. enter the 2015 World Cup ranked No. 2 by FIFA, with Germany ahead of them, and France at No. 3. Among the Yanks' Group D opponents, Australia is expected to put up the toughest fight, as the Aussies are ranked No. 10. The rest of the group includes Sweden and Nigeria. The two top teams are guaranteed to advance to the knockout stage.
Head coach Jill Ellis has several players to choose from to start against Australia. She has used 21 players as starters in 2015. It's possible that Ellis will mix and match throughout the group stage so she can find the right balance for the knockout stage.
Here is a projection for the starting 11:
Goalkeeper: Hope Solo
Defenders: Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg
Midfielders: Megan Rapinoe, Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday
Forwards: Abby Wambach, Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan
Bench: Shannon Boxx, Morgan Brian, Lori Chalupny, Whitney Engen, Ashlyn Harris, Tobin Heath, Alyssa Naeher, Kelley O'Hara, Heather O'Reilly, Christen Press, Christine Rampone, Amy Rodriguez
Prediction: USA over Australia, 3-1