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Vlatko Andonovski: USWNT is in ‘preseason mode’ at SheBelieves Cup

(Omar Vega/Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national team got off to a rough start Sunday, as the squad struggled against Japan’s high press.

In the end, though, Mallory Swanson once again played hero, scoring the game’s only goal right before the half.

“Obviously we knew it’s gonna be different. We knew that we’re gonna see different challenges and there were moments in the game that we got exposed and we were forced inside,” coach Vlatko Andonovski said. “But we made some changes and adjust[ed] our system a little bit. The players had to adjust on the fly and I think that was a very good learning opportunity, a very good moment for us because we were able to solve problems.”

This game’s starting lineup looked different than it did in Thursday’s 2-0 win against Canada. The USWNT coaching staff wanted to see new players but wanted to manage players’ minutes, Andonvovski said.

“Our players are still in preseason mode. They’re not ready for three 90 minute games and that’s why players like Alex or Mal are not finishing the games, otherwise I’m sure with the quality of players that they are, they’ll be playing all the way through,” he said.

“In game three, first thing we’re gonna do, we’re gonna see what the players are that need to be managed from a minute standpoint, hopefully nobody from the medical reason. And then we’re gonna start making decisions in terms of who’s gonna start and how much they’re gonna play.”