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Five things the USWNT must do to successfully defend the World Cup

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With the Tournament of Nations behind them, the world’s No 1 team is eight weeks from opening their France 2019 qualifying campaign. Here are five things they must do to retain their title

By the time 2017 ended, it seemed as if the US could do little wrong in midfield. Anchored by the partnership of Julie Ertz and Samantha Mewis, plus a rotating cast of talented attack-minded midfielders, Jill Ellis’s team found it easy to dominate matches and out-press their opponents. However, the team was unable to pick up from where they left off in the new year, and still have not found that form. Injuries to both Ertz and Mewis, as well as several others, have forced Ellis to try new things, but hardly anything has matched last year’s success. The midfield has looked stiff at times and has had difficulty fully connecting with the forwards ahead of them, regardless of personnel and opponent. Such was the case in the team’s 1-1 draw with Australia last week, where the trio of Ertz, Morgan Brian, and Lindsey Horan struggled to create chances and in keeping a dynamic Australian attack at bay, particularly in the first half.

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