The U.S. plays Portugal in its final group stage match, and it’s a must-win for the Americans if they want to control their tournament destiny and ensure they avoid their earliest World Cup exit.

The U.S. has won four of the eight women’s World Cups and has never finished worse than third place, according to NBC Sports.

Only the top two teams in each group advance to the knockout round of 16. The U.S. is in a group with Vietnam, the Netherlands and Portugal. The Americans beat Vietnam 3-0 and tied with the Netherlands 1-1.

The Americans and the Dutch sit atop of the group, and the U.S. holds the goal differential tiebreaker because it scored three more goals than Vietnam in its win and the Netherlands only scored one more goal than Portugal in its win.

How can the U.S. advance to the Round of 16?

If the U.S. wins or ties against Portugal, its secures a berth in the next round. If it loses, it will rely on the result of the Vietnam-Netherlands game.

If one of the following scenarios happens, the U.S. will advance to the Round of 16:

  • The U.S. beats Portugal.
  • The U.S. draws with Portugal.
  • The U.S. loses, but Vietnam beats the Netherlands by three or more points.

To win the group, the U.S. has to either beat Portugal and the Netherlands beats Vietnam by two or fewer goals, or both the U.S.-Portugal and Netherlands-Vietnam games end in a draw, according to Fox Sports.

The U.S. will want to score as many goals against Portugal to increase its goal differential and help the Americans finish as the group winners, which would most likely pit them against Italy. If the U.S. finishes as the group runner-ups, the team will have to face Sweden, who beat the Americans in the Tokyo Olympics group stage and eliminated them from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

When is the U.S. vs. Portugal match?

The match starts at 1 a.m. MDT on Tuesday. This is the earliest game the U.S. has played this tournament.

How to watch the U.S. vs. Portugal

The game will be broadcast on Fox, and fans can stream the game on FoxSports.com and the Fox Sports App.

A full replay of the match will be available on FoxSports.com here.

What to look for in the U.S. vs. Portugal match

The U.S. needs a different result against Portugal. Here are three changes the U.S. needs to make from their draw with the Netherlands:

The U.S. needs to change up the lineup

In its match against the Netherlands, the U.S. used the same lineup as it did against Vietnam in their Wold Cup opener, and it didn’t yield the results both the team and fans wanted.

Rose Lavelle was cleared to start the game, but she didn’t enter the game until the second half. She provided a much-needed boost to the U.S. and assisted on the Lindsey Horan revenge goal, the U.S.’s lone goal of the game. Head coach Vlatko Andonovski needs to start Lavelle.

The U.S. needs to use its substitutes

Each team is allowed five substitutes in a game, but Andonovski only opted for one sub against the Netherlands: Lavelle.

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The goal is to win, and to do that, the U.S. has to score. With its lack of success against the Netherlands, Andonovski should have subbed forward Lynn Williams, the second all-time leading scorer in NWSL history, into the game to try to get some more points on the board, and he even admitted that she would have been the next sub. Which begs the question: Why didn’t he sub Williams in?

“We were around the goal the whole time, and I just didn’t want to disrupt the rhythm at that point because sometimes a substitute comes in and it might take a minute or two to get into a rhythm,” he said after the game, according to ESPN.

The U.S. needs to score first

In the 17th minute, the U.S. conceded a goal to the Netherlands and spent the rest of the first half playing from behind. The team not only had to worry about not conceding another goal, but it had to worry about scoring an equalizer before it could even think about taking the lead and winning.

An early U.S. goal could be a game-changer and build momentum and confidence for the team to draw on the rest of the game.

If the U.S. loses and fails to advance out of the group stage, it will be the most disappointing moment in the team’s history. It will also most certainly signal the end of Andonovski’s tenure as head coach.

United States’ Trinity Rodman is airborne as she attempts to control the ball during the Women’s World Cup Group E soccer match between the United States and the Netherlands in Wellington, New Zealand, Thursday, July 27, 2023. | Andrew Cornaga, Associated Press