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A Word about US Women’s Soccer in the World Cup …

July 6, 2011

Disquietude.

That’s the core vibe I’m feeling watching this US Women’s World Cup Soccer Team.  Be it a product of inexperience, impertinence, erroneous tactics and/or ill-fitting pieces, the 2011 US squad is not adding up to the sum of it’s superb parts, the latest evidence today’s 2-1 loss to a tougher, tactical and motivated but heretofore underwhelming and less talented Sweden side that should splash cold water in the faces of those who bought the US’ No. 1 world ranking as reality instead of poor perception.

While I’m not one to break out the poison pen often, adhering to constructive criticism and choosing optimism, it’s time to call spades. Aside from goalkeeper Hope Solo and striker Abby Wambach, this team lacks poise, particularly on the ball and in the offensive third.  Despite generating six goals in three games, only two of them were the result of offensive design, as the rest were long-distance strikes from supporting players.  It’s not that the US should abandon their quick-strike philosophy, but they would better served to be patient in midfield, probing more instead of trying so hard to make great final passes and create goals out of thin air.  Parsimonious service to the strikers occurs regardless of the personnel combinations, and touch on simple passes against even modest pressure is missing, causing too many cheap giveaways.  Sadly, when the US has created viable chances inside the box, finishing has been frustratingly wayward.

As for individual players, defender Amy LePeilbet was frankly awful, largely responsible for both of Sweden’s goals – one from a penalty kick awarded from her rash challenge in the box, and the other her deflection of a free kick that caught Solo unaware and unable to prevent from finding the net – and I can’t see how she gets another minute in this World Cup.  The rest of the backline lacks pace and has allowed too many scoring chances considering the quality of the opposition so far. Carli Lloyd has been maddeningly inconsistent, and that’s a shade better than anyone else deployed by Head Coach Pia Sundhage in the central midfield.  Megan Rapinoe is better coming off the bench in the second half where her energy is useful against tired defenders on the left, and also since she has been the only productive offensive substitute in three games.

Wambach busted her 12 game scoring slump with the US’ lone goal today (and the first goal scored by a US forward in the tournament, never a good sign), but more production is needed from her despite a sore right Achilles tendon, as Amy Rodriguez has provided nada in Germany and while super-sub Alex Morgan has looked dangerous at times, she has nothing to show for it. Finally, the US really missed Heather O’Reilly and her speed on the right flank against Sweden, and with a troubling groin strain making her return questionable for Sunday’s Quarterfinal (8:00 AM PST, ESPN) against pre-Cup co-favorite Brazil, the US attack lacks dependable options.

Make no mistake: this was a game the Americans had to get a result in, to win Group C and avoid their current, less desirable fate. Multi-goal wins over North Korea (2-0) and Colombia (3-0) obscured several deficiencies that more capable teams have (Sweden) and will (Brazil) exploit in short order, and while the US has flattered to deceive in group play, pretenders are separated from contenders in the knockout stage.  American fans can only hope their ladies find calm and cohesion in the midst of Hurricane Marta and the rest of the approaching Brazilian storm.

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From → Soccer, Sports

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