(Apologies for the delay on this…turns out when your best friend’s getting married–today–it kills your internet access.)
…that would be TSG. Been a lot of fun following the ladies for the last year about…
• Abby Wambach is a lot more dangerous than you think.
The cries that Wambach is lacking a big something something or a detriment to the team–to this writer–seem ludicrous. While Wambach hasn’t been the dominant player she has been in the past, she’s still exceedingly valuable up top. Too valuable for the criticism she is receiving. She’s just not the Wambach of four years ago, due to both wear-and-tear and here what seems to be now-chronic heal problem.
The Wambach I see playing for the United States is extremely smart player–wasn’t she always–who knows when and where to use here body, challenge for reception on a goal kick or come back in to the midfield to do a little hold-up play. It’s no secret that teams are collapsing on here and it’s opening up space for Lauren Cheney, Carli Lloyd and Heather O’Reilly–all who have scored in this World Cup.
• Leave Alex Morgan on the bench.
Is she a dynamic scorer? Absolutely.
Does she make smart runs off-the-ball that are beyond her years–absolutely.
However, Alex Morgan as a sub is in a near perfect role. She’s so dangerous off the bench that it’s been difficult for teams–as Sweden found on Wednesday–to contend with her and adjust within a half.
Amy Rodriguez has been uneven at best as Wambach’s partner in crime up top, but Morgan is too valuable late game to remove from she does best–which is re-energize an attack and force defenses to counter her in real time.
• Do “something” about the central midfield
(Update: US going with same midfield against Brazil that was their 1st team in the tourney).
While the backline did the US in today to end group play, the long-troubled center midfield pairing of Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd has looked “okay” at best against subpar competition and looked average today against an opponent with a little more juice.
It was an excellent move by Pia Sundhage to bring in Lauren Cheney to play off the left flank and collapse the middle with her late in-cutting drives to the hoop. This left the left flank open a little bit on the counter–which was a better option than allowing a team to attack at a faster rate through the center of the pitch on a straight line.
However, come Sunday, the US will have to contend with the serious forward chops of Marta and company. The biggest danger? The play will materialize and go down before Boxx–and even Llloyd–can get back and help.
That’s trouble for the US who have been caught up against inferior opponents only to be saved by a miscue or Rampone or Buehler track down–which is not an enviable thing to rely on.
Without having the benefit of a history of games in our back pocket, we’ll throw out the very paper-thin suggestions of starting Lori Lindsey instead of Boxx versus Brazil or even sacrificing Rodriguez, pushing Cheney up just a tad in a more withdrawn forward-central helper role and putting Megan Rapinoe opposite Heather O’Reilly on the other wing.
With Cheney in a withdrawn forward role the US will have some more bodies in the midfield to slow Brazil.