Archive for the ‘USWNT’ Category

USWNT: Forwards, March

Editors’s Note:  The US Women are about to kickoff their World Cup, TSG guest columnist Maura Gladys concludes the positional review with the forwards. This piece written last week.

Part I:  Defense: USWNT positioning more core US backline success than experience.

Part II: USWNT: About That Midfield

Lauren Cheney's warm-up golazo against Mexico might have earned her the starting nod tomorrow.....

The United States is poised to have it’s trademark potent offense in Germany next week, thanks to a strong mix of veterans and bright, young talent. Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez are pretty clear-cut starters, and should be. Wambach is big, tall, fast and ferocious. She’s the clear the central point of the offense, and her 118 goals in 157 games confirms that.

Amy Rodriguez seems to be the best option to pair with Wambach. Yes, A-Rod blew about a million chances against Mexico, and it was fellow forward Lauren Cheney who netted the game-winner, but Rogriguez has the experience and complementary style that pairs nicely with Wambach. And the two are finally linking up effectively. They struggled finding each other in the two games against Japan, but looked much improved against Mexico.

Then there’s Alex Morgan. Morgan is a firecracker of a player who makes an immediate impact on the game the moment her feet hit the field. She proved that when she netted the game-winner against Italy last fall and created several great opportunities against Japan on May 18 with her speed and timing. In short, she’s the perfect catalyst to come off the bench in the second half to give the team an offensive spark in a close game.

The big question is when Sundhage will choose to bring her in. Against Japan, with the U.S. already leading, Morgan entered in the 61st  minute. But against Mexico, with the U.S. deadlocked in a scoreless tie, and struggling to put the ball in the net, Sundhage waited until the 76th minute to insert Morgan. During that game she also dropped back Lauren Cheney into the midfield when she subbed out Amy Rodriguez, ensuring that there would only be two strikers instead of bumping up a third striker to add some extra offense when a key goal was clearly needed. Sundhage’s justification for this was that the two striker system complements Morgan and Wambach’s skills together, and so adding a third forward would take away from that effectiveness.

This raises a few red flags. If Mexico was a meaningful World Cup game, and Lauren Cheney didn’t save the day with her wonderstrike, the coach would probably take some heat about not throwing a bit more offense forward. That kind of hesitancy to take risks during close games is a bit of a concern, especially for games like North Korea, where possession might be a rare commodity and the U.S. might need to capitalize on the few chances they get.

Let’s not forget aboiut Lauren Cheney. While Cheney will not likely beat out Rodriguez for that starting spot next to Wambach, she adds an important dimension to the squad. Not only does she possess the ability to change a game with one strike (Mexico, anyone?), she can also drop back into midfield and provide support there.

 

Overall, the front line is polished, fast and aggressive, and should be the strongest group of performers in Germany.

USWNT Countdown: Part II: About That Midfield

Editors’s Note:  The US Women are on the ground in Germany, TSG guest columnist Maura Gladys is taking a look at each positional group. Today, the midfield.

Part I:  Defense: USWNT positioning more core US backline success than experience.

Carli Lloyd manages the middle for the USWNT

The midfield is both the strongest and weakest aspect of the United States’ game. There are no personnel issues, as the starting midfield will almost undoubtedly be Megan Rapinoe on the left wing, Heather O’Reilly on the right, and Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd in the middle with Boxx playing a holding midfield position and Lloyd creating more of the attack.

Despite knowing the likely lineup, there are still several kinks that need to be worked out, and not where you would think.

Heather O’Reilly and Megan Rapinoe are thriving on the wings, while the central midfield tandem of Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd are struggling to click, leaving the middle of the field dangerously vulnerable.

Rapinoe and O’Reilly’s play in the three warm up matches before the squad left for Austria confirmed the notion that the wings are the team’s strongest component. The two are playing like true wingers, sending in mouth-watering crosses, running at defenders and charging into the box when the moment calls for it. O’Reilly’s play in the friendly against Japan on May 18 is textbook for how a winger should play. She set up the U.S.’s first goal by working the wing, then finding Lloyd at the top of the box for an easy slot in. Then, she created a goal for herself, finding space and ripping a shot past the goalkeeper. While she hasn’t showed up on the scoreline lately, Rapinoe has been just as effective. She worked well with left back Amy LePeilbet against Mexico, and sent in several great services to Abby Wambach and Amy Rodriguez. She did flub a few chances in front of the goal, but seriously, who didn’t in that match.

In those warm-up games, a lot of the attack stemmed from the wings, so Rapinoe and O’Reilly will be expected to shoulder a lot of the offensive load in creating opportunities for their teammates and themselves.

One of the reasons that a lot of that offense will be funneled down the wings is because of the struggles of Shannon Boxx and Carli Lloyd to establish a strong presence in the middle.  Lloyd and Boxx have enough caps between them to merit full veteran status. Yet, they just haven’t clicked the way you would think two players of their stature would this close to the World Cup.

They both have their strong and weak points. Boxx is a gritty, scrappy defensive mid, but she will often leave her position and get pulled up into the play, leaving the center of the midfield weak, and sometimes, (especially when a fullback has pushed up) hanging the defense out to dry. Lloyd excels at creating scoring chances for herself, but she struggles to distribute from the midfield effectively and often loses possession.

That said, the central midfield isn’t a mess. It’s just that not as much offense flows from it and it isn’t as tight as you would expect from two veterans with so much experience.

Substitute-wise, Lori Lindsay often relieves Boxx, while Tobin Heath and Kelly O’Hara pitch in on the wings. Forward Lauren Cheney can also sometimes drop back and play a midfielder roll, like she did in the game against Mexico. But, it’s not likely that many of them will see much time.

USWNT: Positioning More Core To US Backline Success Than Experience

Editors’s Note:  The US Women are on the ground in Germany, but how will their back four fare on the pitch?

TSG guest columnist Maura Gladys takes a look. Offer her some feedback.

Christie Rampone, has nearly all the "Been there, done that" of the back four.

A quick scan down the U.S. Women’s World Cup roster and it looks like the U.S. boasts a veteran back line. With Christie Rampone 35, the only holdover from the 1999 World Cup, Amy LePeilbet, 29, Heather Mitts, 32, Ali Krieger, 26, and Rachel Buehler,

Mitts, for all her experience, will likely be doing here high-5'ing on the sideline this summer...

Stephanie Cox and Becky Sauerbrunn, all 25, the average age is a seasoned 28.75. However, the experience of the group is a far different story. Take away Mitts, who will not likely see many minutes this tournament, and LePeilbet, Krieger, Buehler, Cox and Sauerbrunn collectively total 197 caps, 37 less than Rampone has amassed in her career.

More numbers?

Total number of world cup appearance? Six. Four for Rampone, two for Cox.

Olympic appearances? Three for Rampone, two for Mitts and one for Buehler and Cox.

But numbers only show so much. The more significant issue is whether this perceived lack of experience will negatively affect the play of the U.S.’s defense.

Short answer? No.

Slightly longer answer?

Continue reading

If At First, Second & Third You Don’t Succeed, Call In Lauren Cheney

Editors’s Note: Maura Gladys is a former–reformed :>–ESPN writer trialing for the The Shin Guardian. Please use the comment section to let us know what you’d like to hear about the women’s national team as they prepare for World Cup 2011.

Abby Wambach hoists up Lauren Cheney after her strike at the death.

It’s hard to believe that one team can not score in as many ways as the U.S. Women’s National Team did today in their send-off match against Mexico at Red Bull Arena.

Wide right.

Wide left.

Too high.

Side netting.

Decent look but not enough on the shot. Header right at the goalkeeper. Shot on an open goal that’s cleared by a splaying defender. In the end–the very, very, end–it was the one way that the U.S. did score that mattered as the U.S. squeaked by Mexico 1-0 courtesy of a a brilliant Lauren Cheney strike in the 92nd minute.

The overarching narrative of the match was that of a frustrated United States team that lacked absolutely any semblance of finishing against a less-than-great Mexico side led by a brave 16-year-old goalkeeper who shut down almost every U.S. attempt.

The U.S. started the match aggressively, winning nearly every ball on the ground and in the air.

Continue reading

Lauren Cheney, Boom: US Women Beat Mexico

We’ll have a review up shortly.

But Lauren Cheney with an absolute boombasa in stoppage time as US beat Mexico in Harrison, NJ in a World Cup tune-up.

USWNT 2, Japan 0: Taking A Step To Make Tarpley’s Injury A Footnote

Editors’s Note: Maura Gladys is a former–reformed :>–ESPN writer trialing for the The Shin Guardian. Please use the comment section to let us know what you’d like to hear about the women’s national team as they prepare for World Cup 2011 and another unique hairstyle from head coach Pia Sundhage.

Lindsay Tarpley became a Twitter phenomenon this week...for a regrettable reason.

Going into yesterday’s friendly against Japan, there was speculation that the United States would struggle without their star Lindsay Tarpley, who tore her ACL on May 14 and will now miss all of this summer’s World Cup.

The exquisite play of Heather O’Reilly and some promising flashes from youngster Alex Morgan tonight sought to silence that notion as the US women beat Japan for the second time in five days.

Goals from Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly were the difference as the US ladies defeated Japan 2-0 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. They now prep for their June 5th send-off match against Mexico–retribution or motivation0–and next month’s Women’s World Cup.

Tarpley’s absence is a blow to the US. Her versatile play and ability to come up big in important games is well-stated and on record (re: 2004 Olympic gold medal game). Tonight it was UNC product O’Reilly providing the salve for Tarpley’s injury.

The winger was brilliant, setting up the United States’ first goal and scoring the second, both of which showcased her attacking creativity and gumption. In the 28th minute, O’Reilly received the ball from Shannon Boxx at the near corner by the touchline, charged towards the goal, beat a defender and cooly slotted the ball to a wide-open Amy Rodriguez.

Side footer.

Score.

———-

In the 69th minute, O’Reilly did it herself. A deke to the right, opened O’Reilly’s left and gave her more than adequate space.

O’Reilly yanked the cord and mowed the grass with a perfect low strike past Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori. The dicotomy of the scoring plays was obvious and O’Reilly–on her game all evening–will need to “own the play” more as the World Cup group state approaches.

That’s because it’s no secret that the U.S. central midfield of Carli Llloyd and Shannon Boxx haven’t quite hit their grove just yet. At times during the game, lack of central organization saw the US get stretched out of shape and leave dangerous gaps between the mids and the defenders.

Continue reading

Germany Bound: 2011 US Women’s World Cup Team

Heather O'Reilly....does another champion label await for the US's Kristine Lilly heir apparent...

Oh man, back on the bandwagon. Feels like the Italy match just happened. The Women’s World Cup coming up and the US’s team, steeped in youth and looking to splash above their experience grade.

Heather O’Reilly will be there. Kristine Lilly for the first time since the 1980′s will not.

Don't let the sultry image fool you. This vixen is deadly in front of the next. Ask Italy...

Striker Sydney Leroux was fence sitting and sadly won’t be there. While Alex Morgan‘s got her boarding pass before today and is primed to be the Chicharito to Abby Wambach’s Rooney. Might we add that Morgan’s is also a big Pauly D and Jersey Shore fan (let’s hope that’s a fad.)

Our lone commentary this morning?

Want more background on the US Women’s Team? That’s here. The ABC’s of the USWNT

More from the experts as well at the All White Kit.

Video: Alex Morgan gathers it and deposits it to put Italy to the sword right before the whistle.

The FIFA Women’s World Cup will run from June 26-July 17 in nine German cities. The Americans open their tournament on June 28 against Korea DPR in Dresden.

Your USA 2011 Women’s World Cup team is….

GOALKEEPERS: Nicole Barnhart (Philadelphia Independence), Jill Loyden (magicJack), Hope Solo (magicJack)

DEFENDERS: Rachel Buehler (Boston Breakers), Stephanie Cox (Boston Breakers), Ali Krieger (out of contract), Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers), Heather Mitts (Atlanta Beat), Christie Rampone (magicJack),  Becky Sauerbrunn (magicJack)

MIDFIELDERS:  Shannon Boxx (magicJack), Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC),, Lori Lindsey (Philadelphia Independence), Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat), Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC), Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence), Lindsay Tarpley (magicJack)

FORWARDS: Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers), Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash), Amy Rodriguez (Philadelphia Independence), Abby Wambach (magicJack)

No Yael Averbuch! No! No Sydney Leroux. No!

At least we got Tobin Heath.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 253 other followers