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U.S. player ratings
by Paul Kennedy, July 17th, 2011 9:22PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  japan, women's national team, women's world cup

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[USA-JAPAN REPORT CARD] Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan were superb in an overall excellent U.S. performance, but it all went for naught as defensive errors proved costly. Soccer America's Paul Kennedy grades the U.S. players ...

6 Hope Solo (magicJack) 101/-
Couldn't do anything on two Japanese goals. Did her part to put the USA in a position to win shootout with stop on Yuki Nagasato after Americans missed their first two attempts. Almost stopped Mizuho Sakaguchi on next Japanese PK.

5 Ali Krieger (FFC Frankfurt/GER) 23/0
First game at Commerzbank-Arena in her soccer hometown of Frankfurt was an unlucky one. Ball took bounce off her to Aya Miyama on first Japan goal.

6 Christie Rampone (Philadelphia Independence) 240/4
Had an excellent game until she played ball straight to Nagasato on play that led to the late Japanese equalizer in regulation.

3 Rachel Buehler Boston Breakers) 63/2
Struggled to keep up with Japanese attack late in the game. Failed to clear ball Miyama put away for tying goal in regulation. Unable to keep up with Sawa on diagonal run across the area on second Japanese goal off Miyama free kick.

5 Amy LePeilbet (Boston Breakers) 53/0
Japanese rarely attacked down their right wing, allowing LePeilbet to get forward much more than she usually does. But caught napping on counter by right back Kinga that led to corner kick and second Japanese goal.

6 Shannon Boxx (magicJack) 150/22
Played her best game of the tournament, winning balls and playing them quickly to teammates. Took first penalty kick but put it right into the path of Ayumi Kaihori's trailing leg.

6 Carli Lloyd (Atlanta Beat) 114/28
Skied PK over the crossbar typified her game. Often came forward but unable to find target. Best chance came in 11th minute when she failed to put open shot on goal. Played excellent through ball that led to Morgan breakaway in stoppage time in second overtime.

8 Megan Rapinoe (Philadelphia Independence) 35/11
Best player on the field for most of the game. Key to the U.S. attack with her dribbling and passing. Picked up ball just outside U.S. area and played long ball that found Morgan for first U.S. goal. Hit the outside of the post in the 18th minute, first of three U.S. shots off woodwork.

6 Heather O’Reilly (Sky Blue FC) 147/30
Worked tirelessly on both sides of the ball down right wing. Could have done better at times with her crosses but had centering pass that Wambach failed to put away in 120th minute. Also had center on ball Morgan hit off post.

6 Lauren Cheney (Boston Breakers) 46/15
Unlucky not to score on shot saved at near post in first 30 seconds. Injured ankle but stayed in the game -- and played well -- until halftime.

7 Abby Wambach (magicJack) 162/122
Japanese defenders did an excellent job of keeping her away from goal until she scored on header off Morgan's cross in the 104th minute. Goal was her 13th Women's World Cup, breaking U.S. record she shared with Michelle Akers. Unlucky on wicked shot that hit crossbar in first half. Will rue missed close-range chance in 120th minute. Only American to convert her PK.

Substitutes
8 Alex Morgan (Western New York Flash) 24/9
Tore apart the Japanese central defenders with her pace and touch. Beat the excellent Saki Kumagai to Rapinoe's ball on first goal. Almost duplicated goal in first overtime but shot wide. Then served perfectly weighted ball Wambach put away for second U.S. goal. Hit near post with left foot shortly after coming in for Cheney after the break. Broke free in last minute of second overtime, leading to Azusa Iwashimizu's red card.

4 Tobin Heath (Sky Blue FC) 31/2
Came on for Rapinoe in second overtime. Has shot blocked on U.S. free kick at the end of the game. Missed PK with weak attempt saved by Kaihori.

(1-low; 5=average; 10=high.)



0 comments
  1. Mark N
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 1:33 a.m.
    Lloyd had her best game (still not much better than average) in terms of passing to teammates instead of giving away the ball. But defensively she left massive holes all over the center, could have easily seen yellow after several wreckless tackles, wasted 4 shots (including the PK), none of which came within 5 yards of the goal. She and Boxx together were worth about 7 out of 20.

  1. mmm mmm
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 7:55 a.m.
    Agree with Mark N's comments. Lloyd and Boxx gave up acres in the middle. I was shocked at the space in the middle. In addition her ability to find the open player in the offensive 3rd is non existent. Too slow in the middle. Defensively the US has been terrible all tournament. The coaches unwillingness to change out the middle & left (Buehler & Lepeilbet), is what lost her the title. They were exposed all game for their lack of pace. Buehler was at the center of both goals, kicking it aimlessly into Kreiger and then failing to mark Sawa on the goal. Upfront Alex Morgan is a stud. Her pace is amazing and she really put the Japanese defense under pressure. U.S. really needs to look at their development programs. We are producing unimaginative players who hate to take players on and breakdown defenses. This showed against Brazil, and France. As good as Abby Wambach is/was, she really had a negative contribution to the player development in the U.S. Coaches are always looking to produce all Abby Wambach's. Lastly Abby deserves allot of praise. What a class act from start to finish. Even in defeat she was so gracious. That is the sign of a classy person.

  1. Stuart d. Warner
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 8:14 a.m.
    Lord, Box, Buehler--slow, slower, slowest. Why take out Rapinoe, one of your best PK takers with five minutes to go? She wasn't hurting us defensively. Why not put Sauerbrunn in? Speed, size . . . I'm puzzled. Why not put Lindsey in? Possession . . . speed.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
    Yes, Lloyd, Boxx (and Wambach) are slow, but the Japanese did not overrun our midfield (the French and the Brazilians did). In this game, aside from Lloyd's inability to put her shots on goal, Boxx and Lloyd outplayed the Japanese. Defensively, they put a lot of pressure on the Japanese (as did the entire US team), and their possession and distribution were solid (which is what they do well). The Japanese gave the ball away a lot more than we did. There were times when Wambach looked so slow I was wondering if we should replace her, especially since the Japanese seemed to neutralize her in the air (the defender marking her was doing an excellent job). But given her propensity to score (and her leadership), you have to keep her on the field even when she looks ineffective, and the blistering shot off the crossbar and her goal demonstrate why. If only she had finished that (somewhat difficult) point blank shot she put over the bar in the last minute of the OT, that would have been a better ending. I thought the US played their best game of the tournament, and were unfortunate not to win. Soccer can be a cruel game. But credit the Japanese; they never gave up, and the 2nd goal was pretty close to unstoppable (and I think we had 4 players in position to try).

  1. Rick McGahey
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.
    Agree on weak US midfield; Lloyd was bombing away to absolutely no effect. Adequate defensive mids, I guess, but no buildup or possession. Is that dictated by the personnel? And frantic energy, but lousy decision making, especially in front of goal (but also dribbling directly into two or three defenders, poor passing and giveaways). I agree with mmm mmm that "We are producing unimaginative players who hate to take players on and breakdown defenses." We almost won it anyway, but this style of play is doomed--if France, Sweden, or Brazil develop a goalkeeper, we are falling further back.

  1. John Fatte
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:31 a.m.
    Pia needs to go. It took her how many games to realize that Amy Rodriguez was not contributing to the game. She, in a word, was terrible. I would have pulled her after the first game. Rachel Buelher was also terrible. She's just a thug with no touch. I can't count the number of clears to the other team she made not to mention her contributing two goals to Japan's total by her lousy clear (who clears the ball across your own goal, geeez) and not able to keep up with Sawa on the corner kick. Pia showed a reluctance to use the talent on the bench and go with the starters for way too long. Either she doesn't recognize the talent she has or she is playing favorites. Either way, she needs to retire. Japan didn't beat us, we beat ourselves and there is no worse way to lose a game.

  1. I w Nowozeniuk
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:40 a.m.
    Typical lack of patience on the many shots on goal...several times the ball could have been one-touched and struck instead of one timing it 'not on frame'...some very bad decision-making by a few on the squad...Krieger should not be blamed for the Japanese first goal while the 'gods of futbol' punished the poor finishing of the USA.

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:45 a.m.
    Ah The fans beginning to realize that the uswnt is run like a sorority. I'm happy for Japan, sad for us. Those who have watched what Pia has done can see she is good at many things but terrible at instilling a professional mentality to the organization Never once did boxx or Lloyd etc think that they better be in form or else.... Thing has up be blown up No one should be an auto starter for any of our national teams. Oh when will the federation start hiring coaches who get this ?

  1. Sidney Hall
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 9:51 a.m.
    They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Let's give credit where credit is due. Japan just wanted the game more than we did. They just refused to give up and never lost their will to win. These are the traits that also got the US to the final. There's no doubt that the US would neveer have made it there without the "Miracle" plays and goals. Miracle plays and goals come from never giving up. I also thought that the US played it's best possession game of the cup. As for the defense, well that has been suspect for some time. Not sure why Buelher was still in after the half. She obviously struggled with the speed and agility of the Japanese players. But, I have to say that although they lost, I thought the US women lost with grace. And that with more new players like Morgan the future could be very bright ahead.

  1. Carl Hudson
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:04 a.m.
    The usual suspects - Buehler, Lloyd, Boxx- let us down. At least our other klutz (Heather O'Reilly) didn't give the ball away on every touch, though she didn't do much good. Taking out Rapinoe was criminal (though Rapinoe took at least two selfish shots rater than crossing, and she did not deliver the corner kicks high and hard enough to the far post ten yard line where Abby loves them). Morgan needs to weightlift and learn to head, so she can be our next Abby. Morgan has potential galore, but needs strength, meanness and an air game. And what can we ever do to replace Rampone in the future? Give Coach Pia an F for personnel use, and not doing enough PK practicing ahead of the tourney. There are only two places to put a penalty shot: Low left and low right. This "High and hard" crappola leads only to over the bar disasters.

  1. Tom Kondas
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:26 a.m.
    Julie Foudy said the game was very simple, " you just have to put the ball in the back of the net". True but in order to do that you have to have the ball which means, perhaps, that possession is also important. How many high balls coming from the opponent end of the field were trapped to gain possession, ANSWER: none, instead of trapping to gain possession we headed them all back to the opponent. If you don't have posession, guess who does?

  1. David Delk
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
    Having watched every USA game and many of the other games, it's time to get off the mantra that the USA just relies and athleticism and size and all these other teams are technically superior. It's just not true. Do the US talent scouts put too much emphasis on size, absolutely, but I did not see technically superior teams in Brazil, France or Japan. Very few women are top level creative players, and the US seems to be the equal of these other countries in the technical sense. Is the US style of play different, yes, but their level of play is not. I see a team that can play possession game if this is what US Soccer wants to do. The US team had the best finishers as I found France and Japan to be inept in this regard. I would rather be critical of the coaching decisions made during the Japan game, taking Rapinoe out- big mistake. Wambaugh takes the first PK and sets the tone, Morgan takes the 2nd- you can see what players step up in the moment and which ones step back. What fans can and should demand is a close scrutiny of the player pool and selection process. I see a team where seniority seems to play too large a role over talent.

  1. Daniel Clifton
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 10:58 a.m.
    I thought Lloyd played a pretty good game in the defensive 2/3's of the field. When she gets near the box she just goes forward like a bulldog and does not look up to see who is open for a pass. I thought this was the USA's best game as far as possession was concerned by far. The problems were in the finishing and the mistakes at the back. I would have preferred to see Sauerbrunn in there. Buehler at times looks overmatched. I have been criticizing the USA's lack of possession in the games leading up to the final. In this game they showed they can do that. I don't like the central midfield pairing of Lloyd and Boxx. They are both defensive midfielders. Why not put a playmaker in there such as Cheney. I think Sundhage should look at playing Cheney in there as a Central playmaking Midfielder. There attack would be much better. They also need to figure out how to spring Morgan more. Her speed and finishing touch are killers for any defense. She is extremely dangerous as she showed at the end by setting up Wampbach and then forcing a dangerous slide tackle that lead to a red card. She is clearly part of the future of US Women's soccer.

  1. Kirsten Allen
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 11:13 a.m.
    In my opinion, the team that controls the midfield more often than not, wins the game. Boxx and Lloyd did not control anything, gave the ball away to anyone who would take it and can't put the ball on goal to save the game. US was embarrassed but still almost won. The defense was poor but the coaching was atrocious. In the last four minutes, the USA women kicked the ball around like a Saturday morning U12 club game. Where was the game management; where were the strategic moves to play for PKs? Very disappointing and it is time to clean house with the US Soccer administration and get some coaches in here that want to win more that they want to just keep their jobs. It appears that if the coaches (Lundhage and Bradley) follow what has been done in the past, then they cannot be criticized for their errors. Just a severe lack of imagination. Where will it all end?

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 12:08 p.m.
    Of all of the comments posted I see that only one was written by a lady, Kirsten Allen,so my question is why hasn't there been any more comments submitted by women? I must say though, that the gents who submitted their comments were overshadowed by Ms. Allen with her very insightful comments especially about the US midfield duo of Boxx and Lloyd, as well as the defense, but even more insightful is her assessment of the poor team management that filters on down from Gulati to the coach and her staff, and I wholeheartedly agree with her closing statement and question: "Just a severe lack of imagination. Where will it all end(sic)?" Kirsten, thank you for your brief, succinct and to the point comment!

  1. David Huff
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 1:13 p.m.
    Buehler, Lloyd, Boxx clearly need to retire, serious thought also needs to go onto whether A-Rod, O'Reilly and Lepeilbet should be retained. Quality players for the US were Solo, Rampone, Krieger, Cheney, Rapinoe, Wambach and Morgan. Sauerbrunn should be considered to replace Buehler as CB, Natasha Kai should be considered for re-instatement as a replacement for A-Rod and we should look to finding a replacement for Coach Pia in the next couple of months so that we can begin preparing for Olympics 2012. This will be a good opportunity to start forming a new team so that we can be ready after the Olympics for the WC 2015 qualifiers that will start taking place.

  1. Ronnie j Salvador
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 1:20 p.m.
    My guess is that more men watched the game than women. No surprise there. Truly few of the girl players we know watch soccer on TV. It’s easy to armchair coach on Monday morning, but the bottom line is that there’s little to no game management in soccer at the end of the game. Tony DiCicco summed it up in the pregame: coaches can instruct and diagram all they want, but players will adjust play on the pitch depending on what they see and feel. And as a coach there is LITTLE you can do by remote control on the bench. After nearly 120 minutes on the pitch, can players be expected to not have lapses of concentration? Let me ask this: if the USA had won the game in the shootout, would any of this criticism surface? Does the result change how people think about the way the USA plays? The USA played a solid game and showed they can be as technical as any team in the world; but didn’t get the result. I disagree that USA midfield ‘…did not control anything’. They forced Sawa, the best player in the tournament, to a defensive role for most of the game. I do agree with the overall lack of imagination. The USA players showed they are more than capable of a more technical game, but up to the final were asked to play an outdated [college?] style.

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 6:19 p.m.
    Watch replays on tape: 1. Due to Buehler's body position, the only alternative was a cross goal clearance. 2. Sawa's tying goal was WORLD CLASS, reminiscent of the Italian great Poalo Rossi, who made a living on re-directions. 3. However, the US was defending a corner with a one goal lead in the last 4 minutes with eight (8) players! Any Club or HS coach would have had all 10 back in the area. no mention by any commentators. Overconfidence?? Oversight?? about winning the corner or the shoot-out? 4. Unsung japanese hero?: the player who took the red card to stop US breakway. Absolutely the right play!

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 6:25 p.m.
    Tony DiCicco, come back anytime.

  1. Ric Dahlstrom
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 6:30 p.m.
    Bueler cost US the game against Sweden, almost against Brazil and certainly against Japan. When she was red-carded, the team played much better. Coincidence? I don't think so. Fortunately she couldn't play the semi-final and the team played well without her. How come Pia didn't see this coming? I groaned when they announced the starters for the final. Bueler? Really? Pia, what were you smoking?

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 6:38 p.m.
    US game plan was solid: attack, and four midfielders with Rapinoe starting countered Japanese possession game. Missed chances? generally, 10 shots for every goal. Sorry, Hitting the post is part of the game.

  1. Ernest Irelan
    commented on: July 18, 2011 at 6:58 p.m.
    score should have been 4-0 in first 30 min of game...for some reason, we had a poor finishing mentality, we had more than our fair share of chances early in the game an had Japan totally confused with our constant attacking an getting shots off....I have seen this so often when a team misses many shots, then, the other team comes on strong as if they were inspired by the lack of finishing , they get fewer shots, but finish them...that is all that counts..I totally agree, Wambach is a leader an helps the team a lot in her ability to lead. I saw her make the header, also miss a shot that should have been in the net...went over goal...but, that was the story of several shots by USA team...finishing is not our strong suit...we were bigger, stronger, like Germany an Sweden...Japan was tactically sound, quick an agile, decent passes an really took advantage of quick runs on goal. I just think the team that made fewer mistakes won the game...which is usually the case....the thing I saw an appreciated a lot was the GREAT SPORTMANSHIP displayed by BOTH teams...

  1. Andres Yturralde
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 11:38 a.m.
    Except for maybe a couple of you (i.e., Sydney and Ronnie), most of you are being far too critical and unfair. Coming into the tournament and then out of the group stage, the USA didn't seem to have enough to make it much further than the quarterfinals. At least that's what I thought. But I was wrong! Shoot, they made it to the final!! So let's get a little perspective, please. I mean, take a look at what happened to some “eternal favorites" in Copa America, for instance. And that was this past weekend, as well! It’s not as easy as it looks, folks. On rare occasion it takes more than great possession and great athletes and great coaches and great programs. A few times the underdog reminds us to be more humble and throw more heart and spirit into the mix. And then there are times we simply can’t do anything about it, as much as we try— as much as we sincerely try. It’s appropriate to say, at the end of the day, that I am more-than-satisfied with the USA Women’s National Team. They brought me a lot of joy and gave me a lot to cheer about during these last couple of weeks. And, more importantly, they made me believe! Just listen to Abby Wambach and Hope Solo after the game. Listen to their reaction, having just lost probably the biggest game of their lives. Pay attention to what they said and, more importantly, pay attention to how they said it. It’s no joke, people. On a big stage like this— under circumstances like these— it’s no longer about winning or losing— about $1M USD here and $850K USD there. It’s about how you play the game— before, during, and after. Because this is soccer! And this is life!!

  1. mmm mmm
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 11:39 a.m.
    With all the players in the development programs, how do you end up with a Rachael Buehler at centerback. Regarding comments above concerning midfield, I am sorry the US was beaten badly in Midfield late in the 2nd half and throughout overtime. You can not play Lloyd and Boxx together, they are both slow. Get some speed into the team.

  1. John Foust
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 1:29 p.m.
    Does anyone know off the top of their head (sorry, have been too lazy to research it myself) what it takes to replace Gulati and the top leadership at US Soccer? He/They are the problem. From national team coaches to youth development, we have stagnated since the 94 WC. We had a ragtag group then, with many foreign-born/raised players like Dooley and Stewart, and a foreign coach, but the lack of sophistication in our player and game development since then is woeful. We are not developing instinctive players with any sense of elegance, and we still - the men - don't have the fundamental ball control skills to compete at the highest level. Very few players can receive a hard-struck pass and keep the ball within a foot of themself.

  1. Bret Newman
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 2:56 p.m.
    I love Hope Solo, but she was out of position on Japan's 2nd goal. On the corner kick she was hugging the post, in which gk's are supposed to be more towards the middle of goal. Also she was too deep in goal. Several professional and amatuer goalkeepers mentioned this on various sport radio shows. I would rate her a 5 for this game.

  1. Ronnie j Salvador
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 3:48 p.m.
    Are other GK's saying Solo was out of position? She was in the middle of the pipes when the kick was taken, but correctly moved to her right when she realized the corner wass going near post. Solo couldn't hug the post; the right back was there. The cross was well driven and Sawa made a world class redirect. Solo moved left to make the save, but it glanced off Wambach's upper arm and went in to Solo's right. By the way, most seem to think Buehler was a step behind Sawa on the play, but if you watch the replays closely she was actually there stride for stride with Sawa. She missed contact with the redirected ball by inches. Yesterday I took one of our state's best young attacking midfielders and tried to copy Sawa's goal [ie. ball driven low from the side then a hard redirect by this player at an angle beyond the near post]. The player I had trying the redirect is no slouch; has played with players of the national team the past couple of years. Yikes! That redirect is uber hard. I wish everyone luck trying to imitate the Sawa goal.

  1. Kent James
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 8:39 p.m.
    We need to keep things in perspective. Many people criticized the team for a lack of skill in the games against France and Brazil, and those teams demonstrated that their technical ball skills were better than ours. Japan was supposed to be the same kind of team, but in this game, our players outplayed the Japanese all over the field (a least until we scored the first goal, and then again when they equalized). Yes, Boxx and Lloyd are too defensive oriented, not quick enough, and don't have that much creativity. I would rather we only played one (and replaced the other with a more creative player), but against the Japanese, we had the penetrating possession, not them. Boxx and Lloyd are both good at getting the ball from the back, dealing with pressure, and playing it to a teammate. That is not easy to do, and of course they sometimes gave the ball away, but the Japanese gave it away a lot more than we did. The Japanese barely got close enough to shoot on goal until the overtime periods. The Japanese may be one of the most skillful teams in the world, but they did not show it in the final (with the exception of the 2nd goal, which was impossible to stop; and that goal was not a "breakdown" in the US defense; Buehler was there stride for stride and missed the block by inches (had she used her right to block I think she would have gotten it), and the ball went past 2 more defenders and the keeper (so our defenders were well positioned), and the deflection off of Wambach probably hurt us). Which means on both goals, our problem was not that we couldn't keep up, but rather we had too many defenders (Buehler's clearance would have gotten us out of danger had it not struck another defender and stayed in front of goal). Even the PK's were as so one-sided as they appeared; Boxx and Heath's kicks were not great, but they were as good as some of the Japanese kicks that went in; the difference was that the Japanese keeper guessed the right way and Solo didn't (Lloyd piked hers, but maybe she felt power was necessary because of the keeper's saves on Boxx and Heath). We do need to have more players that are willing to go at players 1 v 1 (and use something other than pure speed to get around them), but this was not a disaster. We played our best game in the finals of the world cup, and were unfortunate not to win. We'll need to rebuild for the future, and hopefully get some quicker, more creative players, but we don't need to dynamite the structure and banish everyone involved.

  1. charles davenport
    commented on: July 19, 2011 at 10:41 p.m.
    Look at some facts: Ahead of Brazil 1-0, gave up tying and go ahead goal; Ahead of France, 1-0, gave up tying goal. Ahead of Japan 1-0 and 2-1, gave up tying goals. The Italian MNT, for one, wouldn't be allowed back into Italy after such performances. "Houston, we have a problem."

  1. Mark N
    commented on: July 21, 2011 at 7:18 p.m.
    LOL, but the US MNT has been invited back after wasting 2-goal leads in consecutive finals (Confed Cup 09 and Gold Cup 11). We have lower standards, obviously.


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