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Strong U.S. team effort knocks out New Zealand
by Ridge Mahoney, August 3rd, 2012 5:44PM

TAGS:  olympics, women's national team


[USA-NEW ZEALAND REPORT CARD] For the second straight game, the U.S. women had to nurse a one-goal lead for a long period, though this time they did manage a second goal late to come away with a 2-0 Olympic quarterfinal triumph over New Zealand. Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney grades the U.S. players ...
6 Hope Solo (Seattle Sounders Women) 122/0.
She wasn't troubled on the shots she saved, since they came without much power from distance. She commanded her area well and smothered the balls she got to, and zipped her usually array of outlet throws accurately.
6 Amy LePeilbet (no club) 73/0.
Very active on the right flank, either pressing opponents, helping out on double-teams, or getting up the wing to join attacks. She also prevailed in a few back-post heading duels in which the ball had to be won.
6 Rachel Buehler (no club) 86/3.
Wary of being outrun by faster opponents, she held her position and allowed shots from distance. She thwarted a few threatening dribbles with solid tackles and occasionally surprised the Kiwis by stepping up quickly to cut off a pass rather than dropping back.
7 Christie Rampone (no club) 264/4.
The captain marshaled a defensive effort that seldom yielded a clean shot to New Zealand. She usually won the balls she stepped to and simply overpowered her opponents on balls in the air. Distributed the ball well though fewer long balls would have been warranted.

6 Kelley O'Hara (no club) 23/0.
Her long ball out of the back in the opening minutes produced a defensive miscue and a squandered scoring opportunity. She tackled strongly and kept her corner secure to shut off New Zealand's attempts to provide service from the flanks.
5 Carli Lloyd (no club) 139/38.
Reliable in the tackle but caught short on combinations that produced shots from distance. On the other hand, she didn't let attackers sneak in behind her to get closer looks at goal. Fluffed a good shooting opportunity with an uncharacteristic poor hit.
4 Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Sounders) 56/13.
Came up with a lackluster showing during the run of play for a second straight game, though the effort deserved more reward. Set plays were hit and miss but one perfect corner kick to Wambach was wasted.
5 Lauren Cheney (no club) 71/18.
She used her touches well to keep attacks flowing, and played several effective balls out wide. She got in a lot of tackles to disrupt New Zealand, but wasn't always quick enough to put pressure on Kiwis when they shot from distance. She is quietly but effectively having a very good tournament.
5 Tobin Heath (New York Fury) 49/6.
Played a fluid and active game, veering in from the flanks to use space in the middle but also showing some savvy about when to play balls up the line. She sent Leroux clear on just such a ball that turned into the second goal. She worked hard defensively but took a few bad angles and overran situations that gave New Zealand openings.
6 Abby Wambach (no club) 186/142.
She scored in her fourth straight game at the Olympics with a simple finish, and could have scored again with a header off a corner kick but the shot went wide. By drawing defenders, winning headers, and knocking balls to teammates she opened up space and contributed another laudable performance.
6 Alex Morgan (Seattle Sounders Women) 46/29.
Dragged a shot wide in the early minutes and on two other opportunities she poked a weak shot on frame and sent another into the side netting. She chased down a through ball and nicked it round the goalkeeper but stumbled over her opponent and was unable to recover possession. Her pressure and energy caused several turnovers, and with a world-class moment she set up the first USA goal for Wambach with a slick move and precise pass.
4 Heather O'Reilly (Boston Breakers) 169/34.
Buzzed up the right flank to get into good spots, but twice lost shooting opportunities when the ball escaped her when she cut inside.
6 Sydney Leroux (Seattle Sounders Women) 18/8.
Scorched New Zealand with two scything runs up the left wing, the second of which she turned into the clinching goal with a shot underneath the keeper.
NR Amy Rodriguez (no club) 93/25.
Reprised her role as a late sub.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high.)

  1. Carl Hudson
    commented on: August 4, 2012 at 12:17 p.m.
    Rapinoe is one of the USA's best four players. In general, and in this game. She can handle the ball better than anyone on the team. She rated a 7, not a 4.
  1. James Madison
    commented on: August 4, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.
    The back five are overrated; the others are spot on, except that Wambach should get extra credit for the beatings she has been willing and able to endure. What's with Rapinoe? Sundhage has been very patient with her for two matches now. She either needs to get her act together or O'Reilly, disappointing as she has been, needs to be inserted instead to start with. Overall, the US will need to make fewer unforced errors if they are to advance past Canada.
  1. Karl Schreiber
    commented on: August 4, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
    Rapinoe indeed is one of our more skillful players, one with a good understanding of the game. However, she was not performing to her potential. Neither was the rest of the team! The match against NZL was comparable to our Dream Team’s game against Lithuania. What’s going on?! NZL looked the better SOCCER team for stretches of the game, whereas our team looked like a mediocre high school team at best [way too many bad passes, build-up too naïve and too slow, not producing goals on the few well-executed moves in front of goal, AND way too many long passes forward instead of a smart build-up etc]. My enthusiastic love and support for our WNT is, unfortunately, dwindling. Recommendation to Ridge: include the head coach in the ratings.
  1. Robert Looyen
    commented on: August 5, 2012 at 7:24 p.m.
    Karl, I couldn't agree with you more; terrible display of old English style route one. I get that the WNT has all of that speed, but this is exactly how the U-20 team looked last time they were in a tournament and lost to Germany and failed completely. This is only watchable because it's our team, but it's really hard to sit through this when you know what the top club teams in this nation look like when they play this game. Ridge Mahoney should be ashamed for being such a honk. Not only does Pia need to go, but Sunil needs to follow her. When you pay the head of US soccer $1.00 a year this what you get. US soccer needs to have a full time real soccer person in charge that works to fix the good old boy club it's become (I pick Claudio Rena). No wonder they failed to beat the Japanese in the last world cup, and guess what? They better hope they don't see them again in the final of this tournament, because if they continue to play this unsophisticated and simplistic, they will be lucky to bring home a silver. When is the soccer media in this country going to act like other countries and not just give them a pass because the beat the mighty New Zealand. I hope that this isn't an example of our "National Style" because there is no style here. Just offense by accident, and my sprinter forward is faster then your defender, until she's not, or come up against a well organized defense, which is what happened to the U-20's, and this same team against Japan in the last world cup. Don't get me started on that one!

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