I remember when Abby Wambach really impressed me. It was during the 2011 Women's World Cup, which she entered with a very uncharacteristic scoring drought -- only one goal in half a year.
She went scoreless in the first two 2011 World Cup games, wins over North Korea and Colombia. The striker didn’t swear or pound the ground when her shots went off target. She actually smiled before sprinting back into action, as if she was thinking to herself, “That didn’t go so well. No biggie. Next time.”
Wambach scored in each of the next four games -- including the iconic goal against Brazil in the quarterfinals -- as the USA finished runner-up by falling in a penalty-kick tiebreaker to Japan in the final. Wambach, whose five goals the following year helped the USA win 2012 Olympic gold, looked like a leader whether things were going well for her or not.
This is not the case as Wambach struggles in Canada. On the field, her headers -- once her specialty -- are off target or hit weakly. She badly missed a penalty kick against Colombia. Off the field, first came her claim that perhaps the artificial turf was to blame for missed scoring opportunities. Even worse was her criticism of French referee Stephanie Frappart after the USA’s 2-0 win over Colombia.
Wambach suggested that Frappart may have been inclined to yellow-card Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe because they carried yellows into the game. As if Frappart wanted those two players to be suspended for the USA’s game against China.
Holiday was cautioned for her third foul in 17 minutes. Rapinoe was cautioned in the 41st minute on her fourth foul and second within a minute.
Frappart, keep in mind, ejected Colombia’s goalkeeper in the 47th minute and called two penalty kicks for the USA. That’s not usually the kind of officiating performance that yields criticism from the winners. Wambach, obviously, is a frustrated player.
Many of us thought Coach Jill Ellis would use the 35-year-old as a late sub to snatch goals against tiring defenses. Instead, Wambach has started and captained the USA in three of four games at the Women's World Cup. She scored in the 1-0 win over Nigeria, but her performances have not justified the faith Ellis has placed in Wambach and one wonders how her teammates feel about it.
The USA is still well poised to win this World Cup. It has an excellent defense, a kind draw -- one of the tournament’s two most impressive teams will be knocked out after the France-Germany quarterfinal -- and an Alex Morgan who’s looking fitter game by game.
But something seems askew with Ellis’ team. It hasn’t been much fun to watch and the players don’t look like they’re having fun.
It’d be unfair to place all the blame on Wambach for the team's four unconvincing offensive performances at the World Cup. But the quarterfinal game against China is a chance for Ellis to take a different approach -- and bench Wambach. The USA's all-time leading scorer no longer looks like the player who could laugh off a miss, come back stronger and inspire her teammates.
Jill Ellis seems to have built the team around AW ... I think it would confuse everybody if she were to change right in the middle of the tournament.
It's no slouch to know and recognize when one no longer has, due to age, the strength, stamina, agility, or reflexes to be in the forefront of one's sport. One would think that both athlete and coaching staffs would have, about 11 or 12 months ago, reached this obvious conclusion. This was not a tournament that should have the name Wambach in it. No one can turn back the clock or deny what time does to bones, knees, ankles, and muscles. So it, due to Wambach's difference, makes me wonder if there was not some sort of other agenda that has and had nothing at all to do with sport or the game of soccer? Yes? Yes, this decision to have her in the roster and getting minutes has nothing at all to do with soccer. Let's all just be very candid about that. (very sad)
I saw an article about the lack of diversity on the USWNT ... of course, we didn't get any credit for having the oldest team.
@Woitalla,... You Read my Mind from other Post, and People want us to Shut Up and Show Respect! ?!?!.. Santiago 1314 commented on: June 23, 2015 at 4:17 p.m.@Bret,...see Post from 1:18...Remember what Country you are in...Why you trying to Shut down Free Speech???...Everyone Entitled to an Opinion...RESPECT !!! You Respect Whiners and Excuse Makers??? ... I don't care what you did in the past, This is the World Cup...She's the Captain of the Team...No Excuses about Turf...No Excuses about Refs...
Wambach looked totally out of sorts during the Colombia match and should not have taken the penalty that resulted from the foul on Morgan. The decision should be made based on both her game performance and how she trains in the lead up to the China match. Right now, I think that a formation shake up is necessary, especially without Rapinoe in the XI+. IF they stay with a 4-4-2, then sitting Wambach may be the right thing to do. However, if Ellis goes to a 4-3-3, then Wambach should start with Morgan and either Leroux and Press. Also, if the tactics remain atttacking via the cross then Wambach is the most likely of what is available to be successful. It is the tactics that need to be reviewed first, then select the players that play the best to those tactics rather than try to force the selection to play the tactics in spite of their talents.
As for the officiating crew, I hope yesterday is the last time I see any of them. They got the offside ruling on Wambach correct and the penalty/card decisions were also right. That's it. There were far too many poor decisions, including the Holliday yellow which was absurd. In the first half, Colombia got the benefit of any doubt while in the second they seemed to be trying to even things up by giving the US several very dubious decisions. A French ref should no more do a US math than a US ref do a French match. Once again, FIFA has left itself open to criticism for the dumbest of reasons.
Finally, this World Cup has proven why artificial surfaces should never be used. The passing has been so badly affected by the surfaces used that these games are becoming a how not to pass clinic. Well weighted balls are running away from their intended targets. Balls are bouncing way too high and skipping rather than checking. Memo to FIFA, if a horse can't eat it, players shouldn't have to play on it - male or female. From now on, grass only!
Interestng that no one has compared or contrasted JK's decision to drop LD with JE's decision to keep AW. Interesting also to read Mike's comment about the team seeming not to have fun. For all his current commenting, Tony DeCicco has not reminded us of his final remarks to the US women at halftime of the 1999 final: "Go out there and have fun."
Marta (age 29) Christine Sinclair (32) Abby Wambach (35) not a great cup for the stars of our hemisphere.
Spot on about the USWNT not looking like they are having fun. I am not in agreement with coach Ellis's use of her talent, the formation she requires, or seemingly what may be a tactical plan. But I have seen Carly Lloyd lose more possession dumping passes than she has done total since the last World Cup. Turf? NO. Lack of enthusiasm? Yes, I believe that is the case.
It is my sincere hope matters off the field will be improved with some tough decisions and prompt actions. I do not know exactly what to say, but if I am in front of these seasoned veterans, I would elect not to sugar coat a motivational speech of sorts, and would encourage them strongly to just "get your shit together". The opponents are here to tear their heads off, and if the coach does not make appropriate changes, then it is the responsibility of each player, and hopefully one that steps up as the leader on the field by action, to come together as a team that does not linger to continue to outlast each opponent, but rather one that cannot be stopped. Take someone on, play with conviction, make us proud, and be fun to watch, and work as a team.
Don't ever put yourselves in a position of allowing so many things to look back upon with second guessing.
WE all know the strength of the American Spirit individually, and we know how those individual spirits as a team represent something special. They are not acting as that team. They need to put aside their individual issues, become that team again, and they cannot be beaten. It is obvious to me, their problems at this point are mental. They need to respect their need to accept where they are on the world stage, and grow up professionally, again.
The USWNT is truly unstoppable, when they come together on all cylinders as a team.
Start Leroux and Morgan up front, Press, Lloyd, Bryant, and Heath in the mid. No need for 3 up front, Press and Lloyd will spend as much time in the box as the Forwards. Based on her performance Abby Wambach is now a late in the game sub if we're down, and have to resort to just pounding it into middle. She'll do better late in game, when the backs are tired her lack of speed won't be such an issue.
And Lloyd is not the captain, no matter who else is on the field. (Next year in the Olympics, Julie Johnston will be Captain, and may move up to the midfield if another center back comes along. With her intelligence and skill on the ball, she will outperform any of current mid-fielders.)
What I always dislike are players who stay beyond their prime. People need to recognize that sport is just something for most all to enjoy at a competitive level when in adolescence and teen years. Sure, it can be fun in one's early and mid 20's too. But when one is cresting age 30? (No matter just about what sport one is doing) Real life should transition away from competitive sport focus to far more meaningful things that are far more enriching in life. What one often forgets is that these rosters are, in truth, tiny. If a Wambach has a slot in the final 23 total players selected, well, that means a truly promising 23 or 24 year old forward is sitting at home somewhere. And that is precisely the player that might have made this not just a better USWNT but also a better tournament, a tournament so far that does not featured truly good attacking, offensive attractive soccer. I guess I have to ask the Wambachs (pluralized because she is not alone on either the women's or men's side in doing this), how many World Cups do you think you merit? My answer would be: "You've had your fair share already. Do the mature thing. Step aside. Let someone else now take the spot and see what they can do." However, for the selfish and those who do not know how to transition that falls on deaf ears.
I am not sure how Abby Wambach's comment on how she was not sure of the referee's intentions; is in any way related to Abby Wambach missing a PK, other than it happens to be the same individual.
FIFA is in the news a lot, now known as corrupt, and even the butt of some jokes on social media. I know of no other sport where the official has the ultimate say, and the players, owners, and spectators are supposed to take it in stride.
Is Abby Wambach past her prime? Yes. Is she the player she used to be? No. Does she have something to presently contribute to WNT? Probably, after all she scored the lone goal against Nigeria.
Why blame the lack of offense on only one player?
I know "it's women's soccer and it's different", and more than one person has already thrown at me the example Landon Donovan and his sabbatical. But the thought of Abby Wambach being allowed by the National Team Coach to prepare for a World Cup by playing pickup games at Nike and regular rounds of golf, instead of training and playing regularly with a professional team, ought to be unthinkable. But she's not only on the team but, as Mike points out, she's starting and captaining it. Donovan, at least, returned in time to train and play with the Galaxy and to prove he was worthy of a place in the US team in Brazil. To almost everyone but Jürgen Klinsmann, the one guy whose opinion mattered the most.
She's turned into Abby Whinebach. It does not become her. On the contrary, it diminishes her, while reinforcing certain unfortunate stereotypes about Americans and sportsmanship.
I agree that something is not right with this team. And I further agree that Wambach's complaints have been embarrassing and that her play hasn't been great, though the one finish was pretty nice. For me, though, the pressing questions at moment are:
1. Why is Ellis so set on the 4-4-2, given how poor our passing, possession and midfield play have been?
2. Why is Wambach at 35 y.o. being given such a central role in this team?
3. Is Sermanni's firing connected to the woes this team is having now? That is, was Ellis brought in simply to play route 1, dumbed-down, 4-4-2 soccer, with marketing darlings Wambach & Morgan up top?
@Kenneth,...Brilliant as always!!!
@ James Madison,... President you should be !!!...Excellent point, How many of these same people that want AW Cut, Wanted Landon on the Men's Team...
They both deserve to be on the Team, But accept a Reserve, Spark Plug Role...
@ Larry,... Brought Tears to my Eyes...AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM from a Feminine Stand Point...MAKE IT FUN...Forgot that from my Coaching Females days...
Muchos thank yous to the comments re" JK's decision to leave LD out, while JE opted to keep Amy. Interesting. Now, I do agree that a 4-3-3 lineup is warranted as out MFers lacked cohesion and sense of unity, given that the Cafeteras of Colombia, gave the WNT an "on-the-job" clinic on how to make accurate passes and use the middle even though their forays into our defensive third came to naught. Lastly kudos to Michelle Akers for calling out J.Ellis, oh, and so what if JE is a Brit, though I am puzzled why no one called out Coach Pia Sundhage with her Swedish accent.
@ Kily,... Quit Judging, Pastor Santiago is reading between your lines...Dios Te Ve...
@ John,... WhineBach !?!?...I Love It...
Hola Ric,... Brit/Swede Long Ball to WhineBach is Destroying our Women's National Team Program...No need to Develop Wing Play, Overlapping Wing Backs...Just Wack the Ball to Abby...Pia Started it and Jill is taken it to the Next level...When Anson/Tony had the Team, we had Wing Play, (Jennings-Gabarra, Hamm, Chastain, Lilly, Milbret, MacMillan, to name a few)...Then the ball came in to Akers/Heinrichs...BIG Difference mi Amigo...
Except for the defense, the women's team has been unexceptional. Poor passing, no overlaps, and too many long clearances are the more glaring deficiencies. One player who has not seen any action but has a history of exceptional play is Heather O'Reilly. Jill Ellis' decision not to play her is on a par with Klinsmann keeping Landon Donovan off the MNT. That came back to haunt them when he opted for Wondolowski, a not-ready-for-prime-time player if there ever was one. O'Reilly is a quality player who should be a starter or at least a key sub.
@ Steve,... Why Not at this Stage,...Can't be any worse than what we are seeing now...
Funny, I was thinking about LD when I was reading the article. Good points everyone to compare him and Abby. If she was left off the roster like LD, it'd have been another travesty. That said, she can still help this team, even if from the bench (prob better equipped than LD in this capacity), or with some late-game heroics. I was at the Sweden game (the only match we've not scored) and when she came in off the bench I was expecting more WC magic. She came close, but it's that capacity where her diminished skills are best suited. Imagine having to defend against all of our speed for 70-min and then flip it around and have to deal with a physical aerial attack? That would be almost impossible for the opposing coach to handle with only 3 subs. We will see Fri when the line-up comes out, but we need to utilize our speed and versatility and send players at the young China back-line from every direction. No more defend and wait for the set-play. Cummon Jill, unleash the speed!
Which one is it? Should AW be benched for her play or post-game comments? Her comments don't amount to much of anything and the team's offensive woes appear much bigger than AW. If anything, AW is the only player up top who scares anyone. Ellis put AW back into the starting role because the other forwards weren't getting it done. The USWNT lacks attacking players at ease breaking opponents down 1 v 1 and/or great movement up top. It was a tough call for Ellis re players. She feared making too many changes off an an olympic champion. So, now she is sorta' stuck with a few players too many on offense who father time seems to have caught up with and perhaps she didn't make the best choices with respect to young players. I know I've seen more dynamic players on pitches across America. Ellis can't do anything about the players at this point. She can change the formation and movement up top. AW would be more effective in a 4-3-3, winning and holding the ball for other players like LaRoux, who's more comfortable running at and by players than turning and taking on defenders 1 v 1. This is what she needs to focus on imo. I think she will and the USWNT will eek out a WWC Championship. Regardless, I hope Ellis recognizes the need for a few changes.
Whoa, lot's of good comments and suggestions here. Obviously people have given this a lot of deep thought. Agree that AW is not a starting and 90 minutes plus player. IMHO she could really help this team coming in the second half, when the defense is tired, and her 35 year old legs are fresh. Changing the formation, at the right time, to a 4-3-3 might help bring some life to our one dimension "send it long" offense. We're way too predictable. Yes, JE can only use the players she brought, but she has to see that our midfield is just not working. Hopefully JE and her staff will have a solid game plan for the China game. If it's just business as usually the US may be done at the WWC. :(
oops, should be "business as usual"
How "she was not sure of the referee's intentions is in any way related to Abby Wambach missing a PK" comes back to having the right focus.
Here's an analogy from baseball, and the KC Royals, and the big brawl they had that led to several suspensions. After serving his hiatus, one of the primary participants, Kelvin Herrera has struggled with little dunker base hits preceding him piping a 99 mph fastball that ends up a souvenir.
Maybe it's just Karma, but in Abby's case, she's older now and has lost some of her physical advantage when she was really not all that good technically, just a big brute that could out-jump, and knock other people off the ball.
It's time for the game in the U.S. to evolve out of "kick and run", or "boot, and chase", or whatever you want to call it as the rest of the world calls it "ugly American soccer".
still, commenting on the ref makes her Abby Wombat.........time to bring her off the bench.....what's up with the yellow sox?
@James e,... Yes it is Ugly, and SAD thing is these Coaches are promulgating this style throughout the Women's Game...not sure if you saw the Post that Karl& I had from the u20s Last Year.. I'll Re-Post On this Thread. ..
I found the Post from last years u20 team...There is Basically NOTHING better under this group of players...**RE-POST from Karl Schreiber commented on: August 6, 2014 at 10:24 a.m.**.There’s a lot of room for improvement on the part of this U20 USWNT! After the strangest kick-off at a World Championship for players who are approaching the age of twenty years, one had to expect more weird stuff. Indeed, the team displayed a bizarre version of kick-and-rush soccer, almost completely void of smart midfield play with tempo changes etc, the basics. Rowland in goal and her left defender did pretty well. Almost all of the attacks in front of the German goal exhibited naïve soccer with no flashes of brilliance, not even from the player with a pro contract from PSG and often highlighted by the TV announcer, Horan. I never thought I would be compelled to be this critical of a US Women’s National Team. Is US college soccer that much out of sync with the international game? Have we become too complacent at the US national level? I sincerely hope our coaching staff can quickly mold this group into a team that can rise to the level of performance we expect from a United States Women’s National Team.***Santiago 1314 commented on: August 6, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.***@Karl, Unfortunately, Our once Dominating, Dynamic Women's Program is a Shadow of itself... Granted that other Countries have improved, BUT, Instead of Developing more Attacking minded players, Over Coaching has Breed Out these players... No more Turning with the Ball("PLAY THE WAY YOU ARE FACING"!!!)..No more Taking On 1v1("PASS THE BALL").. You Watch ... In a few years we will be talking about US Women's team, Like Brazil is talking about there Men's team.. SAD!!!*** Looks Like a few Years has already Arrived... I Repeat Today...SAD !!!
@Robert,...The Yellow Socks are because; Our Players Heads are always DOWN, Trying to figure out where the Ball went to after their Bad Trap...This way they only have to lift their Head a minuscule amount to see in which General Direction to Wildly Boot it...Disgusting Soccer and Un-Patriotic Uniforms !!!...We WANT; RED, WHITE and BLUE...Nike Sux...Go back to Adidas...Or did they Pay-Off Someone at USSF, Like they did With Brazil...???
Hay Santiago 1314, the consumate conspiracy theorist.... Y'all gotta remembah that federations and teams are approached by the big brand companies, e.g. MLS/adidas, for usually the uniforms, while athe shoes can be of different brands per a players prefernece for shoes. Asi es que, ya dejes de ser tan negativo, es tu derecho constiucional, pero ya estuvo suave, no???
@Ric,...No Conspiracy Theory here... Just the U.S. Dept. Of Justice Indictment ... Refers to efforts by "a multinational sportswear company headquartered in the United States" to win the Brazil uniform contact back in 1996...hummm ??? What CompaNikey could that be...???
considering the US has now played 2 opponents with 10 men Womback comments are a little ridiculous. Of course, she probably knows that so it just to push the referees back from calling fouls on the US team. Gamesmanship. While the youth system has the potential to make creative, skillful players the national team coaching staff has never focussed on that. The long bomb to AW has been the modus operandi for years. For me Megan Rapinoe has been the star of the team for quite some time and is a skillful creative player. Not to diminish AW - there is a place or rather has been a place for her - the coaches determine how the team plays. Although it is obvious that the old guard has a lot of clout - Brianna Scurry in goal then later throwing out the new coach because he was trying too many new players! Jill Ellis is not likely to rock the boat.
If the old guard has alot of clout then apparently they need a female Klinsmann. If the national team coaching staff is not focused on bringing along creative, skillful players then who is hiring this staff and what can be done to change those decision makers. I have enjoyed reading all the comments, especially the comparisons of AW's situation to LD's a year ago. I agree with those commenters who have stated AW would be best coming off the bench. It is interesting to see Lloyd coming out and stating they need to take more chances against China in order to win.
We are not very good, and those who have hyped the talent of this group of players are sadly mistaken. Morgan is not healthy and Wambach was a mule at her prime, and now is a burro. Hope Solo and J. Johnston are talented, but beyond that, I don't think these are the best players we can put on the field. Changes need to be made, but US Soccer have contractual obligations with sponsors, and those changes aren't marketable.
@ EVERYONE!!! ... I find it hard to Blame Coach Jill for the Poor Technical Abilities of our Players...The players (Especially on the Women's side) are All Cookie Cutter Robots, Due to Pay-To-Play OVERCOACHING... By 14-16yrs Old, Technical Development of Fast Twitch Muscle is Over...And you will NOT See these CLUB Coaches Risking their Jobs to Develop the next Mia Hamm...USSF needs to send out these "Retired" Stars to Hold Teams and Trainers Responsible for 1v1 Risk Taker Mentality...
Michelle Aikers is spot on. If Jill happy with this play, what the hell is she doing as Head Coach??? Jill should be playing Heather O'Reilly! She can penetrate and serve a ball like nobody else. But Jill will play her pet Morgan Brian
@ Kate,...You have a Good idea, But This is how I saw it on other Thread... Santiago 1314 commented on: June 25, 2015 at 4:53 p.m.
@John M,... Double agree with you... I think the problem for O'Reilly is, that she's a Streaky, Flakey, UnPredictable Player...On top of the other Qualities you mentioned...The team is already. CARRYING 2 Players like that... Lloyd and Heath...Both capable of High Levels of Play and Looking like something you DON'T want on the other bottom of your shoe... Usually a Team can only carry One(Like Dempsey on MNT)...We would Opening ourselves up to a Meltdown, if ALL 3 had OFF Nights...*** I don't think O'Reilly is the Difference maker vs China...But For Germany/France, YES
I agree with Kenneth Barr and Tony DiCicco (who said that the US would be playing a 433 if he was coaching). As for the article, the coach should be looking to field the best team. While the team has not looked imposing on attack, they have won. Would you rather they looked good, even if they lost? With two starting midfielders unavailable, I don't think benching a starting forward is going to help the attack be better organized. I think the 3 CMs in a 433 would make a difference in finding a passing rhythm. What we need is 1v1 threats going forward on both flanks. And a big strong striker in the box is important both for finishing and creating space in front of the goal.
Abby is the best finisher in the world. USA is not finishing. Abby ishould not be a sub. She should be playing forward and scoring with her head!
@ Bob,...Right on..
@Donna,... No way Abby can Last 120 minutes... She has to come on as a Sub, If you want her on the Field at the end of the Game...