After the USA's amazing 5-2 final win over Japan, in which it had a 2-0 edge after five minutes and a 4-0 lead after 16 minutes, it’s easy to forget that the Americans were slow out of the gate at the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
The American midfield struggled to keep sustained possession in its opener against Australia, which had the USA tied 1-1 at halftime and could have been ahead but for a couple of big early saves by Hope Solo. Second-half goals by Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe earned the Americans a 3-1 win.
The second game, a scoreless tie with the Swedes, would be the weakest performance from the USA. But one number stood out on the scoresheet following that match: The “0” next to the number of saves Solo was required to make against the Swedes.
The U.S. backline, which after a couple shaky moments against the Aussies, was simply superb. Not just preventing foes from penetrating the penalty area, but also clever with the ball at their feet.
Ali Krieger, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn and Meghan Klingenberg -- the backline, right to left – started all seven games and took four of the five top spots when we averaged our Soccer America report cards from the entire tournament.
The solid backline bought time for Coach Jill Ellis to tweak the formation and for the attackers to find their rhythm. Individually, Lauren Holiday, Tobin Heath, Morgan Brian and Carli Llloyd kept improving as the USA advanced.
After subdued performances in group play, Lloyd scored in each of the knockout-stage games and earned a perfect 10 with a hat trick in the final. It was no ordinary hat trick, but two goals within the first five minutes and a third, two minutes after Holiday made it 3-0, that was struck from the halfway line. Lloyd’s goals alone were enough to clinch the USA’s third World Cup.
after winning early games without playing extraordinary soccer, improved steadily and peaked in the biggest game of them all -- scoring more goals against Japan than the Japanese had conceded in its
previous six games.
5.42 USA-Australia 3-1 (Report Card)
4.77 USA-Sweden 0-0 (Report Card)
5.75 USA-Nigeria 1-0 (Report Card)
5.25 USA-Colombia 2-0 (Report Card)
5.83 USA-China 1-0 (Report Card)
6.31 USA-Germany 2-0 (Report Card)
6.83 USA-Japan 5-2 (Report Card)
AVG. PLAYER GAMES
6.86 Meghan Klingenberg Grades 6/7/7/6/6/8/8
6.43 Julie Johnston Grades 5/8/8/6/8/6/4
6.43 Becky Sauerbrunn Grades 5/7/7/6/7/6/7
6.17 Megan Rapinoe Grades 8/4/6/6/-/6/7
6.14 Ali Krieger Grades 5/7/6/6/6/6/7
6.14 Carli Lloyd Grades 5/3/5/5/7/8/10
6.00 Kelly O'Hara Grades -/-/-/-/-/7/5
5.80 Alex Morgan Grades NR/NR/6/7/4/6/6
5.80 Morgan Brian Grades NR/4/-/4/6/7/8
5.33 Tobin Heath Grades 6/-/4/4/5/5/8
5.28 Hope Solo Grades 7/5/5/5/5/5/5
5.00 Lauren Holiday Grades 4/3/5/5/-/6/7
5.00 Christen Press Grades 6/3/-/NR/6/-/-
4.40 Abby Wambach Grades 3/4/6/3/NR/6/NR
4.00 Sydney Leroux Grades 5/3/4/-/-/NR/-
4.00 Amy Rodriguez Grades -/4/-/-/4/-/-
NR Christie Rampone Grades -/-/NR/-/-/-/NR
NR Shannon Boxx Grades -/-/NR/-/-/-/-
NR Heather O'Reilly Grades -/-/-/-/NR/-/-
NR Lori Chalupny Grades -/-/-/NR/-/-/-
Whitney Engen Grades -/-/-/-/-/-/-
Ashlyn Harris Grades -/-/-/-/-/-/-
Alyssa Naeher Grades -/-/-/-/-/-/-
-=did not play.
(1=low; 5=average; 10=high)