How would the USA rebound from getting outplayed and beaten by France, 3-1, last Saturday? On Tuesday against Spain, following a poor first 45 minutes, halftime sub Christen Press' solo effort earned the Americans a 1-0 win in what was the first encounter between the two nations in women's full national team play.
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)
The Spaniards managed only four shots, and the two that didn't miss the goal went straight to U.S. goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher. Her only other test came when she leapt high and held on to a late Spain corner kick.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 40/0 (30)
Crystal Dunn, after playing in the midfield in Saturday's 3-1 loss to France, returned to outside back. The Becky Sauerbrunn-Abby Dahlkamper central defense duo kept the Spaniards far from the U.S. goal. Considering Spain's toothless frontline, one would have expected more forays from the U.S. outside backs, Dunn and Emily Sonnett.
5 Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns) 28/0 (25)
6 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 32/0 (25)
6 Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals) 151/0 (33)
5 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 77/24 (26)
Julie Ertz and Rose Lavelle returned to the midfield after sitting out Saturday's game. Lindsey Horan, who had toiled defensively and offensively for 84 minutes against the French, was nearly invisible before being replaced at halftime. Ertz focused on defense while Lavelle failed to penetrate and delivered few accurate passes. One was a 33rd-minute service to Heath, who shot straight at a Spanish defender.
Player (Club) caps/goals
5 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 74/18 (26)
3 Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns) 64/7 (24)
4 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 21/6 (23)
Only Alex Morgan returned to the frontline after the France game, as Tobin Heath replaced Mallory Pugh on the right wing and Megan Rapinoe took over for Christian Press on the left. Heath struggled badly, constantly giving up the ball with poor touches. Rapinoe's only cross didn't find a teammate and she took a corner kick that landed out of bounds. Her bicycle kick hit wide at least created some excitement during a dull first half. Morgan got more touches in the first 10 minutes than she had in 90 against France but posed few problems for the Spaniards. She was frequently offside, and she shot weakly to the goalkeeper Sandra Paños in the 64th minute from 14 yards and straight to Paños from 20 in the 82nd.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
3 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 143/25 (30)
3 Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 155/98 (29)
3 Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign) 146/41 (33)
Christen Press replaced Rapinoe at halftime and in the 54th minute dribbled from inside the U.S. half before unleashing a shot from the corner of the goal area that defender Irene Paredes could only help into the net. Unlike the France game, when Coach Jill Ellis had no answers to France's tactical superiority, the USA improved significantly in the second half against Spain. Also coming in at halftime were Mallory Pugh (for Horan) and Tierna Davidson, who replaced Rapinoe but moved into the outside back position as Sommett inched into the midfield. With those changes, plus Jessica McDonald replacing Heath in the 60th minute, Spain's midfield possession diminished and the USA created more chances.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 108/46 (30)
5 Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) 45/13 (20)
5 Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars) 14/1 (20)
6 Jessica McDonald (NC Courage) 5/1 (30)
5 McCall Zerboni (NC Courage) 8/0 (32) 5/1 (30)
Mewis (NC Courage) 43/8 (26)
TRIVIA: Spain qualified for the 2019 Women's World Cup with eight wins in eight games. The loss to the USA ended its 15-game unbeaten streak.
Jan. 22 in Alicante
Spain 0 USA 1. Goal: Press 54.
Spain -- Paños; Torrejón (Corredera, 65), Paredes, Pereira, León; Losada (Sánchez Falcón, 60), Meseguer, Putellas; Caldentey (Bonmatí, 73), Hermoso (García, 79), Sampedro (García, 73).
USA -- Naeher; Sonnett (Davidson, 46), Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Ertz (Zerboni, 69), Horan (Pugh, 46), Lavelle (Mewis, 76); Heath (McDonald, 60), Morgan, Rapinoe (Press, 46).
Yellow cards: France -- Meseguer 74.
Red cards: none.
Referee: Stephanie Frappart (France)
Shots on target: 2/3
Corner Kicks: 1/4
Oh well. I was not impressed.
link to replay?
Saw the 10 minute highlights, which still don't really give you an idea about how the team played, unfortunately. Frappart called a tight match for a friendly, maybe because she's used to officiating men? Ellis must really like Davidson or she wouldn't keep trying to wedge a centerback into other positions where she's not really a good fit. Once Spain figures out how to finish, we are going to get crushed. Not this World Cup, but from 2020 on. They have improved tremendously.
I thought the US played well. Spain pressed using a lot of energy for the first 30 minutes. The press disrupted the US play, but did not result in a goal. After Spain tired the US started to move the ball better. What I thought the US did well was read and react to Spain's combination passing. Despite good positioning and good combination passing, Spain was unable to significantly break down the US defense.
I got really frustrated with the commentators for their meaningless drivel. It is TV, so constantly describing the plays is irritating. The color commentator needs a better vocabulary. I really didn't care for the constant cited need for "bite" and missing "X-factor". Whenever something is not going well for either team, the same comment is made: "they need more bite". I was close to turning off the sound. I didn't like the FS1 commentators either. Their favorite word and explanation for every was also "bite".
Spain was impressive. In general the team passes well and is well positioned. What their game lacks is the 1v1 play to go with the passing game. Which is what the color commentator apparently meant by "bite" and "X-factor". I didn't care for the frustration fouls at the end, but fortunately no one was injured.
Frank, see what I mean about Ertz. Her replacement has good ball skills but her positioning is terrible in comparison. She spends most of the time while we are in possession with her back to the field. I see the same problem with some of the MNT players.
In fact on both our national teams, the biggest factor distinguishing the better players from the rest is positioning. Some also have poor first touch. (Players making the roster with poor positioning and poor first touch says bad things about the depth and quality of our player pool.)
This match actually provides a good basis for evaluting the team. Our best right back is still recoverying from injury, but we had everyone else available, although some were not 100% also due to recovery from illness and injury. (Although it is our pre-season.)
Morgan was called offside 6 times. I suspect that is nerves as she is sitting on 98 career goals and everyone talks about her hitting 100. It is pressure that I expect she will be past soon.
I was a little dissapointed in the game. Spain obviously passes much better as far as keeping possession, but as usually the US has difficulty able to string 3 passes in a row, a rarity, even 2. The problem with Spain which in their DNA is that they don't produce scorers. Spain has always had to import goal scorers from Di Stefano, Puskas, Kubala, Cruyff, Messi, Suarez, Griezeman, Ronaldo, Bale,etc; its so bad that they had get Costa from Brazil to play for Spain.
Spain looked nice the first half, but second half they got very sloppy, in the manner of how they held on to the ball, specifically, shielding it with an American player on their back and not passing it off quicker.
The Spanish team lacked a certain fighting quality...therefore I wonder how many ,if any, players were from the Basques region.
My honest opinion after seeing these past 2 games and the past years , in light of how we play, how we are structured to play and coached and in the end to move a step higher in our play is to start fresh, get rid of this coaching staff. The US women's program needs an Atlanta United type of improvement.
That means we bring in the best coaches and I would suggest from South America. We need to make this US program enjoyable, shake and bake,creative, etc. The US program needs a serious overhaul, i"m tired of watching 'stiff', programmed,soccer lacking any creativeness. Ellis is basically brought up with English soccer and mentality( which to me is already a negative) and backed up by USSF programmed licensed coaches as her "braintrust"...I'm sorry ,but this is not good enough. If anything the US women soccer program is world renown, the flagship of women soccer world wide, resposible for other countries initiating women soccer and we don't have the best coaching staff.
After all these years the US women's program still has difficulty stringing 3passes together or even two and the only reason we survive is that we have athletes that can score.
We play with same old format, speed, hustle, and athleticism....WE NEED CHANGE!!
You see a country like Spain ,young, a beginner in women International soccer show how the pass the ball around even in small spaces. It still has a lot work to do but they are on their way....
Bob, I watched Ertz this morning, she played OK , she has tons of space to operate in. But what I miss is her connection with Morgan up front, many of the passes of Ertz is wide but rarely straight down. They need to work on that connection. Horan disappeared on the left side and should play on the right
What encourages me about Spain is that they were demonstrating the next step that I would like to see the US take. I think was actually trying to use "positional play" like their 2010 MNT, but it is obviously an incomplete work still. I hope you underestimate Ellis. She is in a tough situation because of the success in 2015 makes change difficult. Getting rid of Ellis would open the door to change, but USSF doesn't like change. If Ellis added an improved build up play to set up our 1v1 players in dangerous spaces, the finals will be very interesting. It is getting late though, and I don't know of any US club playing that style so Ellis has no head start to build on and really no time left to teach old dogs new tricks.
I am somewhat discouraged though because I was hoping to see a change in style in these two matches. Instead this is same way we played 20 years ago. The one thing I think we can count on is that in the women's game, some nation is going to perfect a style able to dominate play through superior technical skills and tactics than the US reliance on physical abilities to dominate other teams. It may not be this cycle, but I think it is going to emerge within the next 4 year cycle at the latest. If the USWNT doesn't change, it will be left behind.
I wonder if Guardiola would be interested in coaching the USWNT. He likes new challenges and it would certainly be new to him.
Bob,We're not going to see change with Ellis. I'm not underestimating her, but she represents what is wrong the American game. It stale, stiff, programmed and not exciting to watch. It would be nice to see Guardiola coach the WNT but that won't happen, but you realize we do need a much higher level coach to change this program. Just imagine a coaching staff from Brazil or from Argentina to give the WNT to boost our playing.
What you say about Spain is right, we haven't our game one iota for we only rely on our athleticism , which has given us success, but we need to improve our game...and Ellis isn't the one that's going to do it.
People might take you literally, Frank. You didn't expressly say it, but you meant successful coaches from Brazil or Argentina, not just anyone with a foreign passport and coaching license. Something in the water here makes the US fans value any coach with a foreign passport more than good US coaches. Your point is to change our soccer we should bring in coaches that are better than the best US coaches available.
I know April Heinrichs has left USSF and not been replaced yet, but my second choice would be to have April watch de Boer training Atlanta for a month. I don't think Atlanta would see a USSF technical director from the WNT as a threat, like they would see a competitor, and might even open up and discuss what they were doing with her.
Bob, I"m glad you understood what I meant as far as the South American Coaches. I expect at least our posters ,here, to have enough common sense not to infer just any foreign licensed coach. But you never know....LOL.
I look at it this way, we need to change course in women's soccer (as wel as men) We our not going to get it from any woman coach for they have never played at the men's highest level. Cruyff once stated those coaches, referring to man here, who go to the coaching school to get the highest license, even though they have never played at a high level, miss about 15-20% of the real knowledge of the game. I still have this interview which he, and Piet Keizer gave concerning those who learned at the coaching schools.
We need to get great coaches, who played at a very high level to work with the women. We need to raise the level of the game, it's that simple. Once we have raised the level of women's soccer than you allow the women coaches to coach, for then they will have been taught the higher level game which will benefit the men as well. For example, once these Argentinian/ Brazilian coaches have establish a higher level in the women's game that will directly influence the USSF coaching school academy coaching program for both men and women.
Bob, Looks like F de Boer just signed the South American player of the year from Argentina, for 13mil for Atlanta Utd. and Henry just got fired from Monaco...would like to see Henry come here.
Frank, re Henry apparently so. He is probably fluent in English and Spanish, or close to it. I don't, however, really know anything about him as a player or coach.
I am thinking out loud here: What you are saying assumes that the highest level of the men's game is relevant to the women's game. The women's game is more similar to boy's youth matches than to senior men's matches due to the physical differences in general between the genders at maturity. So the transferable knowledge would be mostly from experience with men's teams that dominate through superior tactics and skills. What we would need is someone that can train positional play, actually get on the field and adjust player's positions to make them better. I guess that is why you see the need for a coach that has played at the highest level.
I agree with you for the most part. My concern though is coaching methods. You can't coach a women's team like they were men. Women expect a high level of social skills. Slights that might pass in a men's team for months and even years without getting a coach in trouble in a women's team would get you in trouble on the first day. Generally speaking women will hold grudges forever compared to most men. A man coaching a women's team must have good people skills.
My qualification is that Pele himself recognized Akers and Hamm as among the best living soccer players in the world, the only women he selected. I happen to think there a lot of other women in the hall of fame deserving recognition too, but I have a hard time thinking that these two don't adequately understand the game. Both of them were reknown attacking players on teams with 3 forwards of exceptional ability. But then this may be a case of "I don't know what I don't know." :)
The WNT is NOT improving since Ellis took over the team. 1 goal in 90 minutes against an up and coming young team, is not going to get you the WC. All the wins we had in the Ellis era were against mediocre teams that did nothing for the advancement of this team.
These were friendlies Nick. Not that we should be complacent, because I don't think anyone was pleased except with Press's 1 goal. As for youf last sentence, I cannot imagine a more unfair and inaccurate statement.
Why are you posting here if you don't know Ellis was the coach when the WNT won the world cup in 2015, and she was selected as the FIFA (women's) coach of the year. Or is your point that any opponent that loses to the US must in your opinion be mediorcre?
I will, however, agree with your point that the WNT has not significantly improved, not just since Ellis took over, but also not since 1991. They still depend too much on dominating play by physical advantages, and several more nations have caught up to us technically and tactically over the years.
Bob, your last paragraph sums it up
Bob, re, Henry ...here is a quote by Mike Petke his coach at Red Bulls," Talking with Henry about football is like talking with Albert Einstein about physics". We need former greats who are extremely knowledgeable person who can help US soccer, in whatever capacity.
I remember Pele, on the Johnny Carson show ,sitting next to Joe Fink stating all the great attributes about this American player...come on...that's called PR and being a good guest in someone's house, they are niceties... As far as Akers and Hamm, what else can you say for in those days women's soccer was in its heyday and very few countries even had women's soccer....
Expressing the difference about men and womens as the social/gender/psychologically making it difficulr for men to coach, I think is hyperbole. I've coached girls teams and given many private lessons but I never had difficulty with them. I come with the attitude regardless of the gender that there are many aspects to learn about the game, nothing more, nothing less, strictly business. I do know there is a difference between boys and girls during breaks in how they socialize. And I notice that girls are more prone to injuries because they don't anticipate as well and they have a propensity to go for fakes, more so. The reason for that is girls by nature are more trusting as compared to the boys and boys tend to cheat or cut corners. For example I know that if I tell a girls team to do 5 laps without my presence they will carry this out but with boys ,you know there be some who will cheat ...that's the nature of the animal.
In sum I don't see the problem with man coaching the women...
I make a distinction between men generally and male coaches with poor people skills. My thought is that males with poor people skills are better off coaching men's teams.
I agree that girls make fine competitors too once they believe that competing and winning in sports is socially acceptable.
Bob, Men with poor people skills should't be coaching at all .
I plan to go Arizona in April, what is the temperature in Phoenix and Tucson. My wife says about a 100 but I'm not so sure.
Your wife is right about Phoenix. Tucson is a little cooler (8-9 degrees) because of a higher elevation.
Southern Arizona has 5 seasons. The hot dry season is late Spring/early Summer. From May until the 4th of July, usually. After that is a hot rainy season. I have seen it hit 100 here in April, but that is unusual. We don't get many visitors during the hot seasons.
Thanks Bob, sort of looking forwards going to Tucson, Phoenix, Sedona....need to get out of the DC area for a breather...Did you know Jim Givargis, "Giva", he ran an adult league around Springfield, he had a field right off of Braddock road, I think....
If he played on or coached one of the Braddock teams in the NOVA Coaches League I most likely knew him. I don't, however, recall the name. It has been 8 years now since I "retired" from running a small adult club playing in that league. Lots of great adult soccer opportunities there. I miss the people, but not the big city.
I can see your point not missing the big city :)