USA-Japan: SheBelieves Cup Player Ratings

Feb. 27 in Chester, Pa.
USA 2 Japan 2. Goals: Rapinoe 23, Morgan 76; Nakajima 67, Momiki 91+.
Att.: 14,555

The USA, 100 days ahead of the 2019 Women's World Cup, gave up the lead twice to settle for 2-2 tie with Japan in its first of three SheBelieves Cup games. After a strong start, Coach Jill Ellis' team lost its cohesion in the second half and gave up the second equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time. Next up for the USA: England on Saturday.

USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)

Alyssa Naeher had no chance on the first goal, a sharp strike from 13 yards, but losing her footing prevented her from blocking Yuka Momiki's close-range shot in the 91st minute. No other saves were necessary as Japan's only other decent shot, by Kumi Yokoyama, hit the crossbar, in the 11th minute.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Alyssa Naeher
(Chicago Red Stars) 41/0 (30)

The USA's opening goal buildup started with smooth passing along the backline, and in the first half the aggressive play of outside backs Kelly O'Hara and Crystal Dunn helped the Americans control the rhythm and dominate possession. A different story in the second half, when a much improved Japan applied more pressure, and the Americans lost their cohesion and began to look vulnerable in the back. Tierna Davidson cleared the ball straight to Momiki, who took full advantage to make it 1-1 in the 67th minute. The second goal came straight down the middle. Dunn moved in to help but was unable to interfere.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals) 113/2 (30)

5 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 33/0 (25)

4 Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars) 15/1 (20)

5 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 78/24 (26)

Mallory Pugh
combined nicely with right winger Tobin Heath, including the pass on the first goal, when Pugh received the ball from Julie Ertz. But Pugh faded badly in the second half before getting subbed. Similarly to when France beat the USA 3-1 in January, the Japanese in the second half figured out they could stretch the three-player U.S. midfield and limit the USA to flank attacks as Ertz had too much ground to cover to create through the middle. On Japan's second goal, Ertz's futile slide to intercept a pass left her on the ground as the Japanese stormed toward the goal. Rose Lavelle's impressive moments on the ball weren't game-changers.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) 46/13 (20)

4 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 75/18 (26)

5 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 21/6 (23)

Megan Rapinoe squandered a breakaway set up by Alex Morgan's through ball early in the game but pounced to the right place to stroke home Tobin Heath's pass on the first goal. Heath's right wing foray shortly after kickoff was the first of many that unsettled the Japanese. Morgan's heavy touches prevented her from unleashing shots twice in the second half, but she made it 2-1 by deflecting off her chest Christen Press' cross.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Tobin Heath
(Portland Thorns) 144/25 (30)

6 Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 156/99 (29)

6 Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) 147/42 (33)

Emily Sonnett replaced O'Hara at right back after the halftime break. The arrival of Christen Press (replacing Pugh in the 75th minute) swung the momentum back to the USA for a short while and her assist was excellent. Carli Lloyd, an 85th-minute sub, had the last shot before the final whistle -- straight to goalkeeper Erina Yamane.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns) 29/0 (25)

7 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 109/46 (30)

NR Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 267/105 (26)

TRIVIA: In 37 meetings, the USA has only lost once to Japan. It's won 28 of the clashes and tied eight. (The 2011 Women's World Cup that Japan won in a PK shootout is officially considered a tie. In two world championship finals since, the USA beat Japan 2-1 for the 2012 Olympic gold medal and 5-2 to lift the 2015 World Cup.)

Feb. 27 in Chester, Pa.
USA 2 Japan 2. Goals: Rapinoe 23, Morgan 76; Nakajima 67, Momiki 91+.
USA -- Naeher; O'Hara (Sonnett, 46), Dahlkemper, Davidson, Dunn; Pugh (Press, 75), Ertz, Lavelle; Heath, Morgan (Lloyd, 85), Rapinoe.
Japan -- Yamane; Ariyoshi (Oga, 59), Sameshima, Kumagai, Shimizu; Sugita, Matsubara, Hasegawa, Nakajima (Endo, 82); Yokoyama (Momiki, 80),  Kobayashi (Ikejiri, 59)
Yellow cards: USA -- none. Japan -- Kumagi 38.
Red cards: none.
Referee: Melissa Borjas (Honduras)
Att.: 14,555

Shots: 13/5
Shots on target: 6/2
Saves: 0/4
Corner Kicks: 8/4
Fouls: 10/6
Offside: 3/2
Possession: 55%/45%

38 comments about "USA-Japan: SheBelieves Cup Player Ratings".
  1. Michael Saunders, February 28, 2019 at 12:27 a.m.

    Not sure why such generous scores fhave been given for some individuals, paticularly Pugh who many coaches I was with wathcing the match, believed did not provide much, short of partcipating in the four pass goal sequence on Rapinoe's goal.    But rather than focus on individuals, it is unfortunate that a score was not assessed to  Ellis.   

    With Horan missing from the midfield, the first question was who would replace her in the midfield?   Mewis was the most logical choice but once again Ellis  benched her in favor of Pugh!  And when Mal was substitued in the 75th minute with Press, Ellis opted to move Heath into a mid role. Within minutes of the subbing, we go up one goal.   Yet  her decision to not substitute Heath for fresh legs with Mewis or Zerboni (a true holding mid),  she believes that another creative midfielder was required!!!    (By the way, she did something very similar in the loss to Sweden in the Olympics.)   

    Also, as your article correctly points out,  the US dominated the first half in large part because of the aggressive wing-back play by both Dunn & O'Hara.   So one understands that O'Hara is still in a rehab mode, therefore, substituting her made sense at half-time... but why with Sonnet whose natural position is a CB although she has played as a wing-back for the NT due to injuries, but is not a natural wing-back.  Why not Short?   Perplexing!      



  2. Bob Ashpole, February 28, 2019 at 1:02 a.m.

    This was a friendly. The only coaching decision that puzzled me was starting the 2nd half with a 523. After they switched out of it, I figured it was only to temporarily make it tougher for Japan's CF to split the US CBs.

    O'Hara, Pugh and Heath play well together. Heath played exceptionally well today, but also was well supported. 

    Michael, I don't understand why you apparently think the US is or should be playing with 2 holding midfielders. Did you notice the triple teaming that Heath drew in the 2nd half? I thought it made a lot of coaching sense to drop Heath into the midfield line, which opened up more space for the forwards. It also sends a message to the nations scouting this game.

    Unfortuneately the rhythm of the game was disrupted at the end. I don't recall ever seeing a match stopped like that to evaluate an assistant's injury instead of simply replacing the assistant. 

  3. Michael Saunders replied, February 28, 2019 at 8:26 a.m.

    Hi Bob; 

    Thanks your input Bob.   

    The diffference between the first and second half was telling.   Removing O'Hara was prudent as she is still rehabing after her surgery, and needs game time for a full '90.  Sonnett is a yeoman player whose work rate I am not challenging.  It  is that she is a true CB and does not provide the same offensive threat as wing-back.  As you  correctly reminded me, it is a friendly so why not utilize another available wing back (Short)?  

    I must have conveyed myself poorly as I was not suggesting two holding midfielders playing at the same time,   With a one goal lead and roughly 15 minutes to play, when you had either a capable Mewis or Zerboni with fresh legs,  it would have been a better choice than to have two creative mids in Lavelle & Heath.    Again it is a friendly, so why not utilize a capable holding type mid? 

    I am also not convinced regarding the "message"  you believe we are sending.  in my mind it reflects a lack of confidence by the coaching staff on the subs.  indeed, we tout our depth; and I hate to be redundant, but it is a "friendly".   As such this is the time to give players minutes. 

    I will not get into a debate on the player ratings other than to say they were generous. Indeed, in light of them, one would expect more than a draw.    However, I must point out that Pugh has not been the same effective threat prior to her knee injury last year both on the NT and Club levels.   

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:09 a.m.

    Micheal, Ellis said her purpose was to use the cup to recreate the physical challenges of a short duration world cup, which subbing under relaxed "friendly" rules in order to have "fresh legs" would undermine. In contrast Japan unrealisticly used pairs of subs apparently to bring in "fresh legs" as a tactic. This suits Ellis's purpose as it increased the physical challenge the US faced during the second half.

    The way I think of rehab for an injury is that when rehab is successfully completed you have recovered 90% of pre-injury function. The final 10% of recovery is expected to happen during the next year of performance. Look at Heath for example. Her injuries were in 2017, and she is clearly fully recovered now. 

  5. beautiful game, February 28, 2019 at 8:25 a.m.

    Anyone know who trademarked "SheBelieves" ?

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:19 a.m.

    I would be surprised if ommitting a space would make the simple sentence "she believes" intellectual property, so I expect that no one has applied for protection.

  7. Mike Lynch, February 28, 2019 at 9:22 a.m.

    Generous ratings. Pugh struggled again. Back line was not operating as a unit especially in the second half; add on not taking care of the ball at times, Japan gets the momentum, Japan equalizes. 

    I am looking forward to England game. I think this game will be more telling of what France could look like in 100 days.

  8. frank schoon, February 28, 2019 at 9:56 a.m.

    My first impression upon watching the Japanese play is why can't we pass like that. Japan played  a controlled passing game, and didn't waver their style one bit even when they were a goal down. 
    Notice how they grouped around the ball, always creating triangles and when possible setting up a  diamond whenever the third man was uncapable of getting the ball. It was nice to see the discipline in their style of play and discipline is part of their cultural makeup, which also has a downside called "creativity', which is not a salient element feature of Japanese soccer.

    We as a nation are blessed with "athleticism" and athletes. Any national team coach has the pickings of great athletes. Athletic prowess is the Halmark of women soccer ,here, which has translated in our successful women's program. BUT athleticism does not translate into good soccer.
    And to be able to translate women's soccer to higher level of soccer we need to bring in high level coaches, a la Guardiola, Tata, types, etc,etc. Ellis is unable to raise the level of women soccer. All she does is to rely on athletic talent to be employed preferable in the transistional game whereby speed and strength and some talent is employed....Same "ole" ,same "ole" stuff. You can just close your eyes watching our women play for it sooooo predictable.
    Yeah, yeah, we can rate the women play,but so what, when you consider we play a meat and potato style of game. 
    Realize, man to man our girls can outrun, out power, out jump, out shoot these Japanese girls.
    Japan realizes this and therefore trained and play a game in a manner that we are unable to benefit from our advantages or at least cut them down substantially. This is why the Japanese weren't going to make a running game out of it for they wouldn't last. And therefore the Japanese chose to play a control passing game. NEXT POST

  9. R2 Dad replied, February 28, 2019 at 8:29 p.m.

    Frank, I think it's telling when Alex Morgan, in her post-match interview, says we need to do a better job of 'taking care of the ball a lot better', and 'managing the game better when we're up', as if ball possession is a tactic and not the foundational strategy is needs to be. I fear the game is progressing and our USWNT is being left behind. Would rather have seen us practice how to break down a packed Japan defense instead of practicing our direct counterattacking. The best teams know how to win a couple different ways--I hope Ellis hasn't forgotten this.

  10. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:50 p.m.

    R2, you’re so right!

  11. Dan Flood, February 28, 2019 at 10:07 a.m.

    The defense was horrible and are directly to blame for both goals.  A simple clearance any U-15 player could make, turned into a terrific assist from Davidson to the opposition on the opening goal.  Davidson played many poor balls out of the back.  On the second goal, why do 4-5 players attack a single wing at the edge of the box and leave the most dangerous part of the field wide open?  You can say Dunn was slow to react but at least one center back should have been in that space.  Does Rapinoe ever get back on D?  She has great ball skills and great service but time may have caught up to her, should have done better with her early chance.

  12. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2019 at 1:08 p.m.

    Dan, I disagree with you. It was very noticeable to me that Rapahoe was running all the way back on defense which wasting a lot of energy. Wings are attackers, they need to save their energy for attack. By running back invites more Japanese players to go on attack. A wing's defensive role is one of positioning. Positioning in the sense that it would be fruitless for the opponent to pass a ball to; two, if the back does have the ball, the wing positions in a manner that back can move up; three, if the back has the ball and looks to pass, the wing should position in a manner that the back is forced to pass the ball in the air over the wings head making it more difficult for the midfielder to control or position in a manner that the back can't pass over the head of the wing.
    But wings having to run all the way back on defense ,is Neanderthal soccer. Defense on the front line has to do more with positional defense, forcing the opponents backline to pass in a certain direction by eliminating certain passing lanes....

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 3:21 a.m.

    I agree with Frank on this, but would point out that the advantages to defending high is to compress the space available to the opponent but ALSO to reduce the amount of running your team has to do. Wingers don't have to fall back to the defensive half when defending high. 

    I don't know how much of a factor it was, but during the first half we defended high while we defended low during the second half leaving Japan more space to play in.

  14. frank schoon replied, March 1, 2019 at 9:20 a.m.

    Bob, remember what Cruyff stated, "The first line of defense is the front line". If the front line does its work they won't have to expand much energy, like forcing the defenders to make a bad pass, or allow the weakest defender to have the ball by covering the strong ballhandling defenders and eliminate passing lanes behind them.

  15. frank schoon, February 28, 2019 at 10:40 a.m.

    What we have is 'athleticism', which is good to have but we employ this characteristic as "THE" major factor in our success. As other teams get better and women's level of soccer improves, "athleticism" will not be a our saving grace , and less of an issue. Would it not been better if we develop our game like ,for example, Japan,or South American, who rely on the technical game, short passes, controlled movement. Can you imagine  not only having a technical ,controlled game but also in addition having speed, power to boot when needed ,which Japan doesn't have.  
    The  USSF failed to understand this point and continually employ the "athletic" angle and therefore we produce coaches that continue this type of soccer.
    We had a rightfooted right wing(Heath) therefore it allowed deeper penetration to the end line, which forced the Japanese defense line so far back in front of their own goal leaving a lot of us to score the first goal. 
    If Heath plays right wing, then Ertz should play right half behind Heath. Ertz is strong, and controller type of player, she would dominate the right flank, positionally and technically which would allow Heath to go deep as possible down the flank. It would not only force the opponents leftback to STAY back to keep in check Heath, but also it would totally destroy any attacking impulse from the opponent's left back or their left flank even. The reason is that we would dominate defensively and offensively with speed(Heath) and control (Ertz). The only I would like Ertz to do is to work with a track coach to improve her running skills ,technically.
    Dunn was at a loss on defense. I don't know her and perhaps that is not the position she is used to playing, but I noticed in her defense, doubts.
    Another thing, we seriously have to work on 'passing'. We pass the ball without 'feel'. I don't know how to explain "feel', for it's a sense you get watching; or rather I place myself in the player's body at that moment making the pass. The players pass the ball like you were hitting it with a bat or croque stick and that why you don't nice back spin balls ,slowing the rate of speed on the ball....

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9 p.m.

    Frank, the impression I had from watching the first half was that Ellis was trying to have the team play more compact (distance between lines) with the wingers spread wide. I found it encouraging, even though it was less than satisfactory. They were also pressing to compact the space for the opponents and generally controlling the middle third of the field. Japan did not play well during the first half.

    The second half was very different. I don't really know why, but the impression I had was that the US started in a 532 which was too many in the back far from the opponent's half. My impression was the replacement of O'Hara as well as the formation change really, really caused a breakdown in support which the US never recovered from, even though the US went back to a 433 very soon. Aggravating the US changes was that Japan started double and triple teaming Heath, which should have been really easy to solve, but we didn't solve it. Instead the coach subbed in Press at winger and pulled Heath back to the midfield line to solve the tactical problem for the team.

    I don't want to say anything more specific on a public forum, but in my view Ellis is trying to improve play but it is a work in progress.

    Bottom line: I liked the first half and was dissappointed with the second. I am not going to fool myself by thinking that the problem was were we were missing three starters in the second half.

    I am curious is you saw the attempt to stay compact with the wide spread wingers in the first half? They were doing a good job in the first half getting a 2nd and 3rd person into the box to exploit the spaces created by the spread wings. 

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.

    "am curious if"

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:11 p.m.

    Dunn is a recently converted forward who still plays forward for club.

  19. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:16 p.m.

    O'Hara was also a converted forward, in order to find a spot on the field for her on a team filled with forwards. Same deal with Dunn but Dunn has a lot less experience at left back due to time and due to her moving up and playing as a left mid while in possession.

    With her it is better to think of the US team as playing with 3 backs and Dunn as the Left Mid.

  20. frank schoon replied, March 1, 2019 at 10:20 a.m.

    Bob, I just watched the first 25min of 1st half to answer your question. Yes, the US played more compact due to Japan playing compact for the US tried place a lot of pressure on Japan. Now ,here is the kicker, you said Japan didn't play well in the first half, but I disagree. I thought Japan played fantastic under the circumstances. Look, the US placed so much pressure on Japan but they didn't fall apart. Most teams, like the US, if they were put under that pressure would begin to kick long balls downfield. The Japanese girls if they attempted to kick long balls would have been outrun by the US girls for the ball, but instead the Japan continued played short little passes, tightly grouped, creating triangles and diamonds around the ball. It was so nice to see Japan handle this pressure by strong ,fast athletes. The US lack  that ability to play like Japan, unphased and continue play their game short passing game.
    What I also noticed is that Ertz plays to predictable at CM. She always passes in the direction of her dribble. I do like Levelle, she's quick on the turn and direction wise. I would love to see Heath as an upcoming CB, and able to team up with Levelle, like a give and go, or change of pace. Heath allows for much more dynamics around midfield.
    I also noticed that Morgan tends to move around positionally but she has to be very careful not close down a passing lane of her own teammate. Furthermore she should not attempt to go the left side to aid Rapinoe for that only creates an extra opponent there. Rapinoe should be left alone in a 1v1 situation, not a 2v2. Furthermore Dunn, needs to work on her passes, also she doesn't feel comfortable in small or tight spaces which is a disease so often present among US players...

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 8:21 p.m.

    I don't like saying too much here, but I saw the same things except I was not watching Japan. I was concentrating on the US team and its positioning and decision making. In hindsight I do recall that Japan's back line supported well to absorb pressure, but I remember a lot of balls Japan turned over in the middle third. I think perhaps the coldness was too much of a hinderence in the early minutes. There ought to be some standards for weather in international matches, but FIFA has largely stayed away from dictating acceptable climate. I assume largely because many countries don't have much choice, although the US does, and soccer is the "world's game".

  22. John Munnell, February 28, 2019 at 10:43 a.m.

    Problem #1: Naeher appears completely incapable of distribution when the ball is played back to her. She may not have always just been kicking the ball away, but the didn't seem to be a chance that she was going to play a ball to anyone's feet. She is simply not comfortable on the ball.

    Problem #2: Morgan's runs are all vertical. She checks back for the ball pretty well, and certainly worked hard last night. But she never seems to bend or cross her runs --- as the Japanese did to great effect. Thus, balls played to her are vertical, which is really hurting our ability to build attacks. (Perhaps this is why Davidson kept striking these beautiful, but completely useless balls forward?)

    Problem #3: We are not moving off the ball well enough to properly support or to pull open space anywhere. The Japanese did have problems. But when they were on, the spacing, timing and intelligence of the movement was just lovely to watch.

    List could go on --- real problem with communication in the back, failure to properly link the back and midfield, reliance on work rate versus intelligence (Rapinoe was really trying to persuade the team to start managing the end game at about the 88th minute...just before an unneeded moment of aggression led to a give-away and ultimately the goal). Short version for me...not a performance that inspires confidence, unfortunately. Let's hope for better on Saturday.

  23. Wooden Ships replied, February 28, 2019 at 6:10 p.m.

    John, I concur with your observations. Keeper distribution is scary. I’m not an Alex Morgan fan, principally for her mostly one dimensional game. Nothing personal and she scores many goals, but her movements and attacking solutions I fear no longer will get us through against the stronger teams. Nor apparently, have we developed more creative strikers/forwards to replace her. Sound familiar? The men have this problem too. The US has coached creativeness out of young strikers. 
    Davidson’s give away was shocking, surprising. Other very good observations in this thread. I would like to see the women win another World Cup, but I think there may be a few more talented teams in France. Hope we look better versus England.

  24. Bob Ashpole replied, February 28, 2019 at 9:05 p.m.

    I disagree about the comment about Morgan's runs. I saw here make excellent movements.

  25. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 3:54 a.m.

    I suspect what you saw was teammates sending long balls over the top in hopes of setting up Morgan's 100th goal. As a former player I cannot begin to tell you how frustrated I was with players repeatedly sending long balls over the top. Forwards don't really have a choice on where they run in that situation, and are loathe to complain about bad service for fear they won't see even bad service. It is too often just a foot race and the backs start closer to the ball.  

  26. Michael Saunders, February 28, 2019 at 10:47 a.m.

    Bob:  That is rationailization 101 if I ever heard it.  Your focus on the injury discussion was not the point other than to state that it was prudent to sub O'Hara and to state the obvious that Pugh was not the same player she was a year ago emanating from her knee injury with the Spirit. 

    Ellis had options for the starting line-up and during the match.  I was disappointed at her decisions for the reasons I already stated, so did the majority of pundits on both sides of the Atlantic.  Her penchant or desire to have an attack-first team sacrifices the defensive end.  Yet replacing Horan with Pugh does not even come close.  Mewis was the better choice as she is more of a two way midfielder.    

    The proof is in the proverbial pudding.  Gosh the Japanese coach picked up on Heath's effectiveness  and addresed it accordingly.   Ellis' response did not work no matter how hard she tries to justify it.    Most disturbing is not being able to hold on to a one goal lead as it speaks volumes as to what was wrong with the team that is ranked number 1 in the world. Not using the touted USNT depth effectively during the match is her error, plain and simple. 




  27. frank schoon, February 28, 2019 at 10:59 a.m.

    I would like , Ellis to try Heath as one of the centerbacks just to see what effects it has on the dynamic of play on the team. For example what benefits it will produce offensively to the other players.  Heath is strong, is a fighter, can run, can dribble in one on one situations. As she comes up,she will create numerical superiority around midfield forcing the opponents to leave their man to pick Heath up which allows for one of our midfielders to go on attack. She  has the ability to beat a midfielder go downfield and create havoc to the centerbacks who are forced to leave their position to meet Heath. And if they don't there is a huge, wide open space no one is covering between the midfield and defensive line. CBs don't feel comfortable moving upfield toward midfield but prefer to stay back.
    It will definitely throw a monkey wrench in the defensive alignment of the opponents. It would also further give our flanks more space. 

  28. Michael Saunders replied, February 28, 2019 at 11:53 a.m.


    Not a bad idea with Heath.  With the sudden rejuvenation of the usually enigmatic Press, we now have another option at wing whereas before it usually was between just Pugh or Heath.    Moreover, Heath often plays the midfield for the Thorns.   My only concern with Heath is her tendancy to slow down a game at times when other options are available.   Still it would open up space and could reduce the pressure on Ertz in her current role.   

    I still hope that Ellis provides playing opportunities to Mewis & Zerboni.   One never knows when an injury will occur during a tournament.

  29. frank schoon replied, February 28, 2019 at 12:47 p.m.

    Michael, with Ertz in the centerhalf role like last night ,I notice she stays back and is never a threat on offense, herself. She is very predictable at that position for all she does is throw passes around, which is fine but it's too predictable. All players except Ertz are build to run and therefore it behooves us to have an attacking backfield like a Heath because all the other girls in the back and midline have speed other than Ertz to cover for Heath.
    Notice in that game, Heath on the wing was sometimes covered by 2or 3 Japanese players. And if that is the case that Heath draws opponents , than you can imagine what would happen if she goes through the middle, it would open up the flanks to pass the ball to wings. 
    We also have to make sure that we keep a wing attack capability like we did last night ,a rightfooted wing on the right and other wing like a Rapahoe who cuts in. I don't like having teams who employ wingers who both have to cut in to shoot with strong leg. One wing should have penetrating ability to end line and cross...
    Your concern with Heath slowing the game down can be fixed ,that's a minor issue. 
    To me the best way to use Ertz is to place her on the right flank. She doesn't lose the ball, she is good for wing support ,is strong and can place nice diagonal passes to the middle

  30. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 3:42 a.m.

    Frank, if CB is the problem (our best CB wasn't available against Japan), then I would think it smarter to put Ertz back to her former CB position and have Heath play the CM pivot in front of Ertz etc. 

    Press shined coming in late against Japan, but there is a reason Heath starts ahead of Press at right wing. 

    One of the disadvantages of playing with so much running is that it means that older players cannot be effective in the midfield. Otherwise someone older like Lloyd could play the pivot because with smart positioning the attackers run at her instead of having to chase the play and she wouldn't have to move far during transitions. Alas US Soccer doesn't play that way--yet. 

    Mexico also likes to run up and down the flanks alot to stretch and overload defenses in their own way just as direct as the US. In a way the US WNT was playing in the first half like the Mexico MNT. 

  31. frank schoon replied, March 1, 2019 at 9:10 a.m.

    Bob, The reason for me to put Heath at CB is that she would have more time, more space, and better field of view than at the placing her at CM; for at midfield you less time and fight. But at CB Heath can decide when to come up. Realize if she was at midfield, there are ton of people in that area, like the opponents midfielders and also the opponent is just to hectic there. That is why Beckenbauer dropped back to sweeper for it allows more time and space.

  32. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 8:24 p.m.

    Beckenbauer? I am thinking too much inside a box and not seeing the box.

  33. R2 Dad, February 28, 2019 at 12:28 p.m.

    Very interesting observations and critical comments--well done! Can't wait to see how the England match plays out. Ellis has her work cut out for her.

    On a side note, I'm dissappointed Fox MatchPass dropped the Nats matches. B/R also not offering them.

  34. uffe gustafsson, February 28, 2019 at 4 p.m.

    Press rejuvenated?
    she have always been a big threat when she plays.
    though I think Ellis is using her as a super sub and clearly that’s working.
    first half the Japanese players struggled with passing lots of errand passes. Second half they really stepped up. Fun game to watch.

  35. Chance Hall, February 28, 2019 at 4:01 p.m.

    Very interesting reading on the comments for this game.  I can see some very valid points in almost all the comments.  I will keep this short.  I have to agree that Rapinoe is past her prime.  She's too slow down the wings, and way too predictable in her play.  She just disappears during the game when they need her the most.  Past time for some young blood there.  Preferably before the WWC.  Keeping this short, the only other comment I have is one I and others have made before that apparently keeps falling on deaf ears.  The GK position really scares me.  I have seen no one of Hope Solo's caliber on the WNT.  Not even close.  Don't know if she's in shape, or even wants to come back and save the US - - again.  But not to realize this obvious weakness is very telling for Ellis and US Soccer.  As always still a big fan, but there's work to do before the WWC.   

  36. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 8:32 p.m.

    The world has seen some great women players, but Hope is in a keeper class by herself. Having said that I think Freddy Adu has a better chance of playing for the WNT than Hope does. The physical challenge would be like running up Pikes Peak on her hands, and remember she had a shoulder injury and required surgery immediately after she left the MNT. 

  37. Wooden Ships, February 28, 2019 at 6:14 p.m.

    Forgot this observation. On the first corner for Japan, does Jill always bring back our center forward to zone defend on the six? I think that’s almost recreational thinking. 

  38. Bob Ashpole replied, March 1, 2019 at 8:37 p.m.

    I think Ellis is always trying alternatives and some of it to make the US more difficult for opponent's to scout. I believe she plays a hide the pea in the shell game even during the group stage.

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