Commentary

USA-England: SheBelieves Cup Player Ratings

USA-ENGLAND EXPRESS:
March 2 in Nashville, Tenn.
USA 2 England 2. Goals: Rapinoe 33, Heath 67; Houghton 36, Parris 52.
Att.22,125.

Once again, the USA settled for a 2-2 tie at the SheBelieves Cup, drawing with England in their second game in the four-team tournament on a chilly Saturday afternoon in Nashville, Tennessee. Phil Neville's Lionesses showed why they are the No. 4-ranked team in the world, going at the top-ranked Americans with confidence.


USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)
GOALKEEPER
With Alyssa Naeher held out because of soreness in her shoulder, 28-year-old Adrianna Franch, the 2018 NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year, earned her first cap and had a game she will quickly want to forget. She was whistled for picking up a back-pass and on the ensuing indirect free kick was beaten to the far post by Steph Houghton in the 36th minute. Franch was not helped by her tentative backline and beaten to her right side on the second England goal scored by Nikita Parris.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
3 Adrianna Franch
(Portland Thorns) 1/0 (28)

DEFENDERS
The USA will not win the World Cup with defensive performances like it has gotten in its first two games at the SheBelieves Cup. Abby Dahlkemper hesitated on Mallory Pugh's backpass, complicating what should have been an easy clearance on the play that led to the England goal in a first half the USA otherwise dominated. When Fran Kirby flicked the ball on to Parris on the right side, Crystal Dunn and Tierna Davidson were exposed and Parris cut in to beat Franch for England's go-ahead goal. Dahlkemper was very fortunate that Ellen White missed in the 62nd minute after she took the ball away from the U.S. center back just outside the penalty area.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals) 114/2 (30)
3 Abby Dahlkemper
(NC Courage) 34/0 (25)
5 Tierna Davidson
(Chicago Red Stars) 16/1 (20)
4 Crystal Dunn
(NC Courage) 79/24 (26)

MIDFIELDERS
The USA sure misses Lindsey Horan. For the second game in a row, Mallory Pugh started in place of the injured Portland Thorns star and was again ineffective, repeatedly turning the ball over with her errant passes. Rose Lavelle stayed in the game after landing awkwardly on her knee in the first half but was not much of a factor in the game. Julie Ertz was forced to drop deeper, often playing like a third central defender, and she was almost rewarded for her heroic work when she just missed on a header that would have put the USA ahead in the 77th minute.

Player (Club)caps/goals (age)
6 Julie Ertz
(Chicago Red Stars) 76/18 (26) 
4 Rose Lavelle
(Washington Spirit) 23/6 (23) 
3 Mallory Pugh
(Washington Spirit) 47/13 (20)

FORWARDS
Megan Rapinoe's volley left England's California-born keeper, Karen Bardsley, with no chance on the first goal, and Tobin Heath finished off a wild scramble in front of the England goal to even the score in the 67th minute. Alex Morgan's 100th goal proved elusive -- she missed on a good look in the 48th minute -- but she was otherwise a force in the U.S. attack, linking up well with her teammates and drawing the England defense apart with her runs.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
6 Tobin Heath
(Portland Thorns) 145/26 (30)
6 Alex Morgan
(Orlando Pride) 157/99 (29)
6 Megan Rapinoe 
(Reign FC) 148/43 (33)

SUBSTITUTES
With the game coming apart around the hour mark, U.S. coach Jill Ellis made three changes that brought order to the game. The big change was the introduction of Sam Mewis, who immediately brought energy and balance to the midfield. Heath also moved into midfield after Christen Press came on for Pugh, and the backline was reshuffled after Becky Sauerbrunn replaced Kelley O'Hara. Sauerbrunn had sat out the 2-2 tie against Japan in the tournament opener with an injury and had been described by Ellis on Friday as "highly unlikely" to play against England.

Player (Club)caps/goals (age)
5 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 110/46 (30)
5 Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals) 152/0 (33)
6 Sam Mewis (NC Courage) 44/8 (26)
NR Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 268/105 (36)

TRIVIA. The USA has only one victory in its first four games in 2019, the fewest wins in its first four games since 2001 when it went winless in its first four games. It should be noted that all four games this year have been against World Cup-bound teams ranked among the top 12 teams in the world. 

March 2 in Nashville, Tenn. 
USA 2 England 2. Goals: Rapinoe 33, Heath 67; Houghton 36, Parris 52.
USA -- Franch; O'Hara (Sauerbrunn 60), Dahlkemper, Davidson, Dunn (Lloyd 87); Pugh (Press 55), Ertz, Lavelle (Mewis 64); Heath, Morgan, Rapinoe.
England -- Bardsley, Stokes, McManus, Houghton, Daly, Duggan, Walsh, Bronze, Parris (Taylor 88), Kirby (Mead 73), White (Stanway 80).
Yellow cards: none. Red cards: none.
Referee:
Marianela Araya (Costa Rica).
Att.:
22,125.

Stats:
USA/England
Shots:
20/6
Shots on Goal:
5/3
Saves:
1/2
Corner Kicks:
5/1
Fouls:
7/7
Offside:
2/1

28 comments about "USA-England: SheBelieves Cup Player Ratings".
  1. uffe gustafsson, March 2, 2019 at 9:50 p.m.

    Sorry but Pugh is not a starter for now.
    press need to be in the game from the start as well mewis. As soon as they got into the game it started to change. I like O’Hara she is doing a great job as outside back, when sourbrunn came in and Davis moved to out to outside back it seem to stabilize the center defense. Think the ladies should be happy that they came out w a tie. Think England not so happy with the out come.

  2. beautiful game, March 2, 2019 at 10:24 p.m.

    SheBelieves is a lousy name for any competition. It sounds so corny.

  3. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 2:34 p.m.

    How 'bout those names on the back...I had a tough trying to figure out who is who...This PC crap has gotta go... just play the game and don't bother with this crap....

  4. Bob Ashpole, March 3, 2019 at 6:33 a.m.

    I was very disappointed in how the US was playing and quit watching watching after 37 minutes. Not because of the goals or the score. I have been watching for improvement in how the US was playing and hadn't given up on optimism until this match. Now I am certain that there will not be a significant change in how the US plays in this cycle.

    My disappointment is not with the ability of the players or with the potential of the players. It is the style of play that troubles me. In my opinion the positioning and decision making were worse than in previous matches. The game plan/team tactics were also inferior than in previous matches. Of course I am "mind reading" the coach's and players' intentions, but I felt that the beginning of this match was not a step forward. 

    In my view, if we don't take a step forward in terms of better play, we will be stuck with trying to beat teams like England with physical advantages. We were fortunate that this same-old same-old style worked in 2015. Change is always difficult, but it is extremely difficult for defending champions. I will still be disappointed if we lift the cup this cycle using this style of play.

  5. R2 Dad replied, March 4, 2019 at 12:40 p.m.

    I haven't been able to see anything other than the highlights, but going by your comments I'd hope Ellis is hitting the panic button now. That specific keeper error speaks to a lack of preparation on the part of the keeper and the coaching staff. We look beat-able; I think Japan/Australia/England all look like semifinalists this cycle.

    Bob, I'm curious what you think about the Nats preference for selecting attackers and putting them in mid-field and defense positions. Certainly this filter has generated returns over the years--is it antiquated in the women's game?

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, March 5, 2019 at 10:43 p.m.

    I think reinventing great players to make stronger teams is a very longstanding, successful and smart practice at all levels of competition.

    The goal keeper error was not what upset me. I was hoping for the US to play a better style of soccer. It is not going to do that this cycle. Change is difficult for everyone, but near impossible for defending champions.

  7. Bill Riviere, March 3, 2019 at 10:51 a.m.

    Clearly their play in the first two matches is far from good enough to give us much optimism heading into the Cup.  The 4-3-3 leaves us too vulnerable in midfield, limits touches by our forwards and forces them to come way back for the ball, but more importantly exposes too many weaknesses in the back line.  The last time I saw a keeper pick up a back pass was a 13 year old club player....

    Like Rapinoe said in the postgame, whatever happened to taking tactical fouls in the midfield?  We're not tough enough....

    I thought the center referee had a worse game than the U. S.   Heath's first half takedown in the area was clearly a penalty and she was right there to see the play.  The defender never got near the ball.  Other dubious non-calls both ways through out, I thought.  Not a reason to blame the outcome on, though.

  8. frank schoon, March 3, 2019 at 12:12 p.m.

    Well, i'm not surprised with the outcome. It began with the manner, or specifically, how Ellis explained to Curry her game plan which was nothing but generalities like,"neutralize their transistions", " have confidence on the ball","activate our forwards"...Wow!! At halftime, Ellis told the players...GET READY FOR THESE GEMS, "Play defense as a unit","Need to play with Confidence", and "On attack play ball quicker and with Confidence". These suggestions could apply to any game!! What great classroom jargon/terminologies, so pendantic, professorial and erudite. I"m sure there are many going for their coaching license would be impressed by this meaningless rhetorical garbage. Real soccer "animals"/ players don't talk like that. Cruyff and his teammates on Ajax would always have a field day of fun when one of these Dutch KNVB licensed coaches would appear  for a training session as part of their internship. By how one of these coaches expresses himself,  players would know right away if it's was one those "classroom" types.


    The soccer jargon/ terms  these coaches would employ were so 'flowery", sanitary and has little relation to the real world of soccer. For example, he would yell out "cross the ball" but in the players world, especially those who play at a high level, that's a meaningless term. No self-respecting soccer player would ever say "cross the ball",but instead say, "spoon it'' or "slice it", for these terms are more specific and deals directy with the situation at hand it ,for it would also tell the players how to position and run off the ball. In other words , there is a lot more detail involved. And this type of detail is what I miss being expressed by coaches, or by color commentators here, who should know better, but instead employ meaningless generalities.


    This is why, I think, we need to hire a "great coach" a Guardiola, Tata type, who has played at the highest level and teach a higher level of detail and able to the players a high level that Ellis is unable to teach. NEXT POST

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, March 3, 2019 at 5:17 p.m.

    We have traded places Frank. I am the one that could not stand watching the team play even one half. As I ssid earlier, the team's positioning and decision making were enough to make me cry in frustration (because I was hoping to see significant improvement in the style of play and didn't care about the result). It was the same old play based on supposed physical advantages. No compactness. Lots of north-south runs and hopeful passes. Formation changes don't matter. Player selection doesn't matter. Not without significantly smarter positioning and decisions.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, March 3, 2019 at 5:28 p.m.

    What crushed me was Morgan making repeated north-south runs to "exploit" her speed advantage of Englands CBs. Then her teammates would send long hopeful balls toward her. I will be kind and call that "unimaginative" conventional thinking (not an idea exclusive to US coaches either). I am done.

  11. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 8:10 p.m.

    Bob, I only watched about 60min. of the game and like you I'm not happy about the team. With all due respect to Ellis is she is a no go for me
    I find it a shame that Morgan, to me, has never worked with a good trainer to improve herself. It's a shame she probably played on a lot of good teams but none of these coaches improved her. She has that typical tick about wanting to run. To break her of that is to place her in a position whereby running is not the first thing you want to do with the ball, but instead look more and think and this would be done playing in the backfield. Back with her regular team her coach should do that when it is possible or like in intra-squad or scrimmages

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, March 3, 2019 at 10:31 p.m.

    I am assuming Morgan knows how to play, but is running north away from the ball because that was the coach's game plan. I have been watching her play for years and seen her drift, move inside and outside, and drop to find good supporting positions with proper facing. She moves if she is free to do so. And if the coach wanted her to do something instead of running north away from the ball, the coach could have told her so. 

    To me good positioning is a fundamental that players learn early from playing, and that is the point of the small sided keep away games coaches are supposed to be using.

    The coaches and USSF typically talk about using "rondos" these days. Yes a great player can make good players even better like you say, but good positioning is something learned by playing. The problems you are talking about doesn't take a former great player to understand. It is fundamental stuff, not advanced stuff. So I blame the coach, not the player.

  13. frank schoon replied, March 4, 2019 at 10:04 a.m.

    Bob, good points, but in itself, there is nothing wrong with running a North to South pattern. It all depends on the players you surround yourself with for it deals  with the "Optimization of Functionality" of the players combined.{How do you like those words... Ellis inspired me :) }
    You are so much more familiar with the Women and Morgan than I am.  I'm going to look at this game again and study Morgan, but here, I'll give an example of the polemics( Ellis inspired).
    If you look at the wings, Rapinoe and Heath, then ask yourself if there was an East-West movement of Morgan, which flank would be better for her to go to. Lets follow the Cruyffian way of thinking. 
    One, the leftwing, Rapinoe is rightfooted and the rightwing Heath is also rightfooted and therefore crosses will come from the right side not the left; penetration to the endline will be on the right flank; penetration down the endline forces the opponents not only further backwards but also forces the defenders to choose between looking at the ball or their man but you can't do both; penetration down the right flank causes the opponent's backline to spread out as compared to the left flank where Rapino will tend to cut inside employing her rightfoot ,which as a result will clog up the middle. 
    Looking at just those few points, it would not be beneficial for Morgan to run East for than she would bring an extra defender on the right flank space which has the effect of clogging up the space for Heath to operate in.
    Just on this, you can't have Morgan run an East-West pattern but perhaps an West but only after Rapinoe cuts inside leaving her flank. The only exception for an East-West pattern of either of the two wings were on the midline and Morgan can an extended run downfield.

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, March 4, 2019 at 8:01 p.m.

    I am a simple guy. I would look for the spaces and play the ball with whatever foot was tactically faster. If I was left wing, I would cross with the left. I rarely cut inside because it was tactically faster to pass to an open team mate than for me to dribble into the center (also allowing the defense to collapse into the center).

    That is how I taught kids too. Two-footed play is tactically faster.

    As for what is the most successful decision, my view is that you have to do the other things too in order to keep the defense honest. In other words if all the goals are scored by attacking down the right flank and then passing back to a late run at the 18, you cannot just do that because the defense will cheat on you. You have to try the left side and the center too in order to make the right side attack work. 

    You are correct that there is nothing inherently wrong with running north south, except that a diagonal run gives the runner a superior facing for receiving the ball while turned upfield and provides a higher percentage opportunity for accurate passing to feet. The way I put it is that not everyone should be running straight upfield away from the ball, and Morgan (no one in fact) should not be making the same run every time. Instead of all three forwards running straight upfield, someone should be showing in the gap. This is just basic ABCs of soccer.  

  15. frank schoon replied, March 5, 2019 at 9:39 a.m.

    Bob, I agree on what you're saying. I had mentioned that if Morgan would run an East/West run,it would be when she is positioned 10-15 meters ahead of Rapinoe and Heath. In other words, if Rapinoe and Heath were at midline,lets say, and one of them would receive a pass. I would expect Morgan to make a diagonal run towards the flank,way down. In this manner the ball movement and attack would be much faster. But I don't see that movement when Heath or Rapinoe are positioned much further downfield, for then if Morgan makes an East/West run then she would make it tougher on them and perhaps get into Rapinoe's or Heath way.  Like Cruyff says, if you want to help someone that doesn't mean coming towards your teammate but rather go away.
     What Morgan should do is to make a counter run, in other words, if Heath receives the ball , Morgan should make a run a diagonal run away towards the far side of the penalty box. In this manner Morgan creates space for herself to make a run toward the near post. I have not watched WNT or know the personalitie(s) like you. I'm going to watch Morgan in tonight's game. I wish she had long blonde hair so I can spot her easier; you know Zardes blonde rug  :)
    Did you also note that against Japan, Heath had  2 or 3 defenders coming to her, which is another reason Morgan should stay away from Heath. There is old saying at Ajax, and that is when you're a wing and draw two opponents to you, your job is done....

  16. Nick Gabris replied, March 5, 2019 at 1:31 p.m.

    Totally agree Frank! I have been espousing these thoughts last year when we were playing those mediocre friendlies, (just to get a win) well now it's payback time. a waste of a whole year. This coaching staff is not knowledgeable enough for a national team.

  17. frank schoon replied, March 5, 2019 at 2:06 p.m.

    Nick, don't even get me started on this garbage. I've had enough of this BS...talking about wasting time and Talent....

  18. Bob Ashpole replied, March 5, 2019 at 11:08 p.m.

    I believe Ellis and the WNT players understand the game and understand positional play. I believe success (3 world cups and 4 gold medals) is the problem. No defending champion wants to change its successful style of play. We have been very successful depending on physical advantages to win matches. The problem is that other nations are catching up to us, and we eventually will need to be able to dominate games using superior positioning and skills too, if we are to continue as No. 1.

    Apparently we are doomed to reenact England's MNT failure to change after WWII. Disaster may not come next cycle or even the cycle after that, but it will come eventually if we don't change.

  19. frank schoon, March 3, 2019 at 1:10 p.m.

    If both teams secretly exchanged jerseys at halftime, one wouldn't notice the difference because of their similar style of play. In other words, US soccer is basically English soccer, glorified. Thanks or rather NO Thanks to the English influence of trainers and coaches upon US soccer in the past 50 years. I find it more of curse rather than a blessing.
    We CAN'T or are unable to build a proper attack up from the back. The outside backs so often stand stationary waiting for a ball. And when that occurs we are outnumbered on the field 7v3 for our weak side is totally out of the game. This is basic 101 stuff and to see this at this level is a reflection of the coaching they are getting. So many square passes in the backline tells you that we ,as a team, don't position well off the ball in order to allow the ball to go forwards.
    Furthermore, in our build from the back, we are not technically versed enough to skip a station to employ the 3rd man off the ball facing downfield on the run. For example, our centerback passes over the head of the opponent thus skipping one line, Dunn's line ,let us say, to Lavelle who has her back facing downfield. As the pass is traveling to Lavelle, Dunn positioned in the line between the centerback and Lavelle runs facing downfield and receives a one-touch pass from Lavelle. That is how you beat the pressure of high defense of the opponent in the build up.
    Also, I see so often square passes in the backline right outside of the penalty box, and fortunately enough doesn't result in an interception by the opponents. There was one square,from our right back to our left centerback...Unbelievable. At Ajax, during Michel's time if anyone ever made a square pass in their own half like that, you would be benched! Does anyone remember Italy-Brazil, WC'82  Paolo Rossi's interception and scoring... Remember an intercepted square pass means 3 of your teammates were beaten.
    Another stunt that could bench an Ajax player was if the right back passes to the right wing....That is one of the worst passes you could possibly attempt....But in today's soccer these golden principles have been trampled by the "unwashed" for it's so often seen.NEXT POST.

  20. Wooden Ships replied, March 3, 2019 at 3:31 p.m.

    As always Frank, good stuff. Im
    afraid however that we can’t see the forest for the trees. The explosive growth of the game here has been high jacked with novice, less knowledgeable types which have tried to fuse a US sense of athleticism and strength (giving in to eggball influences) with the ancestral homage to colonial England. Nothing personal but the English player is far from impressive. This is a power struggle and until those in charge recognize the deficiencies or are unseated, we will have more of the same. And you’re correct it’s been around 50 years. I loved the British rock invasion, the football no.

  21. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 3:37 p.m.

    LOL, what can I say....Like the rock invasion myself and I love their history.....

  22. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 4:15 p.m.

    Correction, I meant to say outnumbered 10v7 not 7v3

  23. frank schoon, March 3, 2019 at 1:44 p.m.

    The US lacks good attacking options. For example if Ertz was marked tight,as result one would see
    many long balls coming from the back. We need to put Heath or someone of her ability at centerback. She has the ability to be an attacking centerback, going forward, creating numerical superiority in two ways , either position into midfield or beating an midfielder one on one. Currently we're playing a two centerback syste more like your typical English centerbacks who usually not your better technical players employed  used for defense.
    Instead of having 2 stiffs as center backs, I would like to see a player like Heath and one shorter, like a Dunn ,as the other centerback. In other words we have a balanced centerback system one is short and quick and the other tall and fast attack oriented. 
    Realize we have lots of athletic prowess on the team so therefore we don't need 2 tall centerbacks. 
    With that in mind our defensive back line should move up at least 10-15 meters further up field for we have enough speed to cover the area left behind. We do also need a goalie who can come out quickly. This as result makes our team compact as well.
    When we have an attacking centerback like a Heath, that would obviate Ertz continually having to come back for the ball with her back facing downfield. This sets into motion, at the same time a give and go situation between Ertz and Heath, if it's warranted. Also, we need rely less upon the backs for in the middle we would always outnumber the opponents 3v1, that is Ertz and the two centerbacks. This would allow for much more attacking option. Notice how Ertz played in the beginning of the second half between the two centerback which was a total failure. Ertz is not a defender and besides she is too slow for that position. As a result, Dunn is was treading water out there on the left side causing us to play in fact with one less man and as a result England's second goal.
    I'm totally clueless as to Rapano. She should as an attacker stay as deep as possible downfield forcing the opponent's back to go backwards. But instead Rapano was often found around midfield line or in her own half , which means when she receives the ball she would not only be dealing with the opponent's back but also an opponent's midfielder thus creatin 1v2...Again, this is basic Wing 101 stuff that should have been taught to her...
    Furthermore, I would like to see Morgan to add another dimension to her game , which is being able to hold on the ball in order to let types like Heath( if she's a centerback) and Lavelle to come down, this would greatly increase the attacking option for then have Rapano, and the other wing....



  24. R2 Dad, March 3, 2019 at 3:07 p.m.

    link to a replay? i wasn't able to watch earlier....

  25. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 3:20 p.m.


    FOX Sports live games and streaming video | FOX Sports GO

  26. uffe gustafsson, March 3, 2019 at 4:42 p.m.

    Frank it’s done to inspire young girls to be the best soccer players they be, as in knowing that the women on the pitch have role models they look up to for inspiration. Yes a bit confusing with the names unless you know every players. 
    That tornament is to inspire a new generation of players.

  27. frank schoon replied, March 3, 2019 at 8:27 p.m.

    Gotcha, Uffe. They should have kept their original names on the back and placed the other name on the front of the jersey.....

  28. Jim Mashek, March 3, 2019 at 4:44 p.m.

    About the trivia: didn't the first 4 games of 2001 include sending a college all-star team to the Algarve so that the pros could participate in training camp ahead of the first pro league season? If so that year needs an asterisk next to it.

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