Commentary

USA-Australia: Women's Friendly Player Ratings

USA-AUSTRALIA EXPRESS:
April 4 in Commerce City, Colorado
USA 5 Australia 3. Goals: Morgan 14, Heath 53, Rapinoe 61, Pugh 67, 90+5; De Vanna 29, Foord 47, Kerr 81.
Att.: 17,264.

The USA rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second half to beat Australia, 5-3, in what will be the toughest game it will have over the next two months before the start of the Women's World Cup. The good news: Mallory Pugh with two goals off the bench gives the USA another devastating attacking weapon to go along with Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe. The bad news: the USA again incapable of stopping a team in transition.



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

Playing behind a shaky defense, Alyssa Naeher is going to be in the spotlight. She conceded three goals, upping her total to eight goals against in four games in 2019, one more goal than she allowed in all of 2018 (15 games). She was most at fault on Lisa De Vanna's opening goal for the Matildas. Deep into stoppage time. Naeher became just the second American keeper to record an assist, punting a ball deep into the Matildas' half that bounced twice before Pugh put it away for her second goal.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 42/0 (30)

DEFENDERS

Kelley O'Hara is still out with ankle problems, so Emily Sonnett got the start at right back. She was out of position on De Vanna's goal, but she made up for the mistake with assists on Tobin Heath's goal and a nifty layoff to set up Mallory Pugh moments after Pugh entered the game. Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord playing behind her gave center backs Abby Dahlkemper and Becky Sauerbrunn fits all evening. Foord used Dahlkemper as a shield to score the second Australia goal, while Kerr beat her to a header in the 81st minute that reduced the USA's lead to 4-3. Crystal Dunn started out at left back but moved to the right side for the last quarter of an hour.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns) 31/0 (25)
4 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 36/0 (25)
5 Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals) 154/0 (33)
5 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 81/24 (26)

MIDFIELDERS

With Lindsey Horan back in the lineup after missing the SheBelieves Cup with a quad injury, the USA started its first-choice midfield. In planned moves, Rose Lavelle went off after 45 minutes and Horan exited after an hour. The usually reliable Julie Ertz gambled and lost on the ball through midfield that led to De Vanna's goal and she turned the ball over on Foord's goal at the start of the second half.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 78/18 (26)
5 Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns) 65/7 (24)
4 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 24/6 (23)

FORWARDS

The USA again showed it can score goals in bunches as Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Megan Rapinoe all scored. The best goal was scored by Morgan, winning a bouncing ball from young Australian right back Ellie Carpenter and going right at goal to put away her 100th career goal for the USA.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
7 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 147/28 (30)
7 Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 159/100 (29)
7 Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) 150/44 (33)
  

SUBSTITUTES

Subs made the difference for the USA. After slipping on the play that led to Foord's goal, Sam Mewis was a menace in the attack and was involved in the second and third U.S. goals. Mallory Pugh struggled at the SheBelieves Cup, but she was deadly in front of her hometown fans, slotting Sonnett's pass inside the far post for the fourth U.S. goal and adding the fifth at the end of the game when she lobbed Australian keeper Lydia Williams.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
6 Samantha Mewis (NC Courage) 46/8 (26)
4 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 112/47 (30)
7 Mallory Pugh (Washington Spirit) 49/5 (20)
NR Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 270/105 (36)
NR Tierna Davidson (Chicago Red Stars) 18/1 (20)
NR Allie Long (Reign FC) 41/6 (31)

TRIVIA. With her 100th career goal, Morgan became the seventh American to score 100 or more goals. She is tied with Tiffeny Milbrett (100 goals) in sixth place on the USA's all-time scoring list behind Abby Wambach (184), Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (107) and Carli Lloyd (106).

April 4 in Commerce City, Colorado
USA 5 Australia 3. Goals: Morgan 14, Heath 53, Rapinoe 61, Pugh 67, 90+5; De Vanna 29, Foord 47, Kerr 81.
USA --
Naeher; Sonnett (Davidson, 79), Dahlkemper (Lloyd, 85), Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Ertz, Horan (Press, 64), Lavelle (Mewis, 46); Heath, Morgan (Long, 81), Rapinoe (Pugh, 66).
Australia --
Williams; Carpenter, Simon, Polkinghorne, Kellond-Knight (Raso, 68), Van Egmond, Butt (Gorry, 90), Kennedy, Foord (Fowler, 75), Kerr, De Vanna (Gielnik, 57).
Yellow cards: USA -- Rapinoe 49, Mewis 90+1; Australia -- Polkinghorne 84. Red cards: none.
Referee:
Karen Abt (USA)
Att.:
17,264.

Stats:
USA/Australia
Shots:
17/10
Shots on Goal:
11/3
Saves:
0/6
Corner Kicks:
11/1
Fouls:
8/7

19 comments about "USA-Australia: Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Stephen Stephens, April 5, 2019 at 6:49 a.m.

    Jill Ellis is doing her best to make sure this team will have an early exit at the World Cup. 

  2. Chance Hall, April 5, 2019 at 7:51 a.m.

    As always glad to see a US victory.  Great to see Morgan score the 100th goal, now she can play without that added pressure.  Overall I thought the team played well, but we still need some work on defense.  Getting goals from more than one person is always a plus.  However once again our lack of speed and creativity on the front left was exposed. Rapino was forever offsides, a couple of them really bad.  Heath or Press would have given us far more speed and creativity on that side.  Looking forward to thursdays game to see if JE finally makes that adjustment.    

  3. james Fitzsimons replied, April 6, 2019 at 4:11 p.m.

    So Rapinoe, Heath and Dunn are arguably the most talented members of the team, with Pugh and Lavelle.  Rapinoe absolutely drives defenders crazy with her unpredictablity and spon-on passing.  Have you ever seen a game where she has been offsides more?  No!  And she knows it and you won't see it tomorrow.  We've seen the team when either Heath or Rapinoe was absent, not the same team at all and much easier to defend.  Lack of speed, were we watching the same game?

  4. Sharon Anderon, April 5, 2019 at 8:24 a.m.

    Honestly? I haven’t been impressed with our goalkeeping. And I miss the confidence of former GK Hope Solo.  She gave her back line the confidence so they could focus on their main job - defending on the field (instead of worrying about protecting the ball from getting to the GK. 2 different mentalities). I saw our defense caught between those mentalities and rarely did they they play as a cohesive unit that we're used to seeing from USWNT play. 
    I see a small bit of lack of fitness with some players which leads to big gaps and lack of that hornet-like pressure we’ve applied in the past when trying to regain possession.  
    Happy for the win though.  

  5. E Velazquez, April 5, 2019 at 8:38 a.m.

    Poor defense.No skill with the ball.. Ms. Sonnett is not the player for the world cup. The coach  might be responsable for not insisting in the need to cover the attacking forward. She is utterly responsable for the first australian  goal. Ms Ellis  does not inspire the players   as a coach. If we play like last night's game  we wil never win the Cup.

  6. John Soares, April 5, 2019 at 9:28 a.m.

    Wow, top rated team in the world just won a fun game by 2 goals and yet did nothing right!?
    Yes Sonnett was to blame for the first goal, 20 yards out of position.
    There were offside, why not it it's a practice game, be aggressive.
    Solo was a much superior goalie. She's gone, move on.
    Ellis has proven herself an excellent coach and is putting the final touches on the team. Same coach/team that won the last world cup, went 4 years since with barely a defeat and are still favorites for the next cup. 
    Take a breath :)

  7. beautiful game, April 5, 2019 at 10:27 a.m.

    IMHO, both squads showed a lack of constructive ball control. On too many occasions, the rush to deliver a ball into tight spaces were turnovers. Little attention was given to Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS). There was very little change of pace and tempo by both sides. As for the USNT, there appears to be a huge gap in individual player efficacy and decision-making.

  8. Bob Ashpole, April 5, 2019 at 11:19 a.m.

    (I don't agree with the ratings, but then I almost never do.)

    The thought that I took away from the match is that world-wide the defenders man mark poorly. I suspect that the advent of zone defense 2 generations ago is to blame. Certainly from top to bottom training man to man defending is neglected if not completely overlooked. I am beginning to wonder if the current generation of coaches even know how to develop defensive skills and tactics aside from a zone defense. At least during the 80s and 90s when hybrid defense like zonal marking were used, players still needed to know how to man mark and tackle. Now with pure zones every emphasis is put on pressure, cover, balance with a defense numbers up.

    The curriculum ought to teach man to man coverage first as that is the fundamental basis of a zone defense while every zone defense ought to become man to man coverage in front of the goal.

    The problem clearly shows in the quality of man marking and tackling at the highest levels in both the women's and men's sides.  

  9. R2 Dad replied, April 5, 2019 at 4:19 p.m.

    Bob, so many of our midfielders and outside backs are converted attackers--should we really be surprised our defensive chops are poor?

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, April 5, 2019 at 4:41 p.m.

    I am talking about fundamentals that are supposed to be taught to everyone prior to specilization in a position. So not I don't think changing a player's specialty is the cause.

  11. frank schoon replied, April 5, 2019 at 5:35 p.m.

    R2, the problem is not conversion of attackers playing as defenders but the zonal approach to defense that is played today. It doesn't matter if a back is a former attacker or just just a defender, it is the lack of man to man defending that is NOT taught. Just look when a goal is scored from righst outside or right in the penalty area you will see the whole defensive back nice ,in unison positioned square or flat 5 yards away from the shooter and positioned right in front of the goal... 

  12. Bob Colucci, April 5, 2019 at 1:40 p.m.

    USA still needs a goalie!!  There has to be better goalies out there!!!  Can't believe this is the only talent we have!  Where is the next Scurry or Solo??

  13. ForTheLoveOfPele Gallagher, April 5, 2019 at 2:11 p.m.

    Have no problem with the ratings although I think the forwards might be a point high across the board (they have to keep possession more and not give it away so easily). And Sauerbrunn and Dunn might be a point low. The 3rd Australian goal - a header cannot be scored from that distance. It had as much to do with Dahlkamper somehow getting beat on the header as it does with Naeher being caught with her weight on the wrong foot while going backwards. If you look back at the play, Naeher takes a step forward on the cross, then backpedals. When the ball is headed, she's not set and takes a second too long to be able to push off to her left. When the goalkeeping improves, the defending will improve also. Side note - The referee Abt has to understand that studs up tackles are not allowed. I think there were 3 last night and no foul called. Heath could have had her foot broke on one (right before the 3rd Australian goal); on another Lloyd was lucky to have got the ball and not the Australian forward

  14. R2 Dad, April 5, 2019 at 4:18 p.m.

    Can we get a coach rating as well?

    Score is irrelevant, goals conceded is not. Dissapointed with Ellis--she chose to perfect our running faster/kicking longer game, instead of figuring out how we might play against a fast, athletic side like the Aussies. An our back line looked like a flat back four--shame! Ironic that Ellis' comments just before kickoff stressed our building out of the back, but the USWNT did very little of that. All the immediate long balls--so painful. We will definitely struggle against France/Japan/Spain if this approach is all we got. I hope we win the world cup, but Ellis' is not going to be the future after 2019. Regardless of results, Carlos, you better not re-sign/extend her contract. Regardless of results, we shouldn't be playing like the upstarts like Australia. Even England plays a more sophisticated style then we do.

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, April 5, 2019 at 4:51 p.m.

    Actually I don't have a problem with the coaching. I want our style to change to a more technical style, but not in April before the finals. I thought Ellis's experiment in the midfield was very interesting and also successful. (She had 2 creating midfielders lying deep instead of just behind the forwards.) Austrailia seemed to have problems adjusting and they didn't do well containing Heath with 2 markers, which left more space inside.

  16. frank schoon replied, April 5, 2019 at 5:45 p.m.

    This team is never going to get to the next level with Ellis as coach for she herself lacks that ability..
    If it weren't for their 3 horses, Rapinoem, Heath , and Morgan, on the front line this team would have difficulty playing any decent women''s team. 
    I was surprised by Australia considering they are really new on the block like their men's teams. Speaking in relative terms , the Australians took it to the US, for they have the same mentality of willing to fight and be athletic and gave us a game. They in fact moved the ball around midfield very well and they had some decent players. The only difference is that the US has a few more horses up front that made the difference...
    Their style of soccer is very similar to ours. Considering our women's soccer have been  add it much longer than the Ausies, the Aussies did well.

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, April 5, 2019 at 6:25 p.m.

    Frank, your description of the US team could also equally describe the 1991 team.

  18. frank schoon replied, April 5, 2019 at 8:36 p.m.

    Yup, they haven’t progressed after all these years....they keep relying on the same formula

  19. E Velazquez, April 6, 2019 at 10:03 p.m.

    We need a new  coach that has ecperience, knowledgevision and passion  for the game of football (soccer)

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