USA-Spain Women's Friendly Player Ratings

March 8 in Harrison, N.J.
USA 1 Spain 0. Goals: Ertz 87.
Att.: 26,500.
* * * * * * * * * *

Spain matched the USA in shots and dominated possession, but with three minutes left, after a foolish Maria Leon foul on Lynn Williams, Christen Press curved in a free kick that Julie Ertz headed into the net from close range for a 1-0 win in the SheBelieves Cup on Sunday in New Jersey.

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


Alyssa Naeher's three saves were all shots straight to her, demonstrating the Spaniards' biggest weakness: finishing.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 63/0 (31)


Left back Crystal Dunn keeps ending her attacks with unproductive crosses. She gifted Spain a corner kick in the 57th minute and allowed a close-range shot from No. 9 Cardona in the 69th minute. Right back Emily Sonnett's midfield giveaway enabled a Spain counterattack in the second half as the USA struggled to find momentum. But both outside backs prevented threatening wing play from Spain. Central defender Abby Dahkemper's long passes launched some attacks and she helped limit Spain to long-range shots along with her central partner Becky Sauerbrunn, who rebounded from her subpar performance in Wednesday's 2-0 win over England. Sauerbrunn blocked a shot and intervened in several Spanish attacks.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Emily Sonnett (Orlando Pride) 45/0 (26)

6 Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage) 60/0 (26)

7 Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns) 176/0 (34)

5 Crystal Dunn (NC Courage) 103/24 (27)


Spain outplayed the U.S. midfield for much of the game, demonstrating the value of accurate passing while keeping possession for 60 percent of the game. Defensive midfielder Julie Ertz darted forward twice in the first half for counterattacks that fizzled with poor touches from Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd. Ertz herself wasn't immune to faulty passing, but she helped prevent the Spanish from translating midfield possession into frontline chances, and she headed home the gamewinner to avoid the first U.S. shutout since 2017. Samantha Mewis's 60th-minute shot required a big save from goalkeeper Sandra Panos, who otherwise faced few tests aside from high balls from the flanks and corner kicks. Rose Lavelle's promising moves early and late in the game sandwiched a long lull in which she hardly contributed.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
4 Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit) 44/12 (24)

7 Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 101/20 (27)

5 Samantha Mewis (North Carolina Courage) 66/18 (27)


Megan Rapinoe, an unrecognizable FIFA Player of the Year, needs to stop taking free kicks, which she's been wasting with major inaccuracy for the USA, and improve her passing. One of her corner kicks didn't reach the goal area. She escaped a yellow card when her most emphatic action of the day was blasting the ball out of bounds before a Spain free kick. Rapinoe's feed to Carli Lloyd, who shot weakly to the keeper, in the 43rd minute was the only highlight for Rapinoe. Lynn Williams blazed though Spain's defense in the 47th minute only to send her pass to a Spaniard. She got fouled for the free kick that led to the goal. The ineffective Lloyd and Rapinoe exited in the 67th minute.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
5 Lynn Williams (North Carolina Courage) 27/8 (26)

4 Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 293/123 (37)

3 Megan Rapinoe (Reign FC) 167/50 (34)


Christen Press' 77th-minute foray on the left wing came when the USA needed a spark but it ended with a bad pass. She delivered a fine in-swinging free kick that Julie Ertz nodded in the net. Press deftly scooped a pass to Williams on the sequence before the free kick.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

6 Christen Press (Utah Royals) 137/57 (31)

4 Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns) 167/33 (31)

5 Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns) 85/17 (25)

nr Jessica McDonald (North Carolina Courage) 19/4 (31)

TRIVIA: Twelve of the USA's 50 goals in its last 14 games have been headers.

March 8 in Harrison, N.J.
USA 1 Spain 0. Goals: Ertz 87.
USA -- Naeher; Sonnett, Dahlkemper, Sauerbrunn, Dunn; Ertz, Lavelle, Mewis (Horan, 71); Williams (McDonald, 90), Lloyd (Heath, 67), Rapinoe (Press, 67).
Spain -- Panos; Corredera, Paredes, Leon, Batlle; Cardona (S.Garcia 78), Guijarro (Caldenty 62), Putellas, Torrecilla, L.Garcia (Redondo, 87); Hermoso.
Yellow Cards: USA -- none; Spain -- none. Red cards: none.
Referee: Katia Garcia (Mexico)
Att.: 26,500.

Shots: 9/9
Shots on target: 4/3
Saves: 3/3
Corner Kicks: 7/4
Fouls: 15/14
Offside: 3/1
Possession: 40%/60%

22 comments about "USA-Spain Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. William Thomas, March 8, 2020 at 10:19 p.m.

    Yikes!  That was close!

  2. R2 Dad, March 9, 2020 at 1:10 a.m.

    We're lucky Spain still hasn't developed a finisher. They hit the post, had all that possession, pressed effectively--eventually they will make it tell but for now we can break on the counter and score more goals. Right now, there are 3 teams to which we cede possession: Japan, Spain & France. Is 3 too many or enough? How many more teams will we allow to better control the match? As the dominant womens team in the world, shouldn't that number be zero?

  3. Bob Ashpole replied, March 9, 2020 at 7:43 a.m.

    The answer to your question is obvious. The US is no longer the dominant team in the world. USSF's refusal to allow change guarantees that the US WNT will lose respect. Hmmm.

  4. R2 Dad replied, March 10, 2020 at 3:46 a.m.

    I agree w your statement, but think USSF would not as they are busy resting on laurels. This message is landing on unhearing ears back in Chicago. What else can be done to raise the alarm? If we wait to fail before demanding change, we will have lost an entire cycle or two in the mean time. What to do?

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, March 10, 2020 at 3:26 p.m.

    It is 1950, and we are England. It took years and two humiliating defeats by Hungary for them to realize that time had passed them by.

  6. Bob Ashpole, March 9, 2020 at 7:28 a.m.

    I was most impressed by Spain last summer. They have improved faster than I expected.

    There is no reason except coaching, that the US WNT doesn't use positional play. The US must adopt positional play if it is to continue to be the best in the world.

    Otherwise Spain will surpass the USA soon. And that will show others the way.

  7. frank schoon, March 9, 2020 at 10:47 a.m.

    Watching this game after only 17min. tells me how bad the US coaching/development is. Spain showed the US how to play soccer. Did you see the triangles, the change in tempo of their passes, the ball handling under pressure, holding on to the ball untill the last second then passing it under pressure, to an open player. The US could not stop Spain's build up from the back because these can a handle a ball, pressure or no pressure. It was enjoyable watching Spain play 'soccer'. 

    We are getting away with playing this simplistic type of soccer because we seem to have the individual horses, the athletes, but what good are they if they play a team that keeps ball possession and makes good decisions in keeping the ball.  Beating teams 6,7,8-0 does not reflect good soccer. And as long as the American fan as well as USSF doesn't realize this there will be no improvement in our game. 

    I"m disappointed in our new coach for I don't see any level of improvement in the quality of our game. No doubt we will win most of our for our women's soccer for their results but it is certainly not on their quality of play.

    The overal skill level of our game needs so much improvement, just take passing, for instance. We have no touch or feel when we pass. How can I explain touch or feel on the ball when passing the ball. I would not call it passing but 'abusing' the ball. The manner a player passes the ball can say so much about how a player thinks the game at that moment. The direction of the pass ,to which foot to pass to, the speed of the pass can tell one whether a 3rd player is involved or just the 2nd player.  I CAN'T BELIEVE they have Rapinhoe run to the opposite side of the field to take a direct free kick in the opponent's third....ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!! YOU mean to  tell me there is no one else that can execute this simple ball. As a matter of fact Rapinhoe is more dangerous to be on the receiving end of this ball....

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, March 9, 2020 at 5:38 p.m.

    The problem is that most people will not be able to see a difference between Spain's and the USA's play. The specific things you point out as errors are promoted as conventional wisdom in the US.

    We need USSF to change and embrace positional play. I am not sure how that can happen when they think they are already doing that. (They brought in Dutch experts to rewrite their coaching education and they brought in Earnie Stewart to run both mens and womens programs.)

    The problem is that they don't know what they don't know.

  9. R2 Dad replied, March 9, 2020 at 7:35 p.m.

    "they don't know what they don't know". So how does USSF get smart in this regard, Bob? I thought the reason we got Earnie and GB was because they HAD been exposed to other, more sophisticated environments and training regimes and would be able to infuse those elements into our programs? I only have a little hope on the men's side, but I'm going to be gutted if our women just tread water as other countries overtake us. We won't have a Couva moment for the women, because they will always qualify for the WC. But the day will dawn when the ladies lose AND get outplayed. I'd hoped that wouldn't be until 2027 but now I'm thinking 2023 at this rate.

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, March 9, 2020 at 8:35 p.m.

    I am not the person to ask. USSF should have asked Tata before he went to Mexico. The best person to ask imo is Pep. I would even ask Arena and Bradley. That they didn't use it with our MNT doesn't mean that they don't know what it is.

    I would also ask April Heinrichs and Jill Ellis. From watching what Ellis did in her last cycle, I am convinced that she understands positional play. I could see elements that she used and I think I understand why she chose the style she did. It worked as planned. It wasn't positional play like Spain plays it, but that doesn't mean Ellis doesn't understand positional play or appreciate the need for change.

  11. frank schoon replied, March 10, 2020 at 10:14 a.m.

    Bob, don't think that bringing in these so-called Dutch experts,  professors of soccer types, theoreticians/educators of the game, is to somehow going to improve our game. These are the wrong types ,as Wiel Coerver once described them as licensed professors who could spend hours discussing a potted plant. Ernst Happel ,described by Beckenbauer as the "Crown Jewell' of coaches,once stated he wouldn't waste his time even talking 'tactics' with one of them,specifically Kessler who was head of the Dutch KNVB coaching academy, for they are at a level where they would only understand "Tic-tac" discusions but not tactics. 

    And to give Earney Stewart that much credit because he's from and played in Holland is mind boggling. He was basically is a second rate player playing for a second rate club, like GB. Just because he played in Holland doesn't give him an air of expertise.

    If I was going to improve our soccer I would definitely not bring in these over valued, nitwits from Holland. There are a lot better people from Holland that could do a much better job, 'real McCoys' types who have done something in the game and who really give much needed expertise....

  12. frank schoon replied, March 10, 2020 at 10:19 a.m.

    R2, I wouldn't call playing for 2nd division club in Holland (GB) as a two-bit centerback, or like Earney who played for a second rate club in Holland, both of them never known for their technical dexterity and deep game insights,as experts who can improve our soccer development. I think we're really scraping the barrel here.....

  13. Bob Ashpole replied, March 10, 2020 at 6:43 p.m.

    I don't think that, Frank. I was saying "they", referring to USSF, think that, which is a problem.

  14. frank schoon, March 9, 2020 at 11:15 a.m.

    I'm not impressed with Dunn who has difficulty 1v1 in small spaces under pressure which can be said of all the US women. Likewise, I'm not impressed with Williams ,the right wing, it's all athleticism. I would like to have seen Heath how she would have fared. But most important is the coaching staff is not teaching the wings where to position  on offense and where  position upon receiving the ball, which tells me the coaching is not up to snuff, like the previous coaching staff...

    Rapinhoe, needs to help out on defense, position-wise only, for at times dropping back at midfield, pinching in to help out in the middle,fails to take care of the Spanish right back , thus allowing her free space and possibly create a 2v1 situation against Dunn. But fortunately the Spanish failed to take advantage of that opportunity.

    I noticed in our build up, I counted 4square passes, which is unreal!! That tells you we don't know how to position off the ball further upfield. Our left centerback in the penalty box stands about 3 meters from the goalie asking for the ball, UNBELIEVABLE!!!!! 

    THIS IS ONE OF THE PROBLEMS OF OUR COACHING, WE DON'T KNOW HOW TEACH HOW TO BUILD UP AN ATTACK FROM THE BACK.....PERIOD!!!!! When you build up an attack you need as many players behind the ball as possible for this away you avoid quick counter attacks. But the first pass is TO the centerback who is not only one of the weaker technical players but our whole team other than her is POSITIONED IN FRONT of the ball......that is DISASTROUS..TECHNICALLY AND TACTICALLY. The first pass out of the backfield in the buildup should be deep or VERTICALLY NOT HORIZONTALLY OR SQUARE. REMEMBER  it is always length over breath. A deeper pass allows for the second pass to a player facing downfield on the run which is how the attack begins via the 3rd. man. But we don't even use 3rd man because  we don't even have the ability to give nice give and go's , like Spain does....

  15. Bob Ashpole replied, March 9, 2020 at 5:42 p.m.

    I disagree about Dunn. In my opinion she does well 1v1, but my standard for judging forwards is being able to beat defenders on the dribble 1v2. Not very many players are that good at any level of the game.

  16. frank schoon replied, March 10, 2020 at 9:49 a.m.

    Bob , Dunn is not strong in 1v1 siuations when she receives the ball to the feet in small spaces with a man on, but she's OK when she has the ball on the run(in open space)meeting an opponent on the flank for she can use her speed and athleticism

  17. Bob Ashpole replied, March 10, 2020 at 3:34 p.m.

    I agree with that last statement, Frank. But then everyone is better when running at the defense then when receiving the ball standing still. Running at a stationary opponent is worth at least 1 step.

  18. frank schoon replied, March 10, 2020 at 4:14 p.m.

    Bob ,that is true perhaps on paper but in reality like Cruyff states 'you are either good in small or good in large spaces but you can't be in both", a good example would be MB who wouldn't stand a chance trying to employ running at a back for that is not his constitution as a player.

    A good example was '74 van Hanegem the slowest player on the '74WC dutch team as well as in Holland. The coaches wanted to improve his speed but as a result he became worse as a player for he his body, his thinking, his anticipation, his shielding whenever he had the ball the way he positions himself to receive the ball, to pass the ball, ALL  was related and intertwined to how he played. He was one of the smartest players ever to play in Holland and thought usually 3 to 4 movements ahead in order to compensate for his lack of speed. Coaches overlooked that aspect and realized a player body, thinking and technical parts is so much related to his make up.

    The same thing happened to Helmut Haller , one of the German greats who likewise was slow and coaches wanted to increase his running speed, which resulted in throwing his whole timing off.
    Beckenbauer was to told not to use the outside of his foot to make passes. The coaches were wrong for Beckenbauer was pidgeon toed which forced him to pass with the outside of the foot.

  19. Chance Hall, March 9, 2020 at 12:45 p.m.

    I feel Spain has been our stiffest opponent to date.  It was a pleasure watching their buildup play and passing with a purpose.  If they had beter finishers the game might have ended differently.  I always like it when the US win, but some changes need to be made.  First, the lineup.  Press should be starting.  She is faster, smarter, and unpredictable.  Her passes, shots, and kicks are a real weapon.  To be kind, peeno has struggled, and should not be taking our kicks.  I think Heath and Horan could give Ertz some badly needed help in the midfield.  Ertz has been our saving grace in the middle.  Sometimes it seems she's everywhere.  Second, when playing a team that's technically more skilled than yours, possession is part of the answer.  They can't hurt you or score if they don't have the ball.  Also passing is essential to possession and moving the ball with a purpose. Even the best athletes tire after chasing the ball and endlessly playing defense.  Last, I'm not sure about playing zone defense in the goal.  Seems our opponents find gaps or openings in every game.  I favor a combination of zone and man marking.  I like having someone shadow their most dangerous player on corners or free kicks.  The US has a good team with good players, but we need to learn and change to contine to be world and olympic champions.  Go USA!       

  20. Ron Frechette, March 10, 2020 at 7:39 a.m.

    New coach and supposedly a new system but more of the same. I saw Spain in France and yes they are enjoyable to watch and enjoy. US is playing to what I think is to the percentages, pounce on mistakes by-pass as many defenders as possible on the first pass and use our athletics to get behind their defense. (Percentage I talk about is the one about how many passes you need to score!) The overall technical ability of the US team is some of the best in the world, but is not keeping pace with Spain, France, etc… This is done by coaching at the club and development level and can only be reinforced at the national team level. How many US players make passes under some pressure are delivered to the mid-thigh and higher! It takes some very good talent to bring the ball down and play using only 3 touches – but if the ball had been delivered mid-shin or lower and with correct pace/texture of the pass it would allow for smoother and quicker movement. How many times did you see a US player have to go to ground to keep the ball due to the pass not being strong enough or be placed on the wrong side/area/passing lane?

    The old adage of you can teach good tactics if you are poor with your technical shows up for the US in games against the best. The US has not been a possession based team for many years unless they are playing against an inferior opponent. But the commitment and athleticism is allowing the US to find ways to win.

    Its about coaching at the youth and club levels. National team coaches are dealing with what they have and managing the personalities to make a team be a team. Yes this is a USSF coaching problem. How to correct this is difficult when parents of players will pull them from teams/clubs if they are not WINNING even if the player is being coached to be better...

  21. Bob Ashpole replied, March 10, 2020 at 3:36 p.m.

    The problem is not the parent's being concerned about results. The problem is coaches concerned about results and more concerned with building successful teams by recruitment instead of developing great players. 

  22. frank schoon replied, March 10, 2020 at 4:21 p.m.

    Bob , well said, but youth coaches often get fired by the parents due to poor results. Here coaches who win a lot of games in the youth leagues are great recruiters not developers and are therefore known as great coaches. You never hear parents talk about their coach as a great developer of player instead they measure for success as winning.....

    This is another reason why Cruyff did not like to have licensed coaches train the youth for they are more success oriented who want to move up in the ranks.

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