Against a more skilled and very much more attack-minded team than the Canadians proved to be on Thursday during the USA's 1-0 win, the USA on Sunday against Brazil delivered a far more pleasing performance. The Americans relished the extra space created in the midfield by Brazil's forays and counterattacking suited their strengths. Well-taken shots by Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe produced a 2-0 win. The USA finally faced a team that tested the defense -- for the first time since its 3-1 win over Japan in March 2020 -- and the backline reminded us how difficult it is to beat the USA, regardless of the offense's form.
USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)
In each half, Alyssa Naeher made a somewhat difficult save. She also snagged a corner kick amid a crowded goal area.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 67/0 (32)
It was frustrating to watch when left back Crystal Dunn, after Lindsey Horan's long run downfield for a lightening counterattack, ended it with an inaccurate pass beyond Lynn Williams. In 66th minute, Dunn trickled a cross to keeper Barbara. If Dunn added more polish to the ease with which she enters the attack, opponents would have major problems. Defensivey, Dunn lapsed only once in an one-on-one, but the central defensive duo of Becky Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper as usual prevented wing play from posing problems for the USA. They also stifled attacks down the middle. Though less likely to storm forward than Dunn, Emily Sonnett did create attacks with decent passes -- she was part of the setup sequence on the second goal when she tapped the ball to Horan on the wing -- and the couple times she misplayed didn't create severe problems.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Emily Sonnett (Washington Spirit) 50/0 (30)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns) 181/0 (35)
Abby Dahlkemper (Manchester City/ENG) 65/0 (27)
Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns) 109//24 (28)
Julie Ertz, while taking a hit in midfield that sent her to the grass, delivered a pinpoint pass to Lindsey Horan on the wing, from where Horan's one-touch set Christen Press up for the 1-0 lead. Ertz, although her early shot was badly mis-hit, and Horan, who squandered her own chance with a poor second-half header, did a fair share of defensive work while also being key parts of the attack. Horan also set up Megan Rapinoe's goal with a cross. After a lively start by Rose Lavelle that included a wide shot shortly after kickoff, she got robbed on her attempts to dribble past Brazilians and shot badly in the 70th minute.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Rose Lavelle (Manchester City/ENG) 50/14 (25)
Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars) 107/20 (28)
Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns) 90/19 (26)
Christen Press smoothly cut away from Bruna Benites before stroking her shot into the side-netting inside of the far post to give the USA its 11th-minute lead. Lynn Williams shot non-leathally to keeper Barbara in the second minute after a pass from Press on the first U.S. chance of the game. While her wing play did trouble the Brazilians -- she wisely choose to feed a low ball into the middle for Press' 39-minute shot -- Williams horribly mis-kicked the ball to Barbara in the 43rd minute with other options available amid no pressure. Williams' finishing remains a concern after her poor shooting against Canada. Alex Morgan sent Williams through on a promising run that ended with Williams blasting the ball into a defender's legs. Brazilian fouls stifled Morgan in the first half, and besides the pass to Williams, which came out of the midfield, Morgan did not provide the spearhead threat needed from a center forward.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Lynn Williams (NC Courage) 33/9 (27)
Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) 172/107 (31)
Christen Press (Manchester United/ENG) 141/59 (32)
Carli Lloyd fell far short of providing a threat to the Brazilian defense as a subbed-on center forward is expected to. How Megan Rapinoe evaded her marker Jucinara and struck a ball that flew in from about 25 yards away to volley home the USA's second goal demonstrated the kind of aptitude that keeps the 35-year-old in the Olympic picture. Sophia Smith beat one Brazilian in the penalty area but didn't have the right touch to dodge the second when presented with a 88th-minute chance.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC) 297/123 (38)
Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign) 172/55 (35)
Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns) 2/0 (20)
Kristie Mewis (Houston Dash) 19/3 (29)
NOTABLE: In Christen Press' last 28 appearances for the USA, she has been part of 27 goals: scoring 12 and assisting on 15.
Feb. 21 in Orlando, Florida
USA 2 Brazil 0. Goals: Press 11, Rapinoe 88.
USA -- Naeher; Sonnett, Sauerbrunn, Dahlkemper, Dunn; Lavelle (K.Mewis, 83), Ertz, Horan; Williams (Smith, 65), Morgan (Lloyd, 71), Press (Rapinoe, 74).
Brazil -- Barbara; Rafaelle, Tamires, Bruna Benites, Kathellen (Jucinara Soares, 72); Beatriz (Julia, 56), Marta, Andressinha; Andressa (Cristiane, 72), Ludmila (Gio, 72), Debinha.
Yellow cards: USA -- Horan 52; Brazil -- Bruna Benites 33, Tamires 58, Ludmila 80. Red cards: none.
Referee: Melissa Borjas (Honduras)
Att.: 4,000 (limited capacity)
Shots on target: 5/2
Corner Kicks: 2/1
The game wasn't boring, to say the least. The best team didn't win as far as I'm concerned. I do think that Horan without a doubt is the best player, and sticks head and shoulders above everyone else on the American team. No, she is not fastest; No she doesn't have the best cross,( None on the USWNT can cross the ball decently); No, she doesn't have the hardest shot or can head the ball the best. So what makes her the best player. She is a 'footballer', the type we don't have even on the MNT.
Notice how Horan, dribbles , she attempts to shield the ball; SHE DOES EVERYTHING WITH A PURPOSE IN MIND, THERE IS AN IDEA BEHIND EVERY ACTION SHE TAKES. that's the best way I can explain it. She knows exactly the follow up of what to do next. And more importantly, she places herself in a manner in a situation whereby she's able to use her technique as FUNCTIONALLY as possible. For example, in the second half, going forwards in her own half towards a loose ball in which a Brazilian likewise went for. The Brazilian slid to the ball and Horan just chipped over Brazilian and bypassed her without any Turbo in her action, she maintained the same speed as if nothing happened.
She is constantly, pointing and telling where the ball should go or be passed. She is dominant in her manner of play without trying to be dominant. She makes nice smart passes, lead passes at times. She is very good in the combination, and would fit in nicely playing with the Brazilian team, as link person, very smoothly. She is a joy to watch as compared to rest of the US team. Although I like her when I first saw her, she has improved the most of any player on the team. The only I think she needs to work on longer range passes, for she like the rest of the ball like they just got out of hip transplant surgery. And also she need to able to give bending crosses with the left leg.
Horan at this time is the best player because mainly her ball control. Aisde of her skill she shows soccer wisdom when she faces the opponents ,but still she needs to improve her speed and, do not fear to shoot long distance to the goal, because of her strength to strike the spheric If she shows little more improvement she will be the #1 player in the world
Frank, IMO that was the best post that you have written on this forum. Best in terms of communicating your ideas. I believe it is because you explained what the player did right, rather than list what she did wrong. The style was very effective.
E , I think she is already the best player in the world, relatively for I have yet to see another women player play with such confidence and poise like her. Yes, she needs to improve on certain aspects of her game but not speed. She is not cut out to be a speedy player and you don't need to for it is all about positioning, thinking ahead of time and knowing the technique necessary to carry out. Speed is measured in thinking ahead, and ball handling, and shielding the ball upon receiving or moving with it....She is doing just fine in that department.
German great Helmut Haller and Dutch great van Hanegem were once told to work on speed, but what happened is that they played worse. Because your messing with the overal dynamics of the whole player. There are many components that create the makeup of the player over the years and therefore and therefore you have really be careful when you play around with one component without realizing what other effects it can cause...
Bob, you need to understand the wrongs and rights. If you don't understand the wrongs how you can you tell what is right. I learned more from knowing what is wrong first then you improve upon it.
Agree, Frank. I wasn't commenting on your analysis. I was commenting on the effectiveness of your writing at communicating your ideas.
Bob, Thanks,I always thought you , Ships, Santiago and R2, Seth and some others are damn good at it. I always admire you guys for that and therefore I always reread the posts in how you guys express yourselves......
Dunn and lavelle, in my opinion, eached deserved another point. Press is a adept scorer, but makes frequent errors and her defense is lacking. Williams had a tough game, but so much energy and so fast, but Morgan deserved a point more than Williams who had several scoring opportunities. Horan and Sauerbrunn were key to the victory as well as Dunn. (just how I saw it)
Ertz is too slow. Under pressure she really shows why a former center back shouldn't be playing CM position. The only reason she gets away with her slowness is that we are better than the competition. What I mean by 'slowness' is her thinking and her technique applied to her thinking. She takes way TOO MANY touches on the ball before moving the ball to the next station, she not efficient in her movement and is very predictable. Slowness, in this case has nothing to do with running speed, but thinking speed, and efficiency of ball handling that is needed at that moment.
Her weakness really shows when placed in a small space and under pressure. As a matter all of our girls are not good under pressure, and that is because American players are not good in small spaces.
Notice with Ertz, her game is so simple, not in the positive sense. Everyball has to FIRST come to her feet, then she'll take 2-3 motions before doing something with the ball. She will never receive the ball allowing it to ricochete in the direction of where she wants to go next because she doesn't think a step ahead. Also her execution of a long pass a perfect example of wrong body mechanics.
That is not her fault, as a matter of fact all our girls are so bad in the body mechanics of passing,especially air ball passes. I put the blame squarely on the American coaches who contributed to these players' development over the years. This is one of the major problems, our coaches in general are weak when it comes to teaching the technical side of the game.
Lavell is a perfect example who looks good when she has space to run into for she's TURBO. Everything with her ends in acceleration upon receiving the ball. Thereby, she becomes very predictable in her actions. Williams lacks 1v1 creativity in the opponents third. When I think of Williams, I think of Turbo, Crosses or shooting, but that's all she's got. Again the reason our weaknesses of our don't show up so blatantly is because, we have the horses and we dominate the competition and we can score.
Brazil is the better 'soccer playing' team, but they can't finish ,they don't have strikers. We should have lost this game easily 2-4, but only due Brazil inefficiency in the opponents third. I enjoy how the Brazilian players as individuals have no problem 1v1, playing and passing the ball in groups even under pressure. Brazil can build up from the back under pressure, WE CAN'T. Note also the Brazilian don't have the stiffness in their passing.
About Ertz, when she plays for the new coach she is restricted in her movements while we are in possession. In other words she plays like a traditional DM.
Before she was free to move more agressively and would make timely runs forward into the box. My suspicion is that her prior agressiveness is her nature, but the traditional DM restrictions are not her style, and the result is that she isn't comfortable in her decision making or her movements.
I do agree that her passing technique and control are poor. Lots of power but not accuracy. Inside the box that is alot less a concern than trying to distribute to a forward from a deep position. I always thought that her value was the way the US team played with her in that pivot position (i.e. better). Perhaps it was because she didn't play like a traditional DM. She was more like a pivot and initiated the team's attack while adding additional pressure on the opponents back line. Horan is actually the best pivot on the team.
Bob, you know, I think Ertz would do well with her CM experience to now play centerback again for with that midfield experience this improve our Build Up experience from the back. Players who played midfield or up front who are put back playing on defense will add to the defensive mix in a positive way....at Ajax when Cruyff played the centerback was a former center forward, Hulshoff. The right and leftback were former Ajax wingers, Krol, and Suurbier. Beckenbauer was a former wing, as well Puyol of Barcelona, Danni Alves, Alba and so many ,many more.
Ertz is just slow in what she does , it has nothing to do with her role being diminished. You can have diminished role and play an up tempo type of soccer. At Ajax we have midfielders , good ball handlers but only one or two can play the #6 CM position. It takes special qualities to play that position and one of them is to be able to operate under pressure, small spaces as just one of the requisites...
I agree Frank. I said pretty much the same thing (converting CMs to CBs) in another thread.
What puzzles me is the Brazilians hired a Swede to come coach their women's team. This ,to me, is embarrassing. To me, it says that Brazil does not put that much weight to their women's program. As a Brazilian, with the soccer backround and experience, known world-wide for skills ,excitement ,beauty and game thinking to hire a Swede, is a total joke. This whole thing clashes ,the style the Brazilians are brought up with in soccer versus the BORING Swedish style of soccer. Sweden doesn't produce exciting soccer nor players. No surprise, they played a 4-4-2, they learned their game from the English for all along over the years English style of soccer has always been a great influence. Furthermore ,the Swedes are very conservative and think in 'group like', and this is why they don't create great individual stars, it doesn't fit their culture.
I know some will disagree and say , look at Zlatan, he was a great individual. If you think Zlatan influence is Swedish, it is not . Read his Book. He learned his game on the streets with all the other immigrants who had basic zero contact with Swedish soccer or for that matter with Swedish culture or people in general. As a matter of fact he didn't even who the Swedish stars were. His basically studied Ronaldo of Brazil on Youtube and work on Ronaldo moves.
The Brazilians should spend more time and effort using their own great coaches and players from their culture and show the world what they can do with women's soccer, for as far as I'm concerned we're going nowhere as far as playing a better brand soccer and just remainingg at the athletic and Turbo stage. Players like Horan did well to go to France for she improved her game by leaps and bounds but could have even been much better if we had some decent coaches here that could actually demonstrate the proper skills that are so missing in our players.
I saw one sideline shot which answered the question for me--coaching education. There is about twice as many coaching assistants following her around as is usual, and they all appear to be Brazilian. My guess is that they hired Pia because she has inside knowledge of the US team and lead Sweeden to an impressive success against the USA in 2016. They want her to repeat that success with Brazil and at the same time have a half dozen Brazilian coaches learn how she does it.
Bob, good point about her hiring for she knows all about our best competitor, the USA..if that was the reason for otherwise I have no idea what it else could be...
The best moment of the game that I saw (I watched a tape of maybe half the game) was our first goal. Ertz spot-on bending pass to Horan who had taken up an excellent position (was with Ertz left foot no less), that not only got the ball around but also froze an opponent, that arrived to Horan who flawlessly first-timed it to Press who took on her defender 1v1 and shot a perfect far corner shot using a minimum of touches. Very impressive. I like Frank's read on Horan and how less speediness allows for more thoughtfulness. Horan has a high soccer IQ. I'd like to see us use less athleticism and more fluid technique and tactics, but we'll certainly help our cause by using overwhelming force. The ref allowed our aggressiveness to effect the game negatively. I saw two yellow-card worthy fouls by US players, one where a US player grabbed an advancing Brazilian player around the waist and spun her, and Morgan's dangerous sliding tackle that didn't touch the ball around mid-field against another advancing player. Professional fouls for sure that deserved professional yellow cards. Without yellow cards in these incidents, it just allowed the US athleticism to effect the game even more. A couple of observations with questions: it seemed as if both teams had trouble commanding the center of the pitch when bringing the ball out of the back. It seemed easy for the other team to effectively shrink the field to either the left or right side of the pitch by having someone stand in the middle of the pitch and deny balls into the middle. Also, especially at the onset, it appeared as if both teams were choosing to hit long balls over the midfield to the a player near the sideline. Was it that both teams chose to pack the center of the pitch and force these longer passes? Is it the case where teams need a Claudio Reyna or Valdaramma in the middle who can receive and move even under extreme pressure? Or are the teams just playing it safe in order to win?
Agree with everyone's take on yesterday's match. Horan playing for most part wide left? I am not sure that this allows her 'to impose her will' with her ball winning and distribution. Ertz works so hard which is commendable and required - I would like to see her have more attacking presence. Her pace can sometimes be an issue but her ball-winning compensates well. With a counter-attacking side like Brazil, the U.S. backline, other than Dunn, looked a bit overmatched from a pace standpoint. Dunn was excellent and her tactical awareness bailed out the other three numerous times. Our right FB: O'Hara is my first choice but what does the U.S. do when she is not available? My take is to take Lynn Williams, a great athlete and hard worker, and slowly transition her to the FB spot. I really like her for many reasons - but is she really the answer as a wide striker? Similar to Dunn, I would like her coming forward from the back as she can put the opposition in very tough matchup situations. With all that said, the player pool looks great and it will be difficult to select only 18 for the Olympics.
You need to give Lynn Williams points for her nonstop pressure. Maybe give her two points under defense.
Why is LLoyd and Rapino even on the field?? They had their glory days.They need to retire and give the younger generation the opportunity. First half was a nice pace in play, as soon as LL. and R. came on, the game slowed and became a HOHUM.
Guys, We should try to place Lavelle,on the wing, lets say left wing and Horan behind her as left halfback. Lavelle is difficult to guard one on one, she is very unpredictable, 1v1 and lots of space for her Turbo as well. Any back would have a tough time guarding her, which means that back would have to have support, a centerback or a halfback to drop back in order to help out. In other words , note the shift in the opponents defense as far attention and space occurring because of Lavelle's/ Horan's threat.
Next, as Horan moves up in the hierarchy of being one of the best players on the field, playing behind Lavelle, would further create problems for the opponents for Horan will draw more attention by the opponents defense, which at the same can open up more space for Lavelle. In the Brazilian game, I noticed, Horan would often face two opponents.
With that in mind you can see how are opposite side ,the weak side will much more possibilities and space to move into while all the attention is on the other side. This ,in a sense, will give our less creative players, like a Williams or whomever plays there more offensive threats by not even having the ball and able to use their strengths better...
Our left side would be our more creative side and our right side 'straight' side...
This is one way of reducing our overal Turbo style of play and add more 'footballing sense' to our game....
Of all the WNT play I have seen, I like the 1 back-2 up midfield the best. It uses two "10s" which function as inside forwards attacking the gaps. Like in the days of man to man defenses, the 10s stay out of the gaps until they want the ball to avoid picking up a marker.
Frank your comment reminded me of this. Sometimes Horan would be on the left with Lavelle on the right. I don't know if it were the coaches intent, but IMO this sets up the left as the creative side and the right as the more direct side. The problem with placing Horan is that she is so good, it becomes a question over what placement makes for the strongest team.
My current thinking is Horan as pivot and pushing Ertz to CB. As we have Sam Mewis who can also play the 10. Marcario is still too new for me to say how she can best be used to make the strongest team (forward or inside forward is really 5 spots). But there is no question in my mind that assuming availability, Marcario should get the nod over Williams on an 18-player roster.
Against Brazil, the coach had Williams marking Marta, which is an excellent defensive strategy, but stinks as an attacking strategy.
I have nothing but respect for Williams but her attacking skills and decision making are limited.
As to your thought that Lavelle could play left winger, I had thought the same thing in the past. The additional point I would make is that Press is quite good at inside forward, and can play right side too.
I think Rapinoe's dead ball skills are keeping her in the mix. I also think this is a coaching failure because a coach ought to be developing alternatives for restarts so that you don't face a situation where someone is on the field because of their dead ball ability. Not to mention that a coach should be developing everyone's penalty taking ability.
What I'm trying to do is to create a way of playing that will reduce the Turbo of soccer we play. What I suggest is to put some brakes on this Turbo by beginning to give our team some structure to follow, for example, left side creative , right side straight. Left side, right side is not necessarily written in stone. For example,suppose the opponents have a super strong right side with much defense, smart talent ,then you need change your creative side...With Ajax it was always the left side that was creative for you, Keizer, Cruyff, Muhren, and Krol....at that time the world's best side.
I happen to pick Lavelle on the left wing but it could be someone else but it has to be a player that is super good 1v1 and behind the left wing someone who doesn't lose the ball, like a Horan to keep things stable, no ball loss which would prevent the left wing having to run back on defense like Rapinho so often does and thereby losing energy....
I prefer for Horan to be able to roam instead of being stuck at CM like Ertz. Like at Ajax the midfielders tend to switch positions or fill the empty space at mid. So you put Horan on the left mid, but she does move around even to the right side, as you saw against Brazil...
We have no #6 when it comes to play it properly and with ability which takes a while to learn. For example the #6 Klaasen was traded to Everton then to Bremen in a span of 3 seasons, well, during that time Ajax didn''t have real "#6" that could fill that role. But this year Klaasen came to Ajax. So even with all the good players at Ajax they could not get a real "#6" with the qualities, even when they had Frenkie de Jong who is now at Barcelona.
We are too prone in throwing around the numbers like 6's and 10's as is they are robots and not take into account what it all requires....
I understand your view. I have not yet met a US coach that uses a pivot instead of a "6". (I have not actually met you, Frank.) For the most part, I think US players are trained to follow instructions, rather than think for themselves. From my own experience with 433, the individuals assigned to the 3 midfield positions sort themselves out by their playing "personality". So many times I have seen how subbing just one of the 3 results in an adjustment of roles.
As a player I would adjust my play to who else was in, knowing the few who were comfortable playing on the left, who liked the playmaker role, who liked to play ahead of the ball and who liked to play behind the ball. So I was paying attention before I became a coach.
It always amazed me how much one substitution could change how a group played.