England snapped the USA's 21-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win before 76,983 fans at Wembley Stadium.
The friendly started with a frenetic pace in England’s grandest cathedral of grass, and the first half produced all three goals. VAR featured twice in the first half, awarding a penalty to England for a high kick by Hailie Mace and five minutes later ruling out a terrific U.S. team goal on a tight offside decision.
England dominated the USA for most of the match, limiting it two shots on target, the fewest in Coach Vlatko Andonovski’s tenure. The Americans were missing much of their attacking teeth — Alex Morgan out due to a knee injury, Mallory Pugh unavailable because of family reasons and Catarina Macario still sidelined with a torn ACL suffered in June.
The match ended an emotional week that began with the release of the Yates Report. In a sign of solidarity with victims of sexual abuse in women’s soccer, players from both teams unveiled a banner that read "Protect the Players" and wore teal armbands.
USA Player Ratings
(1=low; 5=middle; 10=high.)
Alyssa Naeher made expected saves, was caught hapless when Beth Mead’s low cross beat her entire backline and was sent the wrong way on a penalty. She held onto the crosses she went for but was not tested very often. She lost the ball in possession with several errant long passes.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars) 85/- (34)
After Emily Fox left with an injury in the 22nd minute, a young U.S. backline with Alana Cook and Naomi Girma in the middle battled valiantly and successfully pressed England into its own half for much of the first half. Cook fumbled Mead’s cross and was at fault for England’s opening goal that dictated the rest of the match. In the second half, the backline conceded more of the ball and space to a strong passing team. Sofia Huerta’s exit pass to Sophia Smith triggered the play that ended in the USA’s second goal, which was called back by VAR for offside.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Sofia Huerta (OL Reign) 22/0 (29)
Alana Cook (OL Reign) 17/0 (25)
Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave) 8/0 (22)
Emily Fox (Racing Louisville) 20/0 (24)
For the first time in a long time, the U.S. midfield looked inferior to its opposition. The high press worked sometimes. Lindsey Horan stepped impressively and poked the ball free to Smith for the USA’s only goal of the match. But more often than not, Keira Walsh and partner Georgia Stanway wriggled free and strode across the halfway line. Andi Sullivan was left isolated by Rose Lavelle and Horan in transition moments and was forced to cover too much ground. Lavelle’s dribbles sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. She offered some creativity but lost possession too often to Walsh and Stanway.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit) 34/3 (26)
Lindsey Horan (Lyon, FRA) 119/26 (28)
Rose Lavelle (OL Reign) 81/22 (27)
Sophia Smith was the USA’s most dangerous player and her runs created space for the rest of the team to move into, especially in the second half. She had an excellent strike to equalize. Megan Rapinoe’s lack of pace made her ineffective against an athletic England team. Trinity Rodman looked to have equalized, but her goal was controversially ruled out by VAR.
Player (Club) caps/goals (age)
Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit) 8/2 (20)
Sophia Smith (Portland Thorns) 24/11 (22)
Megan Rapinoe (OL Reign) 195/62 (37)
SUBSTITUTESHailie Mace, Fox’s replacement in the 22nd minute, was unlucky to be called for a penalty for a high kick that she retracted quickly from Lucy Bronze’s face. In just her second appearance for the national team, Sam Coffey looked assured on the ball but could not make a serious impact. Crystal Dunn — returning to the fold for the first time since giving birth to her son Marcel in May — won a free kick late on but, like the rest of the U.S. subs, did not contribute offensively a great deal.
Hailie Mace (KC Current) 6/0 (25)
Sam Coffey (Portland Thorns) 2/0 (23)
Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns) 124/24 (30)
Becky Sauerbrunn (Portland Thorns) 209/0 (37)
Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit) 15/3 (23)
Alyssa Thompson (Total Futbol Academy) 1/0 (17)
TRIVIA: The crowd of 76,893 at Wembley Stadium was the fourth largest to watch the USA in its 38-year history.
NOTABLE: The USA's loss snapped its 13-game winning streak and 21-game unbeaten streak. It was the first defeat since the 1-0 loss to Canada in the Olympic semifinals 14 months ago.
Oct. 7 in London
England 2 USA 1. Goals: Hemp 10, Stanway 33 pen.; Smith 28.
England -- Earps; Bronze, Bright, Greenwood, Daly; Walsh, Stanway, Kirby (Toone 67); Kelly (James 90+1), Hemp, Mead.
USA -- Naeher; Huerta (Dunn 63), Cook, Girma (Sauerbrunn 83), Fox (Mace 22); Sullivan (Coffey 63), Horan, Lavelle; Rodman (Sanchez 83), Smith, Rapinoe (Thompson 84).
Yellow cards: England -- Bright 45; USA -- Mace 32, Rodman 48. Red cards: none.
Referee: Riem Hussein (Germany).
Question for the coaches: Do you sub Cook for the error (what I would have suggested), or sub Girma instead (what Vlatko did) so Cook can work through the match and not lose more confidence? Is the Nats program here to build player confidence? Does it actually work that way? GG gives playing time to players not in form, supposedly to build confidence. Is that a real thing?
The question is do you want your players to think that if they make a mistake they'll be benched? I think it's generally good coaching to allow players to make mistakes. If a player displays a lack of effort, or unwillingness to play in support of the team's plans, or maybe they're just having a bad day (a series of poor decisions/technical mistakes) then bench them. If they're otherwise having a good game but make a mistake, you only bench them if that mistake is affecting their game. Confidence is important in all sports, and soccer is no exception. It has to be managed, so teams don't get over-confident (benching may have more of a role in that case), but losing confidence is harder to get back, so it's best not to lose it in the first place.
I have always believed Cook was overrated due to relatively poor athletic and ball skills for a starter at this level. Why do I mention starter? Because starters have to deal with the opponent's rush to score the first goal. But some coaches want tall CBs more than they want skilled players.
The US attack lacks flexibility. Not just this game but under Vlatko generally. It makes us predictable and weak.
A player that believes they will be benched should they make a mistake will take no chances. I am not convinced that the referee made the correct call. If a coach can succeed in creating an atmosphere that rewarded new and clever play, think of how the team and the sport would grow. If all are afraid of a chance, the team list a 0-0 tie as their most hoped for outcome. Fortunately, we get the opposite. Football requires creativity, skill and intelligence. If only frightened people played, boring, safe, risk-adverse soccer, games would be dull, low scoring affairs, with no one watching.
Long balls to nowhere. Balls to heavily-marked team mates that are easily intercepted. Long crosses that mostly fail to reach the intended team mate. We lose too many possessions! Do the coaches not see that and make the necessary changes?
US made a lot of errors with passing and poor clearances. England looked cleaner, faster and more confident on the ball, and that shows in the time of possession. However, if you look at the two US goals, both in the run of play, both excellent and decisive shots, the game could have easily ended 2-1 in favor of the US. Admitting my bias for the US, the two VAR calls were "extreme". Simply put, they were too close to call. Hard to see objectivity in either call. Especially given the significant impact of each on the game. Now this was a friendly and the results do little more than help validate the hype around a surging English side, and highlight the US women's vulnerabilities and areas for improvement ahead of a fast approaching World Cup.
Rapinoe has two things going for her......she's old and slow....time to go! Coach, MOVE ON!!!
WHY is Rapino even on the field???? She added absolutely nothing to the game, if you needed a left winger since Pugh was unavailable, why did you not call in C. Press??
Being 37 years old doesn't prevent a player from being effective. You beat the opponents with your brain maximizing your strengths and negating their weaknesses. Besides requiring a brain, it also requires good players for team mates and anticipation of where the play is going next. It also requires a good game plan, a/k/a a good coach.
The "secret" of successful soccer is just being at the right place at the right time, not too soon or too late. One step ahead of your marker is as good as 20 yards of separation.
If your team mates are poor and the coaching is poor, then even a 22 year-old Messi would be frustrated.
Let's get these 37 year old players off the field. Appreciate your service but it's time for the next generation.
Absent injuries declining performance is not really the issue with aging athletes. It is the longer recovery times after a competition. It literally can get to the point where the older athlete only has recovery days scheduled between competitions.
It's not about the score,but how we and the English play...The English played 'football'. It was enjoyable to watch the English and they have grown and evolved in their soccer. We don't evolve, it is the same old' ,same old, style depending on our athleticism and talent. We have not progressed one iota when you compare the way Spain, England, has evolved for example....
The English looked condfident on the ball, able to maneuver under pressure, they have moved beyond us in soccer....Now that is not to say we can't beat the English but that is not the issue but the evolution of their game, for that will have long term effects upon women soccer in England.
We have been coasting on our laurels the past 25 years. The problem with women soccer, not to mention the men, is the lack of good coaching, we're doing it wrong. Just look at women college soccer, which is a complete joke, technically and tactically..You watch one game, you've seen them all, and the coaches are no better ,for they all coach and follow the same programmed garbage, training methods and thinking....It is that the more successful ones have better players as their answer and not good coaching.
Likewise, it looks like all the coaches go to the same seminar, same pub, same coaching conventions, follow the pat programmed garbage, and worse they seem to all live in the same soccer 'bubble' and all are afraid to do initiate a different style, for example, employing a sweeper/libero, or employ centerbacks who actually can take a ball up on attack or actually employ a right winger who has a right foot....Soccer has become so predictable and boring because of the laptop coaches, or rather 'programmed idiots' , who really contribute to more fresh breeze that this game needs...
Horan played terrible, it was the worse I've seen her play. The problem is that the coach did not use her 'strengths'. She is not a runner a Turbo player, she plays in one tempo, doesn't accelerate, she's strong on the ball, she's able to draw opponents to her thereby opening space for her attacking teammates. She received ,just about every ball, with her back facing downfield. That means her forward field vision was eliminated, which resulted in eliminating any quickness and speed our front line has at that moment, which is our life blood. She ended up on her butt at times...
She sometimes receives with her back facing downfield directly from the backline, positioned in her own half which is wasting her talent. Let some other midfielder receive the ball with their back facing downfield, while positioning on an angle that would favor getting the ball to your link person, Horan, in a direct way manner ,that as Horan receives it, she faces downfield.
The US with their socalled 'high pressure' gave away plenty of space to operate, never coming close to an English player to contest them, it looked like as if they had an extra player in the backfield. The problem is that we employed 5 players to 'high pressure' giving the English midfield control. They were allowed to pass the ball while carrying having an ice cream cone in one hand.... If you're going to pressure the opponent with 5 players, half the squad, you better jump on their necks ,not allowing the ball to go open spaces at midfield around....It was like, 'beat me , whip me, write me bad checks' out there...we allowed them so much space to punish ourselves.
The other thing that I noticed is that during the game, the women players at times grabbed the other players jerseys...As a coach, I've never , ever, I mean ever, told my players to grab an opponent with the their hands...If I saw that I would tell them to not do it... I'm from the old school, you beat the player with brains and skill, and keep your paws to yourselves...This is part of 'respect' for the game that is also shown on the patches. I think coaches should set an example, instead worrying about winning the game....This should begin with youth and college coaches to set the example....
Frank it isn't just being old fashioned, shirt pulling just slows the defender down. At least a step.
We scored our first goal while the English attempted a buildup from the back. The commentator with red hair( forgot his name) invited the English to continue doing so ,and he was right.
It DRIVES ME NUTS, to see the goalie with the ball a few meters in front of the goal with both centerbacks standing a few meters on either side of him, attempt to build up from the back...
This is so STUPID!!!! but you see this everywhere, even our side did it.
We have 3players standing in a horizontal line, very close to each other while also inviting the opponents to come all the way to the penalty area to wait for our execution of the build up. Can anyone explain, to me, the efficacy of this stupid set up. What can the goalie not accomplish, that his two centerbacks can do. Is it a 10-20 meter pass to the flank or forward, or a long ball up field.
What is it that the goalie can't do. Is it that he has an outlet pass to either side of him which is about 4-5 meters, REALLY???? The pass to either CB is totally useless for it doesn't beat an opponent, and the opponent doesn't have to commit or move...
The square pass to either CB means he can't move forwards but has to wait for the ball, which also reduces his view to the flank. So what happens, the #6 comes back to penalty box for the ball with his back facing the downfield and is unable to know if the opponent is behind him. The goalie can see the situation 'loud and clear' and still passes to him, which often happens, #6 loses the ball and a goal is scored.
But positioning 2CBs next to the goalie is a TOTAL WASTE OF MANPOWER going forwards. Why not move the two centerbacks up outside the penalty box thus allowing more passing options forward which means the opponents are unable to pick up.
I question this dumb strategy. You DON'T ALLOW your opponent time to set up against your attempt of building up from the back...It has to be done fast. Cruyff at Barcelona, would have his goalie as soon as he receives the ball from an opponent's attack throw out the ball to the back who is wide open since his opponent committed in the attack. This way the back runs upfield with the ball and creates numerical superiority...Building up from the back has to be done and quickly but not in a way whereby you allow the opponents first to set up and wait for the build up to begin...
If I ran a soccer association, my first command to these coaches is to not let me ever see you attempt this stupid play...What is so scary, is that this happens continually in so many games...it's unbelievable...
A fun game to watch--which is what the center ref must have decided to do rather than do her job. However, that is plenty of stress for any center- a huge crowd, a game with high expectations and the omnipresent VAR looking over her shoulder. She obviously "let them play" missing what I thought were several fouls--it is not play on when a fouled player is dispossessed by the foul and the fouling team gains possession--like Smith was with her back to the goal just outside the center of the area....
And since when is a "high foot" considered a penal foul? That was a TERRIBLE VAR call! It is a "dangerous play" and the offense awards the offended team an INDIRECT kick....Where am I wrong on this one? Even Machnik said on TV he saw no reason for a PK on that play.....
And what advantage did Smith gain (and she wasn't seeking to gain an advantage either--older language) with her foot possibly offside at midfield on the USA's second goal? She was facing her own goal and right beside a defender who knew exactly where she was and was unable to stop the play. The AR was right in line with the play also and kept her flag down. A ridiculous intrusion on the grand old game by VAR--again!
All that being said, I was proud of our team for playing above many expectations with so many new faces and all the stress of the WPSL issues revealed this past week. I had to Google several names to even know who some USA starters were. I hope we get a rematch when we're healthy at the WC.
Kudos to Sophia Smith-a REAL player up top and Naeher needs desperately to work on her footwork with the ball.
Agreed about Sophie Smith. Her play really caught my eye. Great shielding, speed, smooth and balanced. Her graceful movement is a joy to watch. What a future!
The referee was garbage. When you put your face to waist level to try to head a ball, you put yourself in danger. Horrible call. And the offsides wasn't called by the linesman, so why are you calling for VAR? Corruption.
Difference is Coaching,
The woman's team suffers the from the same lack of quality coaching. You look at the difference in the English team. Since Wiegman has taken over as coach the team has just grown immensely. On the ball, off the ball, passing and overall tactical game plans show how to put your talent to use in a game. If you watched them play in the Euros they did not play the same way each game, but try to exploit opponents weaknesses. They did this to the US as well. Let them play long balls from the back and dominated the mid-field.
Andovnoski is just sorely overmatched just as GB is on the men's side. He never adjusted in game play to the weakness on the left side. Rapinoe was too slow to press and this led to the English escaping and attacking down our left wing repeatedly. I get the injuries, but if you plan to press you need the players on the pitch that can execute physically.
Players that should have been on the pitch for this match. Horan at the #6 and Sullivan on the bench. It is too bad Fox got injured as Dunn showed she still has it despite being out for so long. Sanchez should have started alongside Lavelle. Since you don't have Pugh your best bet was to play Dunn and left winger. Could press better and do more in the attack from the wing. Heck you could have let the 17 year old Thompson start, would have been a great experience for later down the road. I don't know why the USWNT continue to play Dunn at left back. Waste of attacking talent.
The woman's side has enough time to make a coaching change before it is too late before the next world cup. Will likely not happen.
The fouling on Sophia Smith was out of hand and not called at all. She was continuously being pulled and grabbed.
Agree that Rapinoe is not a starter .... too slow and error prone. She does better as a sub that pumps up the team and brings in a fresh play style. They need to train other players to take corner kicks and free kicks.
I was surprised by the low player score that SA gave Girma. I thought her defending was on point. Crystal Dunn seemed out of shape ... she slipped and gave up the ball a few times. I am excited to see Carson Pickett come in for the Spain game.
Horan turns over the ball way too much. How many times does she run straight into a group of defenders and just loses the ball? On the bright side Lavelle did great. I wish she had taken a few more of those shots from the edge of the box that she is famous for. At least test the keeper a little and you never know it may create some chaos is in the box.
Trinity's skills were a little wasted on the wing. She does best when paired with a RSB or LSB that run cheeky overlapping plays down the side that use her speed.