Commentary

New Zealand-USA Women's Friendly Player Ratings

NEW ZEALAND-USA EXPRESS:
Jan 21 in Auckland/Tmaki Makaurau
New Zealand 0 USA 5. Goals: Hatch 22, Lavelle 39, 74, Swanson 53, Kornieck 80.
Att.: 12,721.

* * * * * * * * * *

In its second match of a series against New Zealand meant to prepare it for the environs of this summer’s World Cup, the USWNT cruised to a 5-0 win.

Compared to the awful first half on Wednesday, the USA began attacking the Football Ferns with a higher tempo, often building from its left side with Crystal Dunn and Trinity Rodman in the opening half hour. There was little the New Zealanders could do but chase American shadows.

The breakthrough came in the 22nd minute when Ashley Hatch scored her fifth career USA goal on a precisely struck through ball from Trinity Rodman, and the Americans didn’t look back. The USA will be back in Auckland for the World Cup, where it opens against Vietnam on July 22.

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

GOALKEEPER

Casey Murphy caught, collected, kicked, and even parried, once, but was otherwise not challenged. She bobbled a cross in the second half and was lucky to get a foul call.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

5
Casey Murphy (NC Courage) 12/0 (26)

DEFENDERS

The American backline was hardly forced to make difficult decisions in transition or when New Zealand was in possession, which was not often (USA had 71% of the ball over 90+ minutes). Naomi Girma made an error early on that went unpunished, and Alana Cook’s line-breaking passes didn’t always find their targets, but the center backs generally dealt with the minimal danger they faced with composure and surefootedness. Girma left at halftime for Emily Sonnett. Crystal Dunn was involved in the USA’s attack a lot in the first half. Sofia Huerta played more defensively than Dunn and did not make any glaring mistakes — or big plays, either.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

5
Sofia Huerta (OL Reign) 27/0 (30)

6
Alana Cook (OL Reign) 21/0 (25)

5
Naomi Girma (San Diego Wave) 12/0 (22)

6
Crystal Dunn (Portland Thorns) 128/24 (30)

MIDFIELDERS

Defensively, the U.S. midfield was sound and dispossessed a depleted New Zealand side often in their own half. Rose Lavelle struggled early on, but she found her legs after the first half hour and did well to score on a valley for the USA’s second; she doubled her tally in the second half and was the only U.S. midfielder who wasn’t subbed out. Andy Sullivan mopped up balls and started attacks for a U.S. attack that generated 11 total shots (four on target). Ashley Sanchez’s speed was on full display a few times throughout the match, and she kept the ball just fine, but couldn’t offer a satisfying end product.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

6
Andi Sullivan (Washington Spirit) 39/3 (27)

8
Rose Lavelle (OL Reign) 86/24 (27)

6
Ashley Sanchez (Washington Spirit) 19/3 (23)

FORWARDS

Mallory Swanson was a threat whenever she made a darting run through the Kiwis’ backline, but the service to her from Lavelle and Sullivan weren’t good enough to find her in the first half. The USA’s spells of possession didn’t result in solid opportunities for the forwards for the first 15 minutes, but that changed once the midfield eased itself into the match. Ashley Hatch capitalized on a U.S. counter when Trinity Rodman played a perfectly weighted ball into her feet with only the goalkeeper to beat. In the second half, Hatch should’ve scored her second when Rodman drove into the box and played her through on goal. Swanson’s workrate and build-up play efforts paid off when she found herself open on the penalty kick mark in the 52nd minute and lasered it into the corner, effectively putting the game out of reach.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

8
Mallory Swanson (Chicago Red Stars) 84/28 (24)

6
Ashley Hatch (Washington Spirit) 15/5 (27)

6
Trinity Rodman (Washington Spirit) 12/2 (20)

SUBSTITUTES

Taylor Kornieck, the 6-foot-1 midfielder, was left unmarked in the box on the USA’s fourth corner of the night and headed home with ease for her second goal of her U.S. career. Emily Sonnett filled Girma’s center back role without a hitch, ditto Emily Fox for Dunn, often advancing up the left flank to allow Rodman to drift inside.

Player (Club) caps/goals (age)

6
Emily Fox (Racing Louisville) 24/0 (24)

5
Emily Sonnett (OL Reign) 70/1 (29)

NR
Midge Purce (Gotham FC) 22/4 (27)

NR
Kristie Mewis (Gotham FC) 47/7 (31)

6
Taylor Kornieck (San Diego Wave) 9/2 (24)

NR
Lynn Williams (Gotham FC) 49/15 (29)

TRIVIA: The USA leads the overall series with New Zealand, 19-1-1. The lone loss for the Americans came in the first meeting, a 1-0 defeat in 1987.

Jan. 21 in Auckland/Tmaki Makaurau
New Zealand 0 USA 5. Goals: Hatch 22, Lavelle 39, 74, Swanson 53, Kornieck 80.
New Zealand —
Naylor, Anton, Ally Green (Ward 33), Anna Green, A.Riley (69 Barry), Chance, Cleverley (Rolston 69), Collins (O’Brien 82), Jale (Wisnewski 46), Rennie, Satchell (Jackson 46).
USA — Murphy, Cook, Huerta, Girma (Sonnett 46), Dunn (Fox 46), Sullivan (Kornieck 62), Lavelle, Sanchez (K.Mewis 61), Swanson, Hatch (Purce 61), Rodman (Williams 61).
Att.: 12,721.
Yellow cards: New Zealand -- none. USA -- Williams 71. Red Cards: none.
Referee: Lara Lee (Australia). ARs: Sarah Ho (Australia), Lauren Hargrave (Australia).
Att.: 12,721.

Stats:
New Zealand/USA
Shots: 0/22
Shots on target: 0/10
Saves: 5/0
Corner Kicks: 2/6
Fouls: 12/1
Offside: 0/3
Possession: 29%/71%

Photo: Alan Lee/ISI Photos

14 comments about "New Zealand-USA Women's Friendly Player Ratings".
  1. Bob Ashpole, January 21, 2023 at 10:08 a.m.

    The US played well, but an intra-squad scrimmage is probably a better challenge than this matchup. 

    Two comments.

    The USWNT pool is rich in skilled forwards, including Swanson who has become the player we hoped for when she was 18.

    I don't think it is my imagination, but Rodman appears to have grown. She was one of the smallest players on the field and now she is one of the larger players. Learning to play against bigger opponents is an advantage during development.

    Bonus comment. Andy Sullivan is playing really well.

    Last comment, I promise. When I look at Sonnett, I don't see a reserve player. I see a coaching success story for Jill Ellis and her staff. Props for Sonnett and those who saw the promise in her. 

  2. Mylene Moreno, January 21, 2023 at 10:12 a.m.

    How was Huerta's perfect cross to Lavelle for the second goal not a big play? And Girma's line breaking passes were notable. 

  3. frank schoon, January 21, 2023 at 3:13 p.m.

    Having watched the first 30minutes, what I've noticed is the passing is atrocious ,especially from our backline...As I've stated before many times, women soccer has an inherent fault in the way execute passing. They LACK FEELING in their passes. Their long ball passes are either hit too hard , causing the ball to go  too far and inaccurate. Somebody also needs to work with women's hips in medium range passes. Women are so stiff when it comes to hip and leg motions with the ball, and that is why women get injured in soccer that guys don't....

    One of the problems is that women lack pickup playing experience, their touches on the ball throughout their development is so much less as compared to guys and compared to my generation  todays men who have so much less touch on the ball as compared to when I played..
    Women unfortunately are trained , programmed and learn through structured setting. This is why they look so inflexible.

    The problem I see with the backline is that when you close down the real short passing option from our backline, the only three choices is left: One, either a long blast downfielde which usually too hard or inaccurate leading to ball loss or pass back to the goallie or third run with the ball which is very difficult executing at a fast pace a pass or a dribble towards midfield.  They have difficulty passing on the run passes that are not short for they lack good timing sense passing under tempo

    On the left side,whenever our lefthalf or leftback has the ball our wing, either Sanchez or someone else makes a run toward the sideline to get the passed ball. What is more easier to guard then someone running towards the flank who lacks field vision having his back to the field and at the same is no threat...The Golden rule is that winger should receive the ball with his back facing the sideline, giving him fieldview, able with the ball in open space instead running to the ball with no view.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, January 21, 2023 at 4:17 p.m.

    Frank you have of course spotted the flaw in the WNT. (It is also a flaw in the MNT.)

    There are some notable exceptions. Andy Sullivan consistently hit excellent through passes and Rose Lavelle had excellent touches on the receiving end. The backs are a problem. Davidson and Dahlkemper, my first choices for CB, are not available. Dahlkemper in particular is consistently good on the ball. Davidson is relatively new. Kelley O'Hara is also unavailable.

    So 3 of the starting backs were not available. Not really a problem because it gives others chances to start. Dependable Becky Sauerbrunn also was not available. While I consider her foot skills her weakness, she compares well to the CBs you saw. Julie Ertz is a force of nature and a future hall of famer but she is a severly limited passer. It is her weakness as a pivot. My expectation is that CB will be her role if she returns. She has Beckenbauer's heart, but not his skill.

  5. frank schoon replied, January 22, 2023 at 8:55 a.m.

    Bob, your other CB suggestion are OK but what I want to do is the change the format  by the centerback positions. First ask why do we have tall,slow centerbacks who are very similar in make up. Having tall big centerback comes copying the English game who never played with a sweeper, and used tall CB because the English teams often played 4-4-2 with tall strikers....no longer

    The tall CBs are there for the head game for that's what the English are good at...The women are not good in heading and neither are English women.In general we don't have tall women up front to knock the ball in with their heads.

    Next, The passing game from the flanks has changed whereby flank players(wings) cut in and therefore less crossing attacks from the flanks for head ball. And besides have you seen how bad the crosses in the women's and men's game are?

    Many of the passes are vertical or close to vertical, usually hit hard with little accuracy. So why do we need tall defenders, when a lot of attacking passes come from behind the attackers which means they have turn their head, wait and see where the ball going and make a run....Well ,you don't need tall, big defenders but quicker and smarter ones, who can run fast to the ball going backwards and who can go on attack..

    I've been criticizing the current style of play with two tall centerbacks, since for me,  the game has outgrown them for years....Finally the Ajax coach at Manchester United has placed a 5'8" little Argentinian Centerback for the English centerback McQuire who is 6'4'. 
    The soccer pundits, English fans were laughing and joking and couldn't believe this and the first weeks of the season the pundits had a field day but about 2months ago everything turned around and little Martinez is the starting centerback and does so much more for the team. He's now their defensive leader...

  6. Bob Ashpole replied, January 24, 2023 at 12:21 a.m.

    I am convinced that the USSF conventional thinking is killing our play. Particularly their positioning of the fullbacks, which you have discussed before.

    I see constantly on teams following USSF conventional wisdom the right fullback with back to the touchline receiving a pass on the ground across the body to the right foot. The FB doesn't turn and for whatever reason 1 times the ball with the inside of the right foot. Meaning the ball travels back to the centerback. Totally predictable and totally ineffective. 

    The only way that will break down the defense is if the opponents fall asleep from boredom.

  7. Bob Ashpole replied, January 24, 2023 at 12:24 a.m.

    The strangest thing is that conventinal coaches use conventional pattern passing drills to practice this ineffective tactic, passing the ball back and forth across the back.

  8. frank schoon, January 21, 2023 at 3:52 p.m.

    We need a better linkage from the back to build the ball up to mid and beyond....I would like to see Lavelle at center back as a way to bolster our build up better. The centerbacks so often in soccer are basic stiffs. We need a better balance than having two trees who neither are that good with a ball, in dribbling nor passing, nor create attacking tempo. Why do we need two big centerbacks, the women's game doesnt exemplify good heading attacks, as a matter of fact heading has never been a strong point in women....

    I would like a Lavelle type who is quick, who can better than most under pressure, good 1v1, and can see the game decently. She not only can create numerical superiority at midfield but can release decent attacking pass and is able to create give and go's and continue her attacking forays.

    She wastes herself playing # 6, for whenever moves toward the left side of the field around midfield she tends to reduce her passing options, often passing to the back in a one touch manner and doesn't serve any real attacking options . Realize our leftside flank attacker tends to run towards the sideline and therefore Lavelle does aid the attack that much on that side..... Lavelle can up in the centerlane which gives her ton of opions. Realize a Lavelle will open up more space for other players because she draws opponents to her

    The backline needs to be improved, in order to improve our attacking forays, adding more options. With more options, we can open the field up more...

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, January 21, 2023 at 4:24 p.m.

    Your Lavelle suggestion is a classic move, but not something I would expect from USSF (Arena being an exception and maybe Bradley).

    Right now USSF has more skilled forwards than forward positions. So--Duh--USSF should step into the 21st century. 

    How ancient is the idea that coaches should find a way to get their best players on the field?

  10. Bob Ashpole replied, January 21, 2023 at 4:31 p.m.

    The older wingers, Press and Heath, ought to be given a try at CB. One or both of them might turn out to be world class.

  11. frank schoon replied, January 22, 2023 at 9:07 a.m.

    Bob, Why not give Press and Heath the chance. When teams played with a libero it was usually the older attacker that was placed there and he knew all the ropes...and besided they had skills. Today we see nothing but square and backward passes because players in the backfield lack good skills.

    When is the last time, or how often have you seen a defender in the back make a 20-25 meter pass forwards to a  midfielder with his back facing downfield one-touching the ball to an upcoming overlapping player facing him, trying to beat the 'high pressure'....This is so rare for most player have difficulty with a play like that, but that's how you bypass the pressure instead making the silly square and backward passes in the backfield that are useless

    If you look at our women in these two games with all the new blood ,I can't say that are a better
    generation of players than the current old ones. What that tells me is there is a lack of development, they've reached a ceiling. Sure there might be a better player here and there but that has to do with innate talent ,not with better development

  12. Bob Ashpole replied, January 23, 2023 at 11:16 p.m.

    They are both wingers who can pass and dribble, defend too. They have good soccer brains and good first touch. IMO they are actually just as skilled as Lavelle but have higher mileage.

    I don't know if they would make good centerbacks or even if they are interested, but I think they had the skills to play a high line CB in the past. I would give them a try. What does it cost? If they can't adjust it will be apparent very quick.

    Neither one has a lot of shelf life left for international play, but the finals are this year. 

  13. frank schoon replied, January 24, 2023 at 8:48 a.m.

    Bob, I would like to get away from the centerback type of 'thinking'. I don't like to players positioning square to each other, for one pass can beat both players. I prefer the sweeper as last man. Having centerbacks has ruined attacking soccer coming from the back, towards midfield where you automatically than have a extra midfielder- numerical superiority. 

    What has happened all teams are used to playing that way and therefore have settled in, in a particular manner of play. Cruyff always wanted to do the opposite. In other words if the trend is not to play with wings he would play with wings for it upsets the rhythm of the opponent's, especially the opponent's backs.... . This is why I would like to see a change in our style....

    Let us say we gain ball possession in our third, the first thing you see is square pass, back pass or whatever, especially when one the centerbacks gets the ball. Now if you have a centerback like Lavelle immediately goes on attack this upsets the applecart. First of all, the opponents, especially the attackers having made attacking runs, are tired to chase back a Lavelle type going upfield. You see that changes thar rhythm of play, they are forced to play different as well as the opponent's halfbacks....Our transistion has immediately picked up speed....It is all these little things that change can wreck havoc on the opponents manner of play.....

  14. Bob Ashpole replied, January 24, 2023 at 11:15 p.m.

    Frank, I just call it bad soccer. I used to hate playing 442 with rec teams because they stayed horizontal. There are 2 whole US generations that think "flat back four" means 4 backs lined up horizontally. What it meant was that there was not an assigned sweeper.

    It was a zone defense where the back providing the depth shifted as best fit the circumstances. Switching off was a counter to the standard method of attacking a sweeper. It takes less movement and time to adjust to passes that switch sides.

    Players that wouldn't know good soccer if it bit them became youth coaches. The next generation slid further from knowing how to play good soccer. In this situation the best players' immediate family and their neighborhood provided the opportunity to learn good soccer. Most players didn't have these opportunities. 

    We have too many foosball coaches and not enough mentors and examples to go around. 

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