Category Archives: USWNT

Going For Gold

USWNT Olympics

The site of the final group match for the USWNT took place in the Brazilian city of Manaus. After their 1-0 victory over France in Belo Horizonte on Saturday the team was assured of a place in the quarterfinals of the Olympic soccer tournament. Needing only a draw to win the group, manager Jill Ellis had ability to rest some of her more important players to ensure they were as fresh as possible for the next round.

The match against Columbia took place without five of the usual starters. Defenders Julie Johnston, and  Meghan Klingenberg, midfielders Tobin Heath, Allie Long, and forward Alex Morgan were all rested for parts of the match, although Long and Morgan made appearances in the second half. In their place were Whitney Engen, Ali Krieger, Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, and Christen Press.

The early part of the game was spent in the Columbian’s defensive half until a rash challenge by Megan Rapinoe brought a free kick just outside the American 18 yard box. Columbia capitalized on this opportunity by putting the ball between Hope Solo’s legs and into the back of the net to give Columbia their first ever goal in the Olympics as well as their first goal against the United States.

Less than 10 minutes later Rapinoe was taken off in a pre-planned substitution and 18-year-old Mallory Pugh was put into the match. With her ability to play both wings, Pugh was able to interchange with Chrystal Dunn to cause some extra confusion for the Columbian defense. This confusion led to Dunn’s goal where she was left unmarked on the back post after a shot by Carli Lloyd ricochet into the 6-yard box. The American’s found this equalizer mere minutes before halftime to give some hope to the team going into the break.

Out of the locker-room Jill Ellis made her second of three subs by taking captain Carli Lloyd off in favor of forward Alex Morgan. This helped the team pile on the pressure which was eventually capped off when Dunn sent in a cross from the left side. First half sub Mallory Pugh found herself on the ball before she cut along the top of the 6-yard box and fired home the go-ahead goal. With that goal she became the youngest player in USWNT history to score at the Olympics.

The rest of the game featured mostly possession by the Americans, with a few counter-attacking opportunities for the Columbians. In the 90th minute Kelley O’Hara made a reckless tackle deep in the defensive half which led to another dangerous free kick opportunity for Columbia. When the ball was struck, Solo appeared to be cheating towards a cross rather than a shot and that led to her being out of position as she watched the ball sail into the net for a late equalizer.

Despite Hope Solo’s shocking struggles, missed opportunities were the biggest story of the game as the Americans had countless chances in the offensive zone that resulted in goal kicks and one could wonder how different the outcome would have been if some of those chances had been put home. In the end it did not matter as the Americans are through to the Quarterfinals as the champions of their group.

USWNT Trounces Columbia 4/6/16

USWNT crest

The scene is a brisk spring evening in East Hartford, Connecticut’s Whitney Stadium. Temperature at game time was 41 degrees and the stadium crew had to spend the majority of Tuesday clearing the field of the snow that is covering the North East. Coming into the game Columbia has not played since the summer. The Americans had one player making her debut, Allie Long.

The first half starts out with some shaky play by the Americans but as the game continued they grew into the game. The exception to the shaky play was Tobin Heath who in the 4th minute showed her excellent skill on the ball to get to the end line and send a pass to Crystal Dunn inside the 6 yard box. Dunn sent her shot right into a Columbian defender and the ball was cleared. By the 12th minute the offense was on the same page and Allie Long got a fantastic long shot that rang off the cross bar. It took until the 27th minute before Carli Lloyd assisted Dunn’s twisting goal, her eighth goal on the calendar year. Columbia got a good opportunity in the 28th minute when Ospina took a long shot that was saved easily by Hope Solo. A minute later the US has a chance of their own saved by Columbian goalie Perez. In the 32 minute off a free kick Lloyd found Heath, who in turn found Lindsey Horan on the left wing and delivered a cross to the incoming Allie Long who scored a wonderful header on her debut. A minute later on a great offensive play Lloyd delivered a pass to 17 year old Mallory Pugh and she made no mistake in placing the ball over the goalies leg and into the goal. In minute 39 Pugh returned the favor by delivering an assist to Lloyd for a tap in goal.

Overall in the first half the team showed confidence on the attack and also in the defensive side of the field. The forwards showed great movement off the ball and good finishing. In particular Mal Pugh was great on the ball always having her head up and able to get around defenders when needed. Allie Long played very well in possession but also in defense in her deeper midfield role.

To start the second half Jill Ellis made two of her six changes bringing in Samantha Mewis and Christen Press for Mallory Pugh and Lindsey Horan

In the 53 minute Dunn fired wide after Allie Long sent her a wonderful pass into the box. A few minutes later a defensive mistake saw a Columbian forward in alone on Solo who makes a good save. In the 59th minute Allie Long got another great shot from outside the box. Columbia has another chance thwarted by Solo in the 61 minute. On the other end of the pitch a minute later Heath receives a great cross from Press and she volleyed it home for a 5-0. Goal six comes off a good corner that is not cleared by Columbia and Julie Johnston heads the ball across goal to Allie Long with her second goal of the game.

The 66th minute sees Johnston and Becky Sauerbrunn come off for Emily Sonnett and Whitney Engen.

The 69th minute sees Kelly O’Hara come off for Heather O’Reilly. Megan Kingenberg’s day also ends with Ali Krieger coming on.

They are the final subs of the game for manager Jill Ellis.

The 71 minute Heath showed her dazzling skills yet again going around two defenders and passing to Long. She tried to back heel back to Heath but she did not continue her run and the ball is turned over. In the 74th minute off a good restart Crystal Dunn finds Press and she bends the ball around Perez to make it a 7-0 game.

That 7-0 score was how the game ended after the Columbian team made a bunch of subs that helped solidify the team some. With these subs the team was able to withstand wave after wave of attacks from the American women.

Player of the game in my opinion would be Tobin Heath. She was great in possession and going forward she made the right cuts. Heath made many fantastic passes and got a great goal in the 61st minute. She also showed her leadership and inspired players like Allie Long to play with confidence.

Another player with a fantastic game was Allie Long who had two goals and quite a few chances to score a few more. She played well in a deep midfield role in the first half and she played just as good in a more attacking role in the midfield for the second half of the game. She did all of this in her debut in hopes of forcing her way into the team for the Olympics.

In this game both Carli Lloyd and Crystal Dunn joined Alex Morgan, who did not play, in the team lead for goals with 8 each.

Sunday is a rematch between these two teams in Chester, Pennsylvania.

 

 

Road to Rio: Group Game 1

The journey to Rio will only be made by 14 teams out of all the eligible teams in the world. Only two of those teams will come from teams in the CONCACAF region. in a few weeks the winners of the two semi-final games will take part in a final that means a little less than most finals. This is because the two teams that will meet in the finals will have already booked their ticket to the big dance in Rio come August.

The USWNT took their first step towards that goal tonight with a huge 5-0 victory over Costa Rica. The goals were provided by Alex Morgan (2), Carli Lloyd, Crystal Dunn, and Christen Press, whose goal came off an incredible first touch can be seen above. For the women representing the US, there was a lot that went right early and the play in the middle looked like good possession with the end of the game producing a few more goals. In the game there were six players who I think stood out above the rest of the team in tonight’s game.

One of those players was Morgan Brian. She was not on the World Cup Qualifying roster but through her play for the Houston Dash Morgan Brianshe was able to force her way into the roster for the World Cup. After the first game she proved she needed to be starting and as the tournament went on she looked more comfortable playing next to Lauren Holiday. After Holiday’s retirement the center of the midfield became Brian’s to control and that is exactly what she has done. During the game with Costa Rica she was all over the field not only on the offensive side of the ball, but also tracking back to play defense as well. Her overall play made her one of the best players on the pitch tonight.

Another player who impressed in this game was Lindsey Horan. She was paired with Brian in the center of the midfield and together they dominated the midfield of Costa Rica. She was able to disperse the Lindsey Horanball out to the wings or farther up the field when it was necessary and looked calm when in possession. It was not very apparent that she was uncomfortable where she was playing, despite the fact that she plays up font in more of a striker role for her former club team Paris St. Germain. This year she will feature for the Portland Thorns in the NWSL after the rights to sign her were traded to Portland as part of the deal that sent Alex Morgan to the new Orlando expansion team. She is another young player who along with Brian can be the future of this USWNT.

The third player who stood out to me is the striker that everyone has their eyes on, Alex Morgan. She had a fantastic day which ended Alex Morganwith her bagging a brace, but it did not stop there. She made runs at the defense the entire game and actually played a full 90 minutes. With her two goals today she has now scored 59 goals in 101 caps for the USWNT as she looks to be the next great American scorer. As the tournament continues look for her to add more goals to her incredible record as she looks to prove she can stay fit for an entire tournament.

The fourth of these players is left midfielder Tobin Heath. There is a definite reason why EA Sports gave her 5 stars for skill moves and it Tobin Heathwas on full display tonight. She dazzled defenders with her fancy footwork and intricate moves with the ball. She won quite a few free kicks in dangerous areas and assisted on the late goal by Christen Press. She is gearing up to play in her third Olympics, should the US qualify, and her experience will be needed as she will most likely be playing with a young and mostly inexperienced, in major tournaments, midfield. Her ability on the ball and movement off it will be needed especially if Megan Rapinoe is unable to make it back in time to play in the Olympics.

The fifth player, and final starter, from today’s game who I thought stood out a little more than the rest was Crystal Dunn. She played with a lot of energy before being subbed off in the later stages of the game. Going into crystal Dunnthe summer she was a snub for the World Cup roster, but instead of getting her down she continued with her club team, the Washington Spirit, and eventually was called up for the Victory Tour. After some good performances late in the tour she earned a starting spot for the Olympic Qualifying tournament and boy did she deliver. Her goal was scored through hard work and heart as she fought through defenders and the goalie to knock the ball into the goal from inside the six yard box. If she continues to play like this she will be looked at as a replacement for Megan Rapinoe in the future.

The final player that I thought played particularly well was 17 year old Mallory Pugh. She came on later in the game, the 68th minute, in place of Crystal Dunn and played pretty well despite being a little Mallory Pughout of position. early in her time in the game she looked a little timid but she definitely was playing with more confidence as the match progressed. She had a few looks at goal in the late stages and showed a little bit of her playmaking skill as well. The main thing that stood out was her ability to run right around defenders which is something that only Crystal Dunn was able to do consistently during the game. Pugh is going to be one of those player to watch out for as she begins her collegiate career at UCLA in the fall. As she continues to develop as a player it will be fun to see her continued development in the highly competitive USWNT program.

These were the six players I felt stood out the most and they should have bright futures ahead of all of them.

Farewell Abby

abby

After the World Cup Final was played and the USWNT, United States Womens National Team, defeated Japan 5-2, the Victory Tour that would last the rest of the year was announced. With all the veterans on the team I felt like it was going to be the farewell tour to many of the stars as well. Even knowing this and the fact that she is 35 and not playing on a club team, I was still a little shocked in October when the greatest player of her generation, Abby Wambach, announced her retirement from the game.  On Wednesday, December the 16th of 2015, the soccer world said its goodbye to one of its legends. Abby Wambach played in her 255th and final game for the National Team. Her 184 goals are the most by any player, mens or womens, at the international level. She has been an influence to many throughout her career and she is a big reason that soccer has gotten as popular in the USA as it has in the past decade. Not only through her goal scoring prowess, but also because she was not afraid to let others know what she thought about things. For her teams she was  the unquestioned leader even when she was not on the field, or wearing the captains armband.

The game on Wednesday night brought about a different feel than previous games. Many of the younger players, to whom players like Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny, Christie Rampone, and Lauren Holiday were entrusting the fate of the national team  to, were on display last night. Tobin Heath will be one of the next superstars of the midfield with her  dazzling displays with the ball at her feet. The young midfielder Morgan Brian who was an unknown before the World Cup has continued to look more confident every time she takes the field. The versatile Lindsey Horan, who came on just before halftime in place of an injured Alex Morgan, showed her nose  for goal late in the game despite her equalizer being disallowed for offsides. Finally the dynamic Chrystal Dunn came on late and saw plenty of the ball going up and down the pitch. These are some of the players to whom the USWNT has been entrusted and I believe they will be up for the task.