US women set for another Algarve Cup

Jeff Kassouf March 6, 2013 41
Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach scored her 153rd career international goal in her 200th US appearance on Feb. 13. She is five goals from tying Mia Hamm's all-time record. (Photo copyright Kathleen Olmstead for EqualizerSoccer.com)

It’s hard to believe, but it’s time for the Algarve Cup again.

The US women’s national soccer team has won the premier women’s tournament in Portugal eight times in 18 tries (this is the 20th edition of the tournament). Reaching the championship game this year will mean taking care of business against Iceland and China and finishing the group with at least a draw against Sweden.

It was Sweden that the US picked apart in last year’s third-place match, winning 4-0 on an Alex Morgan hat trick and a goal from Abby Wambach. That came after a 1-0 loss to Japan to end group play, ending a 31-game unbeaten run for the US at the Algarve Cup, which dated back to 2004.

Wednesday’s opener vs. Iceland (9 a.m. ET, on pay-per-view) offers a soft start for the US. While Iceland is ranked a respectable 15th in the world, they’ve never beaten the US in 12 tries (0-11-1). The last meeting between the two teams was in the 2011 Algarve Cup championship game, which the US won 4-2. Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir will be the most recognizable name to Americans. She played for the Philadelphia Independence in WPS in 2010 and 2011.

Friday’s game vs. China (ranked No. 17 in the world) should be a similar game in which the US certainly can’t afford to take the match lightly, but should win fairly comfortably if the Americans play to the best of their abilities.

All eyes are on the March 11 showdown against Sweden and former US coach Pia Sundhage, who led the Americans to Olympic gold medals in 200 and 2012 and guided them to a runners-up finish at the 2011 World Cup.

Tempted by the prospect of winning Euro 2013 on home soil, Sundhage has returned to Sweden to coach the team she starred for as a player in a 20-plus year career. Monday will be her first game against the team she used to manage, which she only parted ways with five months ago.

New US coach Tom Sermanni, off to a 2-0-0 start with a pair of wins against his native Scotland, has brought to Portugal much of the core that won the 2012 Olympic gold medal. Missing are goalkeeper Hope Solo (wrist injury), defenders Heather Mitts and Amy LePeilbet (knee surgery) and forward Amy Rodriguez (pregnant).

Most of the focus will be on Wambach, who has scored 153 career international goals, just five off of Mia Hamm’s all-time record. There should be plenty of goals to be had in Portugal and the US already showed that in a 4-1 training match win over Denmark on Monday. Denmark will be below the level of the four teams the US faces in the tournament proper.

Morgan, the other half of the United States’ one-two punch up top, looks fully recovered from the ankle injury suffered late in the first half of a Feb. 9 win over Scotland. Morgan told me in an interview just over a week ago, before the team left for Portugal, that her ankle felt good and she was looking forward to Portugal. She backed that up with two goals in that training match vs. Denmark and should challenge for the tournament’s golden boot, which she won in 2011.

New faces to the Algarve Cup include 18-year-old Lindsey Horan, currently plying her trade at PSG, where Tobin Heath will play until June. University of North Carolina defender Crystal Dunn and FC Kansas City midfielder and No. 3 overall draft pick Kristie Mewis are the other two young players on the roster.

Below is the full roster and US schedule for the Algarve Cup:

GOALKEEPERS (3): 18-Nicole Barnhart (FC Kansas City), 24-Ashlyn Harris (Washington Spirit), 21-Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC)
DEFENDERS (7): 19-Rachel Buehler (Portland Thorns FC), 6-Crystal Dunn (UNC), 14-Whitney Engen (Liverpool, England), 11-Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), 5-Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), 3-Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), 4-Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City)
MIDFIELDERS (8): 16-Yael Averbuch (Göteborg, Sweden), 7-Shannon Boxx (Chicago Red Stars), 12-Lauren Cheney (FC Kansas City), 17-Tobin Heath (PSG, France), 10-Carli Lloyd (Western New York Flash), 8-Kristie Mewis (FC Kansas City), 9-Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), 15-Megan Rapinoe (Lyon, France)
FORWARDS (5): 22-Lindsey Horan (PSG, France), 2-Sydney Leroux (Boston Breakers), 13-Alex Morgan (Portland Thorns FC), 23-Christen Press (Tyresö, Sweden), 20-Abby Wambach (Western New York Flash)

Schedule:

March 6: Iceland | 9 a.m. ET | PV | Albufeira, Portugal

March 8: China PR | 9 a.m. ET | PPV | Albufeira, Portugal

March 11: Sweden | 11 a.m. ET | PPV | Lagos, Portugal

March 13: TBD (placement match) | TBD | PPV | TBD, Portugal

Groups:

Group A
Germany, Norway, Japan, Denmark

Group B
USA, Sweden, Iceland, China PR

Group C
Portugal, Hungary, Wales, Mexico

  • Shelly

    Games are also being re-aired a day later on Fox Soccer for those who can’t shell out the $15/game for PPV.

    • TsovLoj

      For real? Ballin!

    • Terry Lash

      THanks for the information. The broadcast tomorrow will be at 9:00 am in the Washington, DC area. Most of the US games are not compelling enough for me to pay to watch live.

  • Tiger dee

    Any idea what is going on with Heather Mitts?? Is she injured or just didn’t make the squad??

    • NYRick

      She didn’t make the cut for the Algarve roster, nor the first two friendlies against Scotland last month. And quite frankly at 34, may be done with the national team. She was a good player, but it happens. It’s probably time.

    • http://twitter.com/hercircumstance hercircumstance

      She said on her twitter she’s injured which makes it hard to compete and show she should be on the roster. She’s been vocally supportive on twitter about the kids and the team in general and has been following along at home.

  • heremerawr

    Just finished watching the game. Our offense looked ridiculously off. Seriously, why weren’t there more subs, and why was the only sub so late in the game? I’m hoping Tom plans to switch the lineup for the next game, because the midfield was very… lacking. HAO excluded, of course.

    • NYRick

      Also watched the game. It is amazing the lack of creativity this team has, for all their talent, when neither Heath or Pinoe is on the pitch.

      Agree to why not more subs. It would have been a great opportunity to give Horan a half at least. Iceland had zero chance of winning the game or mounting an attack. TS seems obsessed right off the bat with getting Abby her record. And AM didn’t need to play 90. She’s way off and pressing right now. And speaking of pressing, Christen is the real deal. She needs to be on the pitch (midfield or forward) at all times.

      Cheney, for a big strong girl, flops and falls more easily than the Barca men. HAO played well, but the midfield is slow and lacking creativity without Pinoe or Heath to attack. And it really shows in AM’s game. She had chances, but not the clearcut ones that Heath and Pinoe service in for her. And if not for set pieces, Abby has no use on the pitch. She should be a 20-minute player at this point. She totally hinders the progress of Press, Horan and Leroux for WC15. TS looks like he’s caved already to the veterans on this team.

      • heremerawr

        I agree that we should have either Pinoe or Tobin on the field at all times. Preferably Tobs, because I love her, haha. Plus I think she connects really well with both AM and KO. And speaking of Alex Morgan, I’m kinda glad she wasn’t subbed off. That probably would’ve been a severe blow to her confidence, especially since Alex has been having a bit of trouble scoring lately.
        Abby, though, should’ve been subbed off after she scored her goal… at the latest. Give Horan a chance to step up and get a first cap in the process. My hope is that TS wants Abby to break Mia’s record to help garner support for the USWNT/NWSL. Once that happens, he’ll slowly begin to turn her into a sub, like you said. But who knows.
        I’m still skeptical of Press, personally, and will remain so until she has a chance to test herself against a high caliber team, such as Japan or Germany or, hell, even Sweden. Have to say, it’d probably be quite sweet for Press to score against Pia’s team… catharsis, even, haha. We’ll just have to wait and see, though. There are still plenty of games left, and I trust TS to do what he thinks is best.
        Random side-note, what did you think of Dunn? I thought she was pretty good, although she got caught up high a couple times, which almost resulted in a goal at one point (still, the fact that I noticed her more than most of the midfield is… horrendous).

        • NYRick

          Great points by you overall. I too want Tobin on the pitch at all times. After Marta, I think she is the most skilled, dynamic and creative player in the women’s game. And she does have great chemistry with AM. Which is really important because Tobin more than any other player on team truly understands how good AM is. She is the meal ticket and Tobin gets that. As AM goes, so goes this team. The other players get a little selfish sometimes (Pinoe, Lloyd and Abby) with long shots and the ball in general.

          As for KO, she may be my favorite player on the team. She runs the field as well as anyone, gets more solid by the game in her new position (you have to be pretty talented to make that move in the first place), and is a winner and leader on the pitch. Terrific player and she does work well with Tobin and Alex. They, along with Press, are the true core moving forward on this team.

          In regards to Press, I’m a big fan. Just a really smart player who has developed great skills playing in Sweden and a natural scorer. When teamed with Alex with some chemistry and games together, you will see the most unstoppable forward tandem the women’s international game has ever seen. Unfortunately, Abby stands in the way of a lot of that happening. She is no longer good enough to start games on this team. She is a 20-minute player at best.

          As for Dunn, wow is she fast. She closes so quickly on plays she’s beaten on. She is going to be a big time back defender for this team. And yes, the midfield today was painfully slow (save HAO) and plodding. And what’s with the Cheney diving and flopping all over the place now?

          • necron99

            What I saw was a mid field that did not move the ball forward or move it quickly. Therefore Abby and Alex were often far off of the Iceland backline winning balls and moving it forward. That is not the way for them to be effective at the role the are supposed to play. It didn’t have any other meaning for the quality of Abby or Alex’s game overall.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe Iceland were a bit better than USA expected? The Danes drew with Germany and Norway beat Japan, so it seems like Sweden is underperforming.

          • heremerawr

            Iceland definitely does deserve credit. I respected from how hard their defense was playing. Really, the last goal was an egregious error on Iceland’s part, but otherwise you could tell that the defense was working its butt off (plus the keeper’s save of Abby’s header in the first half was very impressive). Although it didn’t help that it seemed as though the ref was calling what felt like every other nudge and sneeze. Although I’ll take a ref who’s super tight rather than a lax ref any day, so meh.

          • heremerawr

            The fact that the defense scored two (if you count Boxxy, who is more of a holding midfielder — not to mention was assisted by Rampone) of our three goals sums it up rather succinctly, in my opinion. For a team that’s struggled with defense a fair bit, it sure looked pretty darn good today in comparison to the offense. Which could be considered a good thing, I suppose, as it shows we’re improving defensively.

          • Anon

            Just replying here with all of my thoughts, I guess.

            Tobin’s chemistry with Alex is one reason why I prefer her on the left rather then right or centrally.

            I’m a little surprised with the lack of subs, but Sermanni seems to like seeing his starters out there. I think in the Scotland friendlies, most of his subs were after 60 minutes, and many after 75 or 80. I do think it is crucial for the midfield though, as Pia never really had a solidified line-up there.

            Agreeing that Abby isn’t a full 90 minute player any more, she misplayed a couple balls that should have at least resulted in chances, and just seemed lost out there. A lot of that was probably the lack of connection between the midfield though.

            I was pretty impressed with Dunn as well. She seemed well in both defending and getting forward. I would like to see someone get some experience at left back beside KO though; I think Sauerbrunn is the only other one on the roster with experience there, but I like her more centrally. You obviously never want it to happen, but you have to be prepared for injury.

            Press seemed pretty invisible while she was on the field, minus the one chance she had near the goal. It seemed like they played almost exclusively through HAO’s side late in the game, though that’s not surprising as good as HAO was playing. I’d love to see her, as well as players like Harris, Mewis, etc, start against Sweden as a slap in the face of Pia. I love Pia, but all of these players have been ready to play for a while now.

            One last thought I have is that I hate seeing Cheney not in the center of the midfield. She took a spot away from Pinoe/Tobin, who are more effective out wide. I think a lot of the issue with the midfield stemmed from this.

          • Anton

            You’re right on Tobin, she should be on the left at all times. I don’t see her as a CM, sorry everyone.

            Why? First off, her frame. She’d never be able to take the pounding that comes with playing CM like Carli, Cheney and Boxx can. Could she ‘bulk up’? Sure, but I’m afraid that would take away from what she’s good at.

            Secondly, she has zero threat of a shot. Carli and Cheney can both line up and blast it from 30, so defenses play them tightly and that gives space to Alex/Abby to do their thing in the box. If Tobin was at CM, the defense would likely lay off and pay more attention to the forwards knowing that the CM is more than likely not going to be a threat from outside the 18.

            Tobin, while more creative then Carli and Cheney is much better off on the flank where she can gain speed and use her skillset to find space and whip in crosses (which she is improving at) to Alex, Abby and co.

          • NYRick

            Agreed. Tobin needs to be on the left, along with KO to work a triangle with Alex. Tobin is a student of the game, a player with vision who understands that things need to go though Alex to really make this team tick.

            Press had a couple of good scoring chances, but remember she is still in there now as a midfielder. Should have scored on that nice flip in from KO near the end, and if she’s in at forward where she belongs, she taps in the easy one Abby was gifted from Alex too.

            Also, if I’m understanding you, you feel Cheney belongs in center mid as more of a holding midfielder? Kind of like a Michael Carrick? Would that be at the expense of Boxx or Lloyd? I’m good either way, but I have to admit I feel Lauren’s game has gone backwards the last year, especially after WC11. Thoughts?

          • Anon

            (Keep in mind this is mostly looking towards 2015, not necessarily right now)

            With all the attacking talent we have, I’d like a 4-3-3 formation, so she’d be the only midfielder in the center of the field. I thought Cheney played decently last year, but I barely remember most of the non-Olympic games. During the Olympics she seemed decent but was holding a lot more because Boxx was hurt. I think, if we were to run a 4-3-3, the center midfielder wouldn’t be as crucial to the offense, particularly because Heath and Rapinoe get involved so well, and the fullbacks probably would as well. I haven’t seen as much of the fringe players like Averbuch, but I think Cheney would be pretty solid in this role.

          • NYRick

            So who are your mids and who are the forwards in the 4-3-3? How about this:

            In the midfield, Tobin on the left, Cheney in the center, Pinoe on the right. And the 3 forwards, Alex on the left, Press in the middle, and I think it should be Leroux (with Abby getting 20 minutes for either Press or Syd). Is that what you had in mind? Come to think of it, maybe by 2015 Horan is one of the forwards at the expense of I think Syd. I can’t even comprehend a forward lineup of AM, Press and Syd. That would be absurd and really unfair. Abby please ride off into the sunset. Your place in women soccer history is in tact. You got your FIFA player of the year (albeit it should have to gone to Alex). You will still be a star attraction in the new US league. You will have your scoring record by the summer (in 4 years or so Alex will demolish it anyway).

            It will never happen. For starters, Boxx, Lloyd and HAO are sticking around for WC15 and TS will cave to at least 2 of them. Plus, that will greatly hinder the progress of Mewis. I really want to see her on the pitch. No reason she shouldn’t have played against Iceland today. That team had no real chance of winning that game. We saw Dunn today and I liked a lot of what I saw. This is the year to experiment. The main problem is that the old guard is having too much fun (kind of like early 2000s and enjoying the popularity of being on the team. They never got this type of attention and they are loving it and not going anywhere if they can help it. You see Mitts is going out kicking and screaming. It’s a wonderful prestigious gig for a US women soccer player to be on this team. A strong manager is needed to put the best 11 on the field. I’m not sure about TS yet.

          • heremerawr

            You do realize HAO and Pinoe are around the same age, right? Plus I think part of the reason HAO got less playing time during the Olympics was due to an injury. She’s still very good IMO and I believe has proved herself to be quite capable. What I’d like to see if we went to 3 forwards is AM on the left and Press on the right, with either Horan or Leroux in the center. I wish there were more target forwards, as that is an aspect of Abby’s game that makes her special, but eh, no matter. My midfield would probably be similar to yours, although I might put HAO over Pinoe. They can both pick quite a cross haha.

          • NYRick

            Yes, I do know they are around the same age. I think they are both around 27. HAO came onto the national team when she was around 17, so it does seem like she has been around forever. Also, I have no problem if she was a flanking midfielder. No one hustles more on the team than her, and she hasn’t lost a step yet. Speed and crossing is her game. Maybe Pinoe gives you much of what Heath brings and it would be redundant or to the disadvantage of the other.

          • Anon

            Morgan-(Horan/Leroux)-Press

            Heath-Cheney-Rapinoe

            is what I am currently on. My opinions can of course change, as I see more of the younger players.

            In regards to TS getting the younger players experience, I’m hoping what he does, after seeing the Iceland game, is going with a fresh lineup and not subbing much again, at least against China. Instead of going 45-60 minutes with starters and 30-45 minutes with the bench twice, go 90 minutes with 1 lineup and 90 minutes with the next. If I were Sermanni, I’d go with something like Barnhart/Harris, O’Hara, Sauerbrunn, Engen, Krieger, Heath, Mewis, Averbuch, Rapinoe, and two of Leroux/Press/Horan, for the next game.

            I still won’t 100% believe that Boxx will still be around in 2015 at the national team level. She’ll be 38 then, and might not even be motivated to keep playing. I thought her (as well as Mitts) had said they wanted 2012 to be their last major tournament, but who knows. HAO and Lloyd will most likely be around but that doesn’t mean they can’t contribute off the bench. I actually really value HAO off the bench because sometimes it seems Pinoe or Tobin can get a little stagnant, whereas HAO almost always runs hard and brings a good energy level (which should be even more so, if she doesn’t have to play a full 90 like she did today).

            It’s very hard, in my opinion, to try to project two-plus years into the future, because you can never tell if players will overperform, underperform, etc. I don’t think many people a few years ago would be thinking the way we are about A-Rod. Think about how Christine Nairn got her first cap before Alex Morgan. There are always tons of young players coming up but that doesn’t mean they are going to replace the old guard.

          • Steglitz49

            Provided that she continues to develop, it is hard to see Lindsey Horan not being the starting striker with Alex Morgan in 2015. The others might be subs, but then a wise manager might want to have Abby as a sub, just in case.

            Ms Heath, Rapinoe and Engen are also given in 2015 (if they are still playing, obviously).

          • NYRick

            Yep, I like your choices. But you’re right, it’s so hard to project two years down the road for a group of players. Anything can happen. And you’re right on ARod. She is essentially done with the national team in my opinion. She’s only 25, been here since 18, has 100 caps and a good goal scoring record but is done. Good luck to her and her family but the girls currently on the forward roster are simply better than her. And really may be much better than her. Add in missing an entire year and it would take a miracle or a major injury to one of the current forwards for her to make the roster again. Great point on Nairn too.

            Also, people thought Morgan had the potential to be very good two years ago. But who ever thought this good? Actually better than Mia when all is said and done most likely. That’s why when we both pick what we’d like to see in a 4-3-3 and I think we are pretty much in agreement with our choices, I mean RIGHT NOW. I just so wish Abby would get her darn record already. I’m hoping she scores 3 against China and 2 vs. Sweden so it’s done and over. Abby should not be on the field for 90 minutes in any USNWT’s match this year. That is ridiculous and a hinderous to the program. This year is the year to experiment and break in Horan, Leroux and Press.

          • Steglitz49

            ARod at 25 is the same age as Magdalena Neuner when she retired because she could not motivate herself anymore. Admittedly, ARod is younger than Jessica Ennis but older than Jessica Rossi and Johaug and the same age as Kalla, but what does that all mean? Life is a tree of peaches and ARod is the one who reaches for the one with cream.

            The opposition in 2015 will be fiercer than in 2011. I watched some clips from 2011. The Japanese goal against Germany was unbelievable. How it could not be the goal of WC-11 remains a mystery.

            As for Horan, she hardly needs breaking in. TS has a tough choice with so much abundant talent. One thing he can be sure about, if USA does not win his choices are wrong whomever he picks, because the US could not lose because the other team was better could it?

          • heremerawr

            I think Cheney has so much potential, personally. I just love the way she turns on the ball. I also think she’s a far less selfish player than Lloyd, who I’m not a big fan of (so that could be my bias speaking), and distributes the ball better. Although I’d also like to see someone like, say, Mewis, does in that role just to see how she fairs. Although that doesn’t seem likely considering the US mentality so far. But eh, it’s the first game. I’m hopefully optimistic that TS will give other, newer players a shot on Friday.

          • Steglitz49

            Ms Heath is a naturally left-footed player. Such players usually play in the left half of the field. There are exceptions. The Magic Dwarf, for example, is right-footed but place in the left back position. He is very good.

          • Steglitz49

            Because it is unusual to play with more than 2 strikers in ladies’ football (except when you meet a weak opponent), TS will have to decide whether he starts with AM and LH and use others as substitutes, or what he favors. Obviously, in Canada in 2015 it will depend who is on song and healthy.

            With Norway winning and Denmark drawing, the Algarve cup is opening up like a crocus. This is altogether fitting because this “Little World Cup” grew out of a training camp for the Nordic countries. Maybe we will see a replay of the Sydney final? Last year’s final is hard to trump for excitement and skill and enjoyment and pleasure.

          • heremerawr

            To quote HAO from today, “Are you kidding me?” was my rather apt response to the way the midfield played. I think part of it has to do with the fact that Cheney was out on the wing (or supposed to be), something we haven’t seen since… was it the World Cup? I dunno. When your forwards are playing on the wing and in the midfield, there’s definitely a problem, imo.

            Also, I’m with you guys that we should be working on our younger players, such as Mewis and Horan and Press and Engen, because a lot of our starters are getting old. But, again, I think Steglitz is onto something when he brings up the NWSL… it seems as though TS is trying to ensure success to help out the newly formed league.

        • Steglitz49

          Pia’s priority is to build a team that can go all the way to the final in Euro-13 and preferably win it. What happens in the Algarve stays in the Algarve. Last year Sasaki experimented wildly. Japan got to the Olympic final against expectations.

          USA seems obsessed with winning everything at all costs. It is easy to forget that soccer is a club game with an international overlay. The World cup comes along every 4 years, likewise the €uros. That is why domestic leagues and cups and regional play-offs aka Champions League is such a big component of a soccer player’s life and the spectators’.

        • NYRick

          Seriously, how great would it be for Press to put in two against Pia. Justice.

          • Steglitz49

            If she played and did not, what would be the conclusion?

          • NYRick

            I know you are a Pia booster, but admit it. It would be fun if Press put it to Sweden. It would be interesting to see her reaction following a goal. I don’t think it would be subdued like CR7 was MU. Speaking of which, was that red card on Nani an absolute travesty or what? A ref should never destroy a tie in the most prestigious football tournament in the world between two teams of that quality.

          • Steglitz49

            It was a perfectly judged red card. The referee did well. I wish more referees worked to the same high standard.

          • Steglitz49

            Regarding Pia, her moment of truth will be this summer. Can she do as well as Dennerby? is not the question because she must do better. Judging by their game against China, Sweden’s attack must shape up and learn to put the ball in the net.

            Making predictions is hard, especially about the future, said Yogi Berra. I expect Norway and South-Korea to be extra special teams in 2015, especially Norway. Norway in the final is not beyond the bookies.

      • Terry Lash

        I agree that the Algarve Cup is a good opportunity to give the younger players an opportunity and to help them get ready for the WC. Is there an effective way for fans to get their comments to TS?

        • Steglitz49

          Your point is well taken but can USA afford to experiment? It seems that the NWSL game-plan is that they must win this tournament as part of an extended Fans Victory tour.

          Japan is prepared to experiment and look what happened to them: 0-2 against Norway. Denmark stood firm against Germany.

          USA has the same philosophy as Canada: must win at all costs. I am not persuaded that that is the right direction for ladies football. It seems like a blind alley that will end in frustration and tears.

          • NYRick

            The worse part of both those results (Japan and Germany) is that the US needs to meet one of them in the final game or this tournament is a total waste. I mean can you imagine a US-Norway final. Yawn. That’s why winning the Algarve shouldn’t be that important to the US team or TS. Prepping the young up and comers for and giving them valuable experience and confidence for WC15 should be the goal.

          • Steglitz49

            Norway won the World cup in 1995. They were runners-up in 1991 and 4th in 1999 losing against Brazil on penalties (4-5, not 1-3). Norway won the Sydney olympics and were 3rd in 1996 (first olympics with women’s football).

            I would not be so sanguine about Norway, judging by how well Norway’s ladies do in sports in which the country puts its not inconsiderable resources. I do not know their names, but no doubt there are footballing lasses who hope to get the same recognition as Berger, Björgen and Johaug get.

  • Anton

    I could have sworn I was watching the USMNT out there today. They looked strikingly similar.

  • http://twitter.com/kernel_thai Mr Rick

    Wow…hide all the sharp implements. First, they won 3-0 which is better than Germany, Sweden and Japan managed. Second, playing teams like Norway (12), Denmark (13), Iceland (15) and China (17) isnt the same as a pick up game against the nuns of St Catherines. These r solid teams. Ask Germany about Denmark. Third, there wasnt much subbing because there is only one day off before the next game. It wouldnt surprise me to see Rapinoe, Krieger, Heath, Engen and Sauerbrunn get full games against China plus a different GK. As to no young players, Dunn got 90 minutes today and that’s the way u learn about a player. As to the midfield play against a crowded defensive midfield…yep, still awful. They r going to continue to play badly against teams that pack their defense because the US doesnt have enough close control players in the midfield. With Heath and Rapinoe on the field, things r marginally better but until the US has interior players who can hold the ball against pressure they r gonna continue to look like they did in the first half.