USWNT to play Russia in Atlanta on Feb. 12

Jeff Kassouf January 15, 2014 69

The U.S. women will face Russia on Feb. 12 in Atlanta. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Make that two games for the United States women against Russia in February. The U.S. women will play Russia on Feb. 12 in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, four days after the two teams meet in Boca Raton, Fla.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, since the Russian federation revealed the matches earlier in the month, but U.S. Soccer has finally confirmed both matches.

Both matches will be livestreamed on ussoccer.com, making TV options sound unlikely. And in truth, the No. 21-ranked Russian team which failed to get out of the group stage at Euro 2013 isn’t the most enticing of matches for American fans.

The U.S. women are 5-0-1 all-time against Russia and this will be the Americans’ first-ever game in the Georgia Dome and the actual city of Atlanta, despite winning the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. The knockout round games were played in Athens, Ga., after group games were staged throughout the Southeast.

  • Zach

    Soooooo excited!

  • Steglitz49

    “The No. 21-ranked Russian team which failed to get out of the group stage at Euro 2013″ is a little bit harsh. Lots had to be drawn between Denmark and Russia because they could not be separated by the standard metrics. Denmark won the toss and went on to dispatch the French, who had beaten Russia in their group game. Que serra serra!

    Having typed that, if the USWNT do not win 4-0 or better, something strange is afoot.

    • STT

      I don’t think it’s harsh. It’s not like Russia was third in their group with a respectable 1-1-1 record (or even 1-0-2 or 0-3-0); they were third with with 0-2-1, 2pts instead of 3 or 4pts. That’s definitely worth criticizing.

      • Steglitz49

        Canada went through as a lucky loser in the Olympics. The Danes, admittedly, also lost in the SF of Euro-13.

    • SIlver Frost

      Germany beat them 9-0 in December. We should do 18-0.

      • Steglitz49

        Have you counted your chickens of late?

        • Silver Frost

          I have no fowl. But I do know how to count goals when USWNT destroys Russland. It’s 2014. No apologies.

      • gerd karl

        russia is not bad, the uswnt must hard fight to beat russia

  • Rufan

    A warm weather vacation for the Russians.

  • newsouth

    No need for the same old buzzards to start this game. Russia isn’t much better than Costa Rica.

    • Sydonia

      Is this the old adage about necessary but not sufficient? I say play Abbster 90 minutes a game till she excuses herself as not sufficient.

    • treehill

      In the first half of 2013 Sermanni varied his attacking lineups freely. In the second half not so much. The question is, will he start 2014 like early 2013 or late 2013? I can only hope that whatever made him seemingly lose his nerve in latter 2013 goes away.

      Interesting facts: In the first 8 games of 2013, Wambach, HAO, Lloyd and Holiday had only 15 starts out of a possible 32, including two games where NONE of them started.

      In the last 8 games, those four players had 29 out of 32 possible starts. Wambach, Lloyd, and Holiday only missed one start each; HAO started all 8 games.

      • newsouth

        as you get closer to the world cup, don’t u start focusing on a core set of players, at least 15 or so? i doubt by the end of the summer he’ll be playing with different line ups. in my opinion he’ll commit to the wrong line up. he can’t even drop a family tomato can game without the doubters coming out of the wood works.

        • treehill

          Well he’s lost a lot of time but he could still mix up lineups early 2014, settle on something by Fall, and have half a year to develop chemistry (assuming they win quals easily). But it would have been way better to keep varying lineups all 2013 so he’d have a lot more information now.

          The worst case scenario is if you’re right and late 2013 was him settling on a final WC lineup with barely any minutes from the youngsters.

          • NYRick

            TS is an utter fool if Dunn, Engen, Press, Syd, Tymrak and Brian don’t get serious minutes right up to the WC Qualifiers in the Fall. Then, he should have a solid idea on who the 11, or even key 14 or 15 should be. Also, Franch should get a full match against a tomato can as well during this time.

            However, the smart money is that he tries to win with Pia’s core at WC15.

      • john

        Part of that shift was the unavailability of others. W/o looking it up I seem to recall injuries, College Cup, and Euro club conflicts shrinking the pool. TS has looked at over 40 players so he’s not closeminded. Algarve will be more telling as it has often been where US blends in it’s new members. Then we see how far out TS wants to work w/ his group.

        • NYRick

          Your assessment is fair but very diplomatic. Yes, he may have “looked at” over 40 players in the pool, but there are strong politics on this team as to who the 11 will be at the end of the day.

          Here’s an example of a coach with brass ones: Jim Harbough. Ok, for the most part people think he’s a tool, but he needs major props given for the move from Alex Smith to Kapernick. He was winning with Smith and even got to an NFC title game with him his first year, but he watched practices and saw the better option, and the better player. The result: now he has a franchise young QB to build around for the next 8-10 years. Smart coach. Big stones. And the stakes are much higher and the negatives far more severe for him than Sermanni if he made the wrong call.

          • newsouth

            Sermanni only has two options. Either he plays high and pushes teams right out the stadiums or he plays via Wambach and gets in slug fests and nail bitters in elimination games.

          • NYRick

            Translation:

            Pia’s core = slugfests/nailbitters.
            Young guns = run teams out of the stadium in 40 minutes.*

            * They have the talent to do this, that’s the sad part.

          • Reality

            Do you think that the performance of key NT players in the NWSL season have any effect on Sermanni’s decision process?

          • NYRick

            No. If that meant anything, then “his” vote for FIFA POY had to be Holiday. It wasn’t.

            He doesn’t pick his eleven in his office or on a plane, or in a quiet moment. That for the most part, is decided for him by others.

          • Reality

            We’ve had little information about what transpired at the last 2 camps with the NT…curiously silent in terms of publicity and interviews. We know that there must be evaluations and comparisons being made…or is it just to keep the players in shape and foster team spirit?

          • NYRick

            I could be wrong, but I honestly don’t believe there is “open” competition for just about any spot in those camps. The young invites are thrilled to be there, and kept in line by the vets. That’s why I can’t ever imagine the US women’s team playing some young 18 year old phenom as a starter. You know she exists or has existed in the past or present, but it will never happen in this program. The equal of a LeBron or Messi in the form an 18 year old American women can walk into camp, and be told to wait her turn, if her turn comes at all.

            Until that changes, Germany and Japan and another to emerge will be on the heels of this program for top honors year after year. It shouldn’t have to be that way. The have the talent and the feeding system in place to be as dominant in their sport as the old Soviet Red Army hockey teams. And even if you look up the history of those teams, for their entire reign, they also had a young late teens/early 20s superstar in their mix. No game playing, no ego pacification, it was about winning, and the best players took the ice.

          • Reality

            I’m thinking of scenarios that would force Sermanni and U.S. Soccer to change course in utilizing the abundant talent pool. It would have to be a combination of below average performance by the veterans in the friendlies and Algarve and superlative performance by the young guns in whatever appearance time they were allowed. If you also apply the same scenario to NWSL performance, perhaps there might be sufficient reason to take the necessary action to change the NT lineup. If, in the face of all that, the old core is retained and the WC2015 is lost, the consequences would be severe…not just for Sermanni but for U.S. women’s soccer.

          • Reality

            The only other scenarios are more drastic…injuries and/or losses…neither of which should be the motivating force for change but would definitely produce it.

          • NYRick

            No one wants to see injuries in any capacity to have the transition occur. Besides, those players in question have been great servants to the program and you don’t ever want to see them leave the stage due to injury. What’s needed is a stronger internal mangagement to force the transition. Not going to happen. It it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is how they view it. Unforunately, there are so many financial factors and big sponsors for the big stars that hands are forced. Money talks. It always will. And you can interpret that any way you like as it pertains to this program.

            Another thing is that even with the vets playing or Pia’s old crew for the sake of this argument, they do still present a very formidable opponent for anyone. That’s the real problem. The USSF can rationalize that they can win with the old popular core, it just might be harder. But their popularity plan stays in tact (more $) and their relationship with the Nikes, Gatorades and Panasonics of the world is in good standing. Funny thing though, I think the fan base, young and old, would care just as much about the team if the star players were Brian and Tymrak instead of Abby and Alex to give an example.

          • newsouth

            No one will bring a full squad to AC other than Pia. And if Pia defeats them, it’s just she knew the team. they’d roll that under the table. outside of that germany, japan and others will bring test teams to the Vacation Cup.

          • Reality

            If the NT continues with Sunhage’s strategies, she will definitely “know” the team.

          • newsouth

            to be honest i think they will go into the WC without a lost, think germany and japan will not play full squads against them in hopes of catching them off guard in the WC. they will be under ridiculous with a 2 year undefeated streak. I think France will bring it for the friendlies but I can see more than a tie unless they move thomis to RB. and as i’ve said, if herdman caps courtnall this year, she’ll vaporize morgan and sydney’s runs. i still have germany as the favorite. angerer will play the next two seasons in the nwsl and gauge all 4 forwards for tendencies and pass those to her back-line.

          • Reality

            If it takes a loss or two to wake up the NT, then I would like to see it happen now before the WC, hopefully in the Algarve if they play the same old lineup. But, as you say, it is an unlikely outcome and we will go into the WC ripe to be upset.

          • Steglitz49

            AC as in AC DC?

          • NYRick

            I think that the US would rather take a WC15 even 4th place finish or so, than to not play the “popular” names on such a big stage as the WC. Women’s soccer as I am more and more beginning to understand as I follow it closely, is a complex fringe type of sport for US fans. So from the USSF standpoint player popularity and name recognition are far more important and outweigh all else. Hence, Abby and Alex must start and play 90 in every home match no matter the competition. I can’t figure out the Alex phenomenon, it is really nothing ever seen before in this country. She owns the sport as much as LeBron owns basketball. It’s astounding really. I do think the USSF would view losing her for the WC as being far more catastrophic than losing the WC on the field in general.

            I don’t think the USSF would view a WC loss in any capacity as devastating, because they would rationalize that they would get the same amount of people in the stands at home US friendlies leading to OG16 which they can promote continuously on NBC sports. As for the NWSL, it would certainly be safe to at least 2017 due to OG16. By then, it could have some firm ground with more MLS co-team support and a Cali team base as well.

          • guest

            Please. Let’s not get carried away here. Morgan does not own women’s footy near like LeBron owns basketball. LBJ did his time, and Morgan will have to too, if she can last that long. Her rise in the last two years has been meteoric but she does not have power in this game. She is wildly popular, but she does not have power. Those are distinctly different. For instance, Wambach has much more power than Morgan, even if she (Wambach) has less popularity.

          • NYRick

            You’ve made my point though. She does “own” the sport without fully doing the time. It is crazy, but it’s true.

            As for more power, I respectfully disagree. I say Alex has more power “in the sport.” Wambach may have more power “on the US team.” Those are distinctly different.

          • guest

            Well, Abby definitely has more power on the US team. That’s unquestionable. Morgan is beginning to realize the power she has; she is not the bubbly little girl she was back in 2011 anymore. And to be honest, I miss the old Morgan. Anyways, Morgan is a wholesaler like Ronald Reagan while Abby is a retailer like Lyndon Johnson, to bring in US political analogies. On the outset, Morgan looks to be more powerful, and in some ways she is. But Wambach has been around the sport long enough, and her retail game is strong. Very strong.

          • NYRick

            I like your political analogy very much. But with it, at it’s heart, Ronald Regan was an actor (photogenic, looks on their side, sound like any woman soccer player we know?), and is remembered as the more beloved, popular president. Much like Alex will be remembered with US soccer even if her final career stats don’t ever get near Abby’s.

          • Reality

            Winning is an overwhelming factor in American sports. It is the be all end all of competition in our culture. If the NT was no longer a winner, it’s popularity would decline outside of the hard core and with it, the star power of its athletes. Even ties are unacceptable. From a corporate point of view, winning and celebrity go hand in hand. These companies are not going to promote losers no matter how attractive they may be. If the monies are not there from sponsors, the USSF would definitely pay attention.

            This is one of the reasons Sermanni, while being willing to experiment a bit, will not take any risks where he might not win. So the key here is for him and his masters to realize they will not win all the time in the future with the current status quo.

          • NYRick

            You make excellent points as always, and I agree with what you are saying for the most part. I do think however that the USWNT is kind of “developing” into an anomaly to the rule you outline. I think in our age of social media, celebrity is all that matters. Yes, winning is important, but celebrity far overrides that now in American culture. Tom Brady hasn’t won a SB in 10 years, but his celebrity is bigger now than when he was winning SBs. Alex doesn’t not have to do one single more thing in the sport of women’s soccer her whole career, and her celebrity and endorsements would be just as great, I think, in 2016, as they are right now.

            It’s a shift that’s happening globally. America is no longer concerned with exceptionalism, but instead “being a good sport or one of the guys.” Maybe our president and his policies have something to do with that, but I don’t want to get on a political tangent on this. Point is, I think what you saying is absolutely correct, however, as I think Bob Dylan once said, “The times, they be a changing.” And that pertains to America’s number one distraction, professional sports. It’s why a dork and really a nimrod like JR Smith can dominate the back pages of the NY Daily News. And it’s why people even care to hear even a sentence more about a fraud druggie like baseball ARod. It’s not about winning anymore. It’s about celebrity first and foremost, and what have you done today to make me talk about you.

          • Reality

            You describe a phenomenon that is all too true regarding what is considered newsworthy. However, there is celebrity and there is notoriety which may sell media but does not earn respect. The question becomes what kind of publicity will earn that respect. Sponsors want a high profile but for the right reasons and always wish to associate themselves with those who are considered winners. Follow the money not the media.

            As for Sermanni, he can make the excuse that he was only following orders, but like all coaches, he will be the first to be sacrificed.

            Professional sports is all about big money and women’s soccer is not even close to the astronomical realm of NFL football. For a variety of reasons, they, like all women have to be 2-3 times as good as men to prove themselves worthy of investment. They must win big and be pure at the same time…a virtual oxymoron in our society.

          • Steglitz49

            Were Alex to retire this season on account of being hurt, she will keep her status. But, if she plays on and plays badly, she will be toast. You can’t fool the American people and women soccer players are more under the microscope than American golfers.

            The US were trounced in the Solheim cup. Made to look idiots. Are we reminded of that? No. But, should the USWNT fail to win the World Cup it will be curtains for the NWSL.

            Were I Alex, I would plan my exit strategy now. Have a talk to Jessica Ennis (not Rossi) or Gold-Lena.

          • NYRick

            Let me put it one other way, if you go to LV with Sermanni, I guarantee he is sitting at the 25 cent one-arm bandits all night with the blue crowd, and no where near the Black Jack or roulette tables. That’s how he’ll play it all the way to WC15. Think about it, if he loses, he wins. He can just say I played the sure thing and the one you (USSF) wanted me to play to the end.

          • treehill

            The assumption that veteran stars have to play 90 every game to draw fans is flawed, and is just used to let USSF off the hook.

            C’mon do people seriously believe that fans watching on TV who see Abby come off the bench a few times are going to boycott when the team comes to town? Remember: the USWNT goes city to city, it is not a club team that plays in one stadium. They don’t have to worry about season ticket holders getting upset because they went to several games and never saw Abby. Girls are not going to say “OMG where’s Abby! Sydney and Christen are so BORING. We’re not going when they come here! #BOYCOTTUSWNT”

            No one’s saying lock Abby in a box and hide her. (Yes, that would impact fan response.) It’s just bring her off the bench a few more times.

            It’s one of those B.S. assumptions that gets blindly swallowed because blame can be put on fans, instead of acknowledging that there is veteran politicking going on.

          • Steglitz49

            You type that “I can’t figure out the Alex phenomenon”, a strange comment for a free person to make. It is pretty obvious, really. Who else is there who is American?

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            All this talk about NWSL performance. The best players (with the exception of Holiday) were very much veterans.

          • guest

            Holiday is a semi-veteran. She’s been around for a while now.

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe being married agrees with her?

          • NYRick

            Tymrak and Franch had outstanding NWSL seasons but are an afterthought on the US team. Dunn will be outstanding this year.

          • Reality

            I was referring to a theoretical scenario in the coming season. (also NYRick & guest below made pertinent points)

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            That’s convenient.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            No respectable head coach is going to vote for their own player when no one else will. Regardless of what they do or don’t think.

            Very few head coaches get to the point where they can eclipse that, and as far as soccer goes they probably all manage English teams. Sermanni’s is no where near that point.

          • NYRick

            Agree. My point was that he would never vote for Holiday over Abby last year under any circumstances. To me, that’s political. That’s all, but I understand it.

          • guest

            Come on. POTY is BS politics. No way any US person doesn’t vote Wambach. He would have been crucified for listing Holiday over Wambach. Dude is saving his own skin.

          • NYRick

            Agree.

          • NYRick

            Pia’s core of Wambach, Lloyd, Boxx (she’ll be a starter at WC15, just watch), HAO (to run down the wing as fast as she can and get an entry ball into the box for Abby), Rampone (who should call it a day on the NT before WC15 and turn the key defending over to Engen and Brunn), and last but not least, pray that Alex is healthy (with no lingering ankle problems) and can save their butts with a late winner.

          • Steglitz49

            Pia’s happy campers won 2 Olympic golds, one of which without Abby, and they reached the World Cup Final. Not a bad facit all things considered.

            TS’s misfortune is that he starts with the World Cup, immediately followed by the Olympics — and both are in the US time-zone. Nowhere to hide; nowhere to run. Let’s trust that the NT does the needful!

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            ers Are you *seriously* trying to say Jim Harbough is a good coach? Maybe you didn’t see what a good QB head coach can do with Alex Smith. Benching him (and still giving him the captain’s patch – wtf) is about as moronic as it comes – Especially in hindsight.

            All the success the 49ers have had is in spite of their head coach. Not because of him.

          • NYRick

            So what you’re saying is that Jim Harbough is not a good coach, correct? Three years, three straight NFC title games, one SB appearance and maybe another in a few days. Mind you coming to a franchise that had been on the downslide for nearly a decade. Plus, he’s one of the youngest coaches in the league too. I would pretty much say it’s a safe bet that any team in the NFL would take him in a heartbeat if he was available.

            As for Kapernick/A. Smith. Simply ask any NFL defensive coordinator who he would rather face? This discussion was bought up in terms of TS. I’ll know more this year, but I view him as a play it safe, don’t rock the boat, not gonna ruin or tamper with my dream gig type of coach. He would have never made the move Harbough made. In fact, not many coaches would have. Too risky. That’s what separates the great ones.

          • http://www.phasedma.com Anthony

            Like I said. When you have a captain on the bench in the Super Bowl it sends the message “I have no idea what I’m doing”.

          • guest

            Ha Harbough is def a tool, but he’s turned that franchise around. Though Kapernick has struggled some with the read option this year. Sermanni doesn’t seem like the Harbough type to me. He’s a bit like Pia. Upbeat and play it safe. No cajones.

        • treehill

          Sorry the “unavailability” argument doesn’t hold up. First, it still makes Sermanni look bad. It’s saying that he limited the roster so much that if one or two players was missing he was “forced” to play the same players over and over. For instance the assumption is that the only possible wing players were HAO, Heath, and Rapinoe, so if one of the latter was missing HAO “had” to start. If it’s true, it’s really bad management. Why was he not bringing in other wing players?

          In fact, there were always other options, and “unavailability” is hazy and revisionist memory. There were several games where Heath & Rapinoe were available and HAO still started. In the rare games where HAO didn’t start, Heath & Rapinoe didn’t always start. So there’s no correlation. Lloyd, Holiday, and especially Wambach were definitey not a case of “unavailability”.

  • wosofan

    Surely the match in which Georgia native Morgan Brian gets her first start for the USWNT. I like the sound of that. I don’t like the team playing in massive domes meant for American football. They should’ve returned to KSU stadium, sold the thing out, and created a great fan experience for all. Instead, the massive Georgia Dome. I guess Sunil has to squeeze out every last dollar from these friendlies.

    • chilly

      KSU in Feb. Sounds FANstastic.

      • TsovLoj

        Minnesota here. Really don’t see what’s too harsh about Kansas in February.

    • Misery
      • treehill

        For those that were confused like me, the Georgia Dome is not retractable, this is a rendering of a proposed new stadium.

  • Tom F

    Germany beat Russia 9-0 in their 1st world cup qualifying game, last Sep.. The Russkies did a pretty good accounting for themselves until about the 22 minute when things started to fall apart. The game was saved on youtube
    1st half
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEoCRYulxwk
    2nd half
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6SK2TVUfc4

    • NYRick

      I’m trying to gauge if you’re being sarcastic or not. They made “a pretty good accounting for themselves until the 22nd minute.” LOL. Then, they lost 9-zip. That’s like watching an American football game and saying, “well, the first quarter was 0-0, then they lost 56-0.”

    • newsouth

      ok, i thought the 2nd vid was the 2nd half, lol, so i was thinking they scored 6 goals in the last 22 mins. anyway, usa is more offensively potent mins wambach than germany, but i think sermanni will call the dogs off before he let a game get out of hand like this. unlike pia he has stayed away from double digit games which a couple of teams on their tomato can schedule last season he could have really blown out.

  • Pressured

    NYR, At least we have Chicago. That’s something to be happy about. So is Seattle.