Meet the US World Cup team: Forwards

Dan Lauletta June 4, 2015 184

After the United States drubbed Mexico to qualify for the World Cup, Mexico coach Leo Cuellar remarked that the United States had enough forwards to fill out starting lineups for three teams.  Here are the five Jill Ellis took with her to Canada.

Abby Wambach

Abby Wambach, who turned 35 on Tuesday, has been the face of American women’s soccer since the core of the 99ers retired after the 2004 Olympics.  She has done it all—Olympic gold medals, a club championship, and more international goals than anyone who has ever played—except win a World Cup.  Her dramatic, stoppage-time header against Brazil in 2011 stands as one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the tournament, but it was not enough to boost the United States to the title.  Recent years have seen Wambach dogged by suggestions she has slowed down too much to be considered part of the core of the U.S. team.  Her exact role remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Wambach can still score goals in the right situation, and that she is willing to put herself on the line to bring home a World Cup.

Alex Morgan

Alex Morgan arrives in Canada with questions about her health.  A bruise on her left knee forced Morgan to miss the final three matches in the run-up to what will be her second World Cup.  Morgan did participate in the United States’ first training in Winnipeg on Wednesday, but coach Jill Ellis has said the team will have to monitor her minutes early in the tournament.  Morgan’s health and affectiveness could be considered a key to the United States wading through the deeper waters of the tournament.  She has a nose for scoring important goals, none bigger than her last-minute header to beat Canada in the extraordinary 2012 Olympic final.

Sydney Leroux

The Canadian neutrals are not particularly likely to be rooting for the United States but they will be especially rooting against Sydney Leroux.  A Surrey, British Columbia native, Leroux was a Canadian youth player before eschewing a chance to be a major building block in order to pursue a place in the United States team.  She made it and is a likely starter at least until Morgan is fully fit.  Canadian fans have not forgiven Leroux for playing for the U.S.  Two years ago she was viciously booed throughout a U.S.-Canada friendly in Toronto.  She responded by scoring a goal and then pointing to the crest on her U.S. jersey.  If she responds with more goals on this trip to Canada it will greatly enhance the chances of a United States victory party.

Amy Rodriguez

Affectionately known as A-Rod, Amy Rodriguez is one of the comeback stories on this team.  It is not only that she missed significant time to give birth, but rather that it looked like she might have been finished at the international level even before taking maternity leave.  But Rodriguez committed herself and enjoyed a marvelous 2014 season with FC Kansas City capped by scoring both goals in the final.  For now she is on the short list of players whose national team credentials have been enhanced by NWSL.  Recent matches suggest Rodriguez will not be part of the regular rotation, but she barely needs a touch to make an impact on any match.

Christen Press

A forward on the official team sheet, Christen Press is likely to find herself in midfield where she will be called on to create for others as well as score.  But if Morgan is not a starter and assuming Wambach is not going to start every match, Press could find herself at striker at some point during the World Cup.  A Tom Sermanni-era debut player, Press has quickly risen through the ranks in a competitive group of attacking personalities.  At 26 she has pretty much mastered the club game and could be poised for a breakout on the international stage.

  • Stay Pressed

    Leroux has been sh*te for 2 years.
    Wambach only scores easy goals against weak teams.
    Morgan is injured.
    A-Rod is always much better for her club teams than for the NT.
    and Press is being used as a midfielder….

    If only *coughs* Lindsey *coughs* they had *coughs* Horan *coughs* other options…

    • Tom F

      With Morgan almost out of the mix, the US finds itself oddly out as far as the top quality forwards. But keep in mind that we probably have the best 4 back line and my book, an incredible strong if not underrated midfield as long the starters are Press, Lloyd, Holiday & Pinoe.
      If you look at Germany’s men’s team, for a very long time they’ve been playing with zero world class forwards, I remember right after the 2010 WC, their two top fwds, Gomez & Klose were sitting on the bench most of the time for Bayern Munich, scoring like q goal each for the entire BUND season. So it kinda proves you don;t have to have the worlds best fwds to win the WC.

      Despite it;s problems,I still feel the US still boasts the best 11 starters in the world, Substitute choices for the NT is another thing though and not having the super subs might be the reason why, if the US don’t win the tourney

      • DeepLyingAttacker

        Although Klose has been less prolific at club level compare to WC, he’s always been a reliable scorer. Germany is a success in the WC not because they have the best players in the world but because they have a good system, that comes from a good program, they choose players and coaches that would fit in the system, just like what they do at Barca, Ajax and Manchester United (before van Gaal). I couldn’t say the same with the US women’s team, they rely mostly on their talented players, it’s not bad, the US has abundance of talented players, that makes it difficult to select, a lot of valid opinions, which one should or shouldn’t be included, now if only, the US team have a good system, with abundance of talent they’re gonna be winning this thing every four years.

        • ARED

          Well said. Suarez, Neymar, and Messi are each amazing, but many were convinced they couldn’t work in the same team b/c they assumed they would play like CR or Zlatan, where they need to hold the ball and refuse to play a “pass-first” game.

          But at Barca, everyone plays the system, and everyone passes -on time and accurately. That can be the difference between being pretty good and pretty great, and I’m not sure the US Women have had a system make the most of their talent for quite a few years -as you say.

      • ARED

        I hinted elsewhere, but while I think the starting 11 and starting midfield specifically could and should be the best in the world, the selections and system used simply prevent that from being realized.

        Their midfield was just dominated by South Korea, and they have been thwarted by Ireland and Iceland in recent months. France played them off the park on turf (albeit in France). The USA midfield as it is currently set up is a mess, especially considering the heights the could have reached.

        I do agree the back four is strong, and the forwards will produce if they are healthy and the midfield plays well. But again, that is the problem I see. So instead, they will send balls into the box or Lloyd will fire away from distance, and they’ll see what happens.

    • ARED

      So which forwards in the world are better than Leroux, Morgan (even less than her best), and A-Rod? Even without Press (who should be starting at forward), i’m not sure of too many nations who wouldn’t be thrilled to lineup any one of those three…..

      (Although presumably you think Hagen is better than Leroux?)….

      • Steglitz49

        We will know on July 5th.

        • ARED

          Or we will know that France or Germany’s midfield was good enough to make it a moot point.

      • Calci0

        Since I don’t want to respond directly. I’d like to point out Horan is recovering from an injury. And she didn’t even play in the CL final with PSG…………

        • ARED

          Thanks (and oops for my typo). For me she’s too young to have a full read on as far as her long term prospects, but I do know that I think it’s pretty far fetched to justify her as better than than even Wambach right now (who I consider the weakest of the strikers on the US squad).

        • Stay Pressed

          Are we gonna pretend her injury is the reason she doesn’t get called up? lol

          • Calci0

            She has been called into camp though. Just like Stengal has and Hagen.

          • Stay Pressed

            By Sermanni. Ellis told her she wasn’t gonna get called up unless she moved to the NWSL.

            -edit-
            Hagen and Stengel aren’t on Horan’s level btw.

          • Calci0

            Both put away a good amount of goals in Germany…….. And please link where Ellis said that… Ellis stated to my knowledge she would prefer all her players to play close to home. No different than other countries.

      • Stay Pressed

        I don’t THINK Horan is better than Leroux, I’ve seen her play often enough to KNOW she’s better than Leroux, Wambach AND Rodriquez.

        Listing strikers that are better than Leroux, would take me all day, and since I’m at work, I can’t be bothered. I’ll give you a few names though, maybe you can google them:
        Schelin, Sasic, Asllani, Mittag, Miedema, Popp, Martens (winger), Thiney, Hegerberg, Le Sommer (technically an CAM, but unlike Leroux she scores easily), Melis (winger), Harder.

        • ARED

          Right, so you really don’t like Leroux…lol. No clarification of whether you’re actually calling for the USA to use Horan. I say while she is good, her struggles at the U-20 level just might suggest she’s not ready for the senior WC, especially given the players in front of her. I do agree she’d be better than Wambach however, b/c while she might struggle with speed of play or create any chances (like Wambach), she’d at least play for the team and can complete a pass….

          As for listing strikers, well, Leroux is a specific style of player who would not fit as well as some in certain roles/teams around the world. But you are being quite harsh on her for me. I think the list of national teams who wouldn’t be thrilled to have her is very short (Germany, France, and done).

          • Stay Pressed

            Her struggle at the U20 level? You mean that time when people expected her to perform some sort of miracle even though that roster was Jill Ellis levels of horrible?
            I don’t think scoring 24 times in 26 games is considered struggling btw.

            But, here’s your clarification: once the USA gets a good coach, Horan WILL BE called up, and I will be 100% on board with that.

            Leroux’ “specific style” is running at teams that have already been tired out by the starters… I mean… I guess that’s a “style”…

          • ARED

            Yes, Horan looks good. But it just seems you are a bit overeager to me in your praise of Horan’s current ability to play at the WC level, esp compared to your apparent disdain for Leroux. (I am not attacking Horan, but her play in 2014 -despite the roster and naive manager, and scoring 3 goals- did not seem ready for a senior WC, but obviously you disagree).

            Morgan only could score as a sub for a long time. Then she got to play a bigger role and she developed into a world class player (even if it was short-lived). Leroux has done plenty to deserve to be on the team, especially in relation to the opportunities given. I agree that Wambach’s time is long past, and while A-Rod offers a solid option it’s nothing too special and so wouldn’t disagree that Horan might’ve deserved that roster spot. But to consider her top choice above Morgan, Press, or yes, even Leroux, just seems premature.

            It hardly matters though, as no striker will perform well if the midfield is a mess, and the USA has been having that problem for the better part of Ellis’ tenure.

          • Stay Pressed

            I don’t rate Horan above Press tbh (and never said I did). I think they would do well together, cause they’re so different. They both bring something to the team their other strikers can’t.
            Also don’t recall saying I think she’s better than (a healthy) Morgan, but she’s certainly better than an injured one).
            Leroux can’t even perform in the NWSL though. Not even when she was playing with a quality midfiel in Seattle.

            Btw Horan’s “play in 2014” was excellent when she wasn’t bothered by her injury. Take it from someone who visits PSG games.

            This is my last post on this topic btw, cause, no offense, you don’t know enough about Horan to be having this discussion.

          • ARED

            This is my last post, b/c, no offense, you seem intent on being overly harsh on certain players but intentionally vague on others when it suits you. (While basing your final reply on being cute in telling me how you didn’t actually come out and say X or Y….which yeah, I noticed….).

            I assumed by your name you may value Press, but your original post listed the flaws of all forward options (with an asterisk for Press), implying you don’t approve, thus the desperate need for Horan.

            I know “enough about Horan” to know that if you took Morgan, Press, Leroux, and ARod out of the US system, she’d give them a decent player to field in Canada, one that many nations would be glad to have. But she’s slower than all of them (both foot speed and speed of play), and while someday the US may progress their play, right now we all know you better be able to create for yourself and chase balls over top (and cover the space that Abby can’t).

            Alex Morgan couldn’t even get a start in 2011 when she was clearly deserving and seemingly a best-in-a-generation player. Even if Horan had matched that promise (which for me she hasn’t in a US shirt), it just seems to be an outlying item to be focused on at this point.

            Clearly you value club performance and European strikers (and PSG). So do I. But I also know that international play is different, especially at the WC level. Sasic sure, but Aslani? I also know that while Leroux’s goal total was meager for one season, she was a player in a successful team -so who cares if she’s scoring? A good 4-3-3 shares the goals anyway. And, nevermind being 2nd in NWSL goal scoring the year before (which according to you, she was S%*^$) to match her goal-every-other-game record that she holds for the US team -playing largely as a sub. Her goals-per-minute stats speak pretty strongly in her favor. (Esp if the roster spot is for an impact player and likely sub).

            I find it odd to be defending Leroux, but I see no need to single her out under the assumption that the grass is greener with the 21 yr old Horan. (And Morgan at even 70% is better for me, but that’s neither here nor there really…..)

  • Reality

    I think it is quite clear at this point that the WWC2015 is, for the USNWT veterans, all about redemption for the loss in 2011. More specifically, it has fully revealed itself as the Wambach “Cementing Her Legacy” campaign with the “Hopeful Savior” role played by Morgan. It didn’t work before but, four years later; it’s supposed to work now. I presume that the new assumption is that Leroux can support Wambach when Morgan is not playing at the forward position. Rodriguez will fill in to relieve them when the game is either in or out of control and Press will play out of position in the mid-field to feed the front line. Rapinoe will be a key factor in crossing to Wambach’s head and Lloyd can always be counted on to move forward and fire at the goal if all else fails.

    This plan has been a forgone conclusion since Ellis came on board and many of us have remarked on its inevitability. With all the injuries that Germany has sustained and France still needing to prove itself in the clutch, we may stumble to victory. But there are many other variables operating here and any prognostications are fungible at best. If nothing else, it will be exciting to watch the drama as it unfolds.

    • Steglitz49

      FIFA having cooked the draw, the USNT has no excuse for not winning.

      • Reality

        You’re surely not insinuating that FIFA would be capable of such a nefarious action and Blatter would never approve of it. 😉

        • ARED

          Blatter would have to be aware of both Women’s Soccer and Canada for that to be true, so I’m actually gonna have to say this shadiness was courtesy of a minion, or an accounant….

    • Breakers fan

      Calling Morgan a “savior” is implying that everyone else will fail to score goals and that that is ok and expected. Puts a lot of onus on Alex. But if she doesn’t it’s a failure. Not the right narrative in terms of fact or fiction.

      • Reality

        I was referring to the expectations of various commentators here, some of the media analysts and of course her fans.

        • Breakers fan

          What’s your storyline going in? How does it differ from what you wrote above? I am with you in hoping that C.P. gets time at forward and that that is her natural position. That said, I like how well she’s adapted to playing midfield – the mark of a great player, that ability to adapt and learn.

          • Reality

            I think I have made it abundantly clear in my comments over the past 2 years that I thought that the NT was relying excessively on the veteran players and a direct style of play. New players with more technical skills have not been given adequate opportunity to break into the roster and the NT has not cultivated a more diversified game that incorporates solid possession, good combinations with one touch passing and an appropriate utilization of their players. The reasons for this have been endlessly debated but the bottom line is that we are now committed to going into WC2015 with essentially a similar lineup and strategy as in 2011. The veterans must have their last hurrah regardless of whether it is in the best interests of the NT for now or for future development.

          • Breakers fan

            Thank you. My comments over the last year have had a similar bent. May all doubters, you and I included, be proven wrong. I think we can toast to that.
            Just out of curiosity, if you care to provide them, who is on your list of “new players with more technical skills” who “have not been given adequate opportunity to break into the roster”?

          • Reality

            Crystal Dunn immediately springs to mind as someone who has been given a look but not a real opportunity. We have a system here in the U.S. where, in order to make the Senior NT, one must rise through the ranks of the U20 and U23. However, players often languish there and never get a call-up because of the constipation at the top. For example. we have Rose Lavelle, Cari Roccaro, and Andi Sullivan on the U23 who should be given a good look. What disturbs me is that given our country’s enormous talent pool, I’m sure that many college players are overlooked who have the kind of skills that would serve us well. The question becomes what kind of talent is the USNWT looking for as they scout? Is it physical and fast or players who have more sophisticated skills?

          • Breakers fan

            Big fan here too of Dunn and Lavelle – really liked her the first time I saw her play a year or so ago. Don’t know enough about Roccaro. Saw Sullivan a few times with the national U-20 team and with Stanford – didn’t stand out to me, but that’s a way too small sample size, so I withhold any real opinion. about her. For technical skills in young players who haven’t gotten an NT look yet, I’d add Chioma Ubogagu. You’re right that for now, for this WC, they didn’t have the most open of minds about the roster. Whether or how misguided that approach is we’ll soon learn.

          • atalba

            Dunn and Lavelle are top players. There’s so much talk about the mistake the NT made by not picking Dunn. My take is she had 2 years being injury prone, and hasn’t played consistently, without being injured. One season/year without being out because of injury will change that. Chi had her chance at the YNT level. She’s an exciting player. It just seems she checks out during games, which “appears” to be an indication of being lazy. She’s a lefty, and she’s dangerous. When she turns it on, nobody’s stopping her. She has options with 3 countries, and is playing in the UK, so we’ll likely see her at the top level. I think you haven’t seen enough of AndiS. While she came into the NCAA season as the number #1 recruit, she finished as the #1 freshman, and it’s not hype. In my opinion, she’s the best college player, all positions, period. She’s that good. As a DM, she is definitely moving from the U23 NT to the senior team just as soon as this round of play is over.

          • Steglitz49

            Chioma Ubogagau played for the US in the U23 tournament just now in Norway where she acquitted herself with honors. Whether she will make the senior squad I don’t know.

            Meanwhile, the U20s were destroyed by Japan the other day. Granted, not as awful as 8-1 in ’81 was for Canada but nto good either.

            What was your point again?

          • atalba

            She was not impressive her junior year (3 goals), and missed out on some call-ups. A much better senior season, but still doesn’t have the eye of many. I hope she did well on the u23 team, but I think she’s still being overlooked. I expect her to be playing somewhere at the top level of pro futbal, and on someone’s NT.

          • Steglitz49

            Having played for the US at U23 in an international tournament, I am not sure how easy it is for her to play for another nation.

          • atalba

            1 senior cap determines that.

          • Steglitz49

            If the young lady wanted to play for another country, why isn’t she? There is Nigeria and England for her to chose from.

          • atalba

            She’s from Texas. I’m sure her first choice is US. Give her a chance. If she doesn’t get a look, someone else will take her. I think she was picked in the 3rd or 4th round in the NWSL; meaning she has to prove some prominent people wrong before that happens.

          • Steglitz49

            She joined Arsenal, didn’t she? Or some club in the FAWSL.

          • atalba

            Yes.

          • Steglitz49

            She risks ending up like amber Brooks. Should have followed Stengel’s lead, who also played in that U23 tournament.

          • mockmook

            How can you be so certain re: Andi — JE has shown no interest in any DM except Boxx.

          • atalba

            JE? Will she be back?

          • mockmook

            I hope so, because that will mean the USA will have won the WWC 2015. Only a flame out gets rid of JE — best in the long run, but would be really painful to watch.

          • atalba

            She’s a very good coach. She has been developing our young players for quite some time. She may have not had enough time to formulate the senior team with the philosophy, formation, and style she prefers. It’s unfortunate, but, again, she must win, or she’s out. And with any good coach, you adapt your system to suit your best players. DM will become a focal point soon!

          • mockmook

            How long did it take Andonovski to stamp his style on FCKC?

            JE is a terrible coach:

            — Selects personnel based on past accomplishments, not current form
            — Chooses a roster that has little to no flexibility in style of play
            — Shoehorns players into her system, not adapting system to players
            — Positions players so weaknesses are greatest, strengths are quashed
            — Almost entirely ignores defense in favor of offense
            — Has utterly failed to create a midfield that links/connects the lines

          • atalba

            He didn’t have the luxury/burden of selecting a team from 95% of the players from the league, 50+ capable college players, and 50+ quality players playing abroad. I’d say it should be more of a process to develop the senior team, but you’re given less time. Having said that, you could be right. We will see.

          • mockmook

            — She only dropped 6 players from the roster she inherited.
            — She only added 5 (one was a healthy Alex Morgan, a no-brainer).
            — She was already well acquainted with the players available; as you mention, that was part of her resume.
            — Ando had never coached or scouted pro or college woso players
            — Ando put together his team in 4 months, by 6 months they were a machine. JE has had over a year to muddle her squad.

          • Breakers fan

            Encouraging to see your feelings about Andi Sullivan. Sounds like you’ve seen her play a lot. I look forward to seeing more of her. Chi -yes, I know about her 3 options. and how currently she has chosen to play for Aresnal over Sky Blue. I hope the U.S. gives her a shot, but our forward position is a bit on the crowded side. I just think she offers things others don’t so much. What you say about possible laziness is concerning, though it’s not something I’ve noticed. But again, maybe you live out near Stanford and have seen her play a lot more than I have.

          • atalba

            I like to watch Chi play. She is so good on the ball. I think there might be a perception that when not on the ball, she’s not moving enough. There has to be a reason for not being considered one of the top strikers.

          • Breakers fan

            “There has to be a reason she’s not considered one of the top strikers”….. *if* you feel scouts are basically always right. That said, she was just chosen for the U.S. u-23 team, wasn’t she? So it looks like she is still being considered seriously. I’m glad to hear that in you there’s another fan of hers here.

          • ARED

            I agree, although aside from Dunn I don’t think the U-23’s were ready to be involved for this WC. Well, Lavelle would be an upgrade over one midfielder in my mind, but I digress….

            I stated above, and really believe that it’s not a major overhaul that is needed -it’s just being fair and decisive when younger players are better than older ones. There are 4 players on the current roster who really shouldn’t be (Wambach, Boxx, Chalupny, and Rampone) and that doesn’t include Lloyd but perhaps it should. That allows the other current (and better) players to run the current team, while adding role players like Long or Averbuch and young players like (Brian), Dunn, Tymrak/Ohai, and maybe even a 20-year old like Lavelle.

            I agree there is a massive pool and it is hard to catch every player, but in the US the women’s path is actually clearer and easier than the men’s at this point. The NCAA route is effective whether you are the star at the powerhouse school like Brian, or the under-the-radar Groom, you can develop and make a mark over 4 years. And it’s not hard (or shouldn’t be) for US Soccer to get plenty of them into national camps.

          • Breakers fan

            We need, and I hope we have, a few really insightful, good scouts of talent on the NT staff whose views are given real weight, influence. They need to have some say, and as you and Reality have been saying, in general the Program needs to broaden its field of vision. It can’t have absolute age limits. You can find players in the college level and at the NWSL level, maybe even the Senior year of high school, and the women don’t have to be familiar names.

          • ARED

            And to be fair, I think there are a fair amount -and seemingly a growing amount -of people in the game who are looking for the right kind of players. Lavelle is a decent example. She’s small, creative, and a pass-first player. Exactly the kind who is often overlooked in the US (Men’s and Women’s). Yet she was valued by both Wisconsin and US Soccer enough to make the teams.

            So I don’t think identifying enough talented players will be the problem. I think sorting out the senior level team (and management) is the biggest snare right now (and for the past 12 years).

          • Breakers fan

            I hope you’re right – that we’re on the right track. You may know more about this than I do – who’s guiding the younger ranks, and how good they are at scouting. Soon there will be a pool of women, ages 18 to say 27, women not on the team currently. The job will be to pick from among the group the approximately 6-12 best new players for our team. I hope we can do that. It’s going to take time, it’ll be a work in progress. We can get antsy as fans, but this process takes a while to get established.

          • ARED

            Yes, I think you’re right -it’s about finding the right ones to add to the existing group. But while I have many reservations about American coaches and talent scouts (starting at the very top!), I really do feel with the base of the NCAA, the expanding youth national programs, and the NWSL (seems to be stable, and offers post-college and non-college players further development), that there are more chances than ever to find players.

            In the future the question may arise as to whether you can kick aside the NCAA and have players go directly to academies for the NWSL clubs (which don’t currently exist) and maybe develop some sort of reserve league as well. The MLS at age 20 is just getting to that point, and the foreign clubs who do that are subsidized by men’s clubs or rich owners, so I think for now the US system is on the right track.

          • Steglitz49

            It would be a black day for ladies in the US when the NCAA gets supplanted unless it is because even better lasses come up outside of the varsities.

          • ARED

            That’s what I mean -as with MLS now, where there are finally the beginnings of pathways to the pro ranks (which could then lead to the NT) without having to play the weird NCAA rules, spend half the year not playing, and not really develop during the key formative years of 18-22.

            You love the NCAA for giving you something that say Colombia or New Zealand would love to have -which is a quasi-pro-league, that you could support otherwise. But, the ideal is to have a pro league with clubs (who have huge incentive to avoid any politics or messing around) identifying players who will be great when they are 22-32, not just the biggest/fastest/strongest 19 year olds who can help you win a Big-10 championship.

            But, the USA is nowhere near that for WoSo, so let’s leave at that for now….

          • atalba

            What a ridiculous comment, starting with men. Soccer for guys in the US is far from a sport with top athletes from the US. For women, NCAA soccer is the top spot for all young female athletes….athletes. Our women’s soccer is world class. Sure, other countries are catching up, which is great. Look at many of the teams that will be competing in the WWC2015; they all have TOP players that developed their craft in the NCAA. This may change, but, for now, there isn’t a better brand of soccer for u20 women in the world.

          • ARED

            I’m not sure I understand your cause for disagreement. Steg said “unless it is because even better lasses come up outside of the varsities”, and I said “That’s what I mean”.

            The NCAA is not a good path for men’s soccer in the USA. They are miles behind the established methods of Europe and South America. The coached IDing players are bad, politics and friendships play too large a role, and college coaches care more about winning 1-0 than they do about developing a player for the national team. But, they are making huge progress.

            The women are nowhere near that point, as I said. 17 years behind MLS, and you can’t expect their progress to move at the same speed or success rate anyway.

            My comments throughout have stated that right now the NCAA program allows great opportunity for girls to be found, developed, and then ID’d by US Soccer to take part in a growing amount of youth programming.

            So I’m really not sure what you find so ridiculous, aside from my comments being long and perhaps not wanting to read them?

          • Steglitz49

            Tell her about the history of the Teddy bear and the Grand Canyon.

          • atalba

            spend half the year not playing, and not really develop during the key formative years of 18-22.

          • Steglitz49

            What is your model? Yes, teams like Frankfurt, Lyon, Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg, PSG can spend in excess of $1 million on players salaries but most teams in Europe can’t. Some are lucky to spend $100k per year.

          • ARED

            It’s pretty well established that in the men’s game, the NCAA does not provide a 1) Good 2) Structured or 3) Unbiased platform for players to develop, if they can even get onto a college team. Some do, but a lot don’t.

            Why do you think Gedion Zelalem went running to Arsenal the second it was offered? B/c you’re better off with a good pro club who is investing in you and your future, who has a track record of success, and let’s you immediately train and play with pro players.

            And again, for the women, as I’ve said repeatedly, things are quite different at this stage.

          • atalba

            Well, my comments are in regards to the women. The men have a totally different problem. They’re picking young male players from the crop of athletes that will either play lacrosse, tennis, soccer, or bowling. Sure there are some athletes in the bunch, just like Sweden has athletes in their crop of young boys (merely a comparison to the crop available in the US). For women, the NCAA is the best development league in the world. It could be better, way better, but not include a better crop of world-class athletes. If this is your point as well, then sorry for piling on. I hate any comparison of woso with US men. Go Warriors!

          • ARED

            A few of us had an established discussion where I had detailed how the NCAA – to -US camps/youth teams, and/or NWSL, is a very effective pathway for the women, and it became relevant to mention the differences for the men. Perhaps in 10 years WoSo will blow up and pro clubs can sponsor their own academies, as we are starting to see in MLS, which would be great. Also, the French academy doesn’t develop as many players, but it certainly could be argued it develops better technique in the ones it does produce than the NCAA. But I digress.

            And your point on “athletes” is fair enough esp for the the women, but a good athlete does not make a good soccer player as evidenced by the multitude of world class players (Men’s and Women’s) who are not tall, fast, big, or strong. The reliance of the US women on athleticism over skill is the reason they haven’t won a World Cup in 16 years, although it certainly guarantees they’ll be solidly in the top-5 teams in the world for at least a few more years.

            Watch the match the US just drew 0-0 against S Korea. It’s doubtful that a single player on S Korea could beat the countering US player in a footrace or jumping contest. However, the game was evenly played and at times S Korea completely controlled it.

          • atalba

            Yes, I saw that game. Teenagers playing soccer is what I saw; and the Japanese girls were far more technical. There’s no doubt, US women can build up their technical skills through youth development. I’ve seen hundreds, if not thousands of youth games, practices, and tournaments. It’s different for boys and girls here as well. Unfortunately, the coaching is not. As I stated, the boys start out with a deficit; they are not the best athletes in the bunch; all the way from u10 through high school. Regardless, they train and practice attempting to develop the best potential out of them. Few of the coaches know much about female athletes and how to train them. Most competitive clubs bring in English blokes or Latin technical geniuses, but none have ever trained girls; until they get here. The US women (and men, if there wasn’t football, basketball, baseball, soccer, MMA, etc) will always have a distinct advantage that SHOULD BE developed as the top ingredient to ANY SPORT; athleticism.

          • Steglitz49

            Men can train female footballers. Just look at Sasaki, Pellerud and Herdman. The good coaches are out there. Simply hire them.

          • atalba

            I agree. But the best women’s college coaches are American men; followed by American women. There’s no doubt a male/female coach from another country can do as well or better with women footballers. Maybe this is our problem. But understanding the training of female athletes, and the demands placed on them with academics is not easy. Like a boxer or a basketball player, you don’t come to the big stage playing a style that doesn’t suit your natural abilities. America will never play Tiki-Taka style. The best potential will be to play German-style with some French team play; but much faster. Faster AND harder! Speed of play (not AbbyBall direct).

          • Steglitz49

            I suspect that for an awfully long time now, WoSo will continue to be dominated by the US and Germany.

            Other teams will have the odd flashes and given the financial resources and populations, the lasses from England, France and Spain will (gradually) muscle in. Whether Japan can stay competitive and South-Korea join them is a good question.

            Potentially Nigeria, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast and South-Africa can join in the fun but it is likely to take longer.

            In the end population and number of girls playing beyond their high school days will make the break.

          • ARED

            It can’t hurt, but Xavi, Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, David Silva, and Santi Cazorla all beg to differ that it is the top ingredient as they made the core of the best national team in the history of the sport. Even Messi would not be considered useful in many sports outside of soccer.

            I agree the coaching needs help, and getting more of the top athletes can’t hurt the men. But the reason that NCAA (and many youth levels) don’t develop players is because the talented ones are overran by the big fast ones who just push and hustle them off the ball. It’s hard for a 14 year old to beat brawn with skill, but when the same players are 25 it’s a different story. There are even scientific studies showing how younger and later-developing players are overlooked for selection to national team camps.

            And, it was South Korea the US played, not Japan. Thankfully, for the USA’s point of view.

          • atalba

            Right SK. That list of Spaniards and Italians are likely their countries best athletes; they’re just smaller than Americans. As far as 14 yr old girls – wrong again. The best teams are skilled and pass around any team, with the other team chasing the ball. When a good team moves up to play in a higher bracket, they quickly learn that individual skill doesn’t cut it. And if a player can’t cut the speed of play and have endurance, her cute foot skills can go back to the indoor arena. Kling is the example for Americans. She’s tough at 5’1″. You start will athleticism at every level, and teach them skill. If they can outplay the athletes with skill and hang with them, then you start them! If they can’t hang at 10, 14, 17, don’t waste your time teaching them; or, for parents, don’t waste your money thinking they can make with another camp working on their skills, if they don’t have athletic ability and can’t run up and down the pitch for 90 minutes.

          • Reality

            Athletic skill is the foundation for advancement, but it should not be the sine qua son. Once they have passed that hurdle, they should be given exposure to skills such as controlling the ball, playing possession, passing with one touch combinations and having field vision to appreciate the tactical situation. All too often our young players are advanced solely on speed and athletic ability.

          • atalba

            Yes, I read that a lot. But I don’t see it. As I said, I’ve seen many good teams move up to higher brackets, and get beat by ball movement. It usually comes down to one team chasing the ball, until they learn they need even more technical skill and team chemistry. At every level, it goes like that. But you keep moving the high achievers forward, and you continue to give athleticism the highest weight when evaluating players. Not the only category. If you’re any good at coaching, you can teach them something; but you can never teach athleticism. Regardless of what one believes, this is the American Way, and will always be. When you have 300m people, you’d be a fool not to weed out based on athleticism.

          • Reality

            I don’t think we are in disagreement. But given equality in athleticism, I would give preferment every time to the player who possessed more technical skills as that would, in combination with other players of a similar level, produce a truly formidable team. Athletic ability is essential as an entry, but the great players and indeed teams have the best combination of both.

          • atalba

            Agreed, but at a development stage, I’d go with the athlete.

          • atalba

            Athleticism should be the heaviest weighted evaluation of one’s ability. Many “athletes” peak at a young age, while the truly gifted continue to advance and separate themselves from others. Those who develop their gift through training, repetition, and dedication are your star players. Technical skills is what most every good young team practices every practice; some more than others. It is practiced all of the time; but the amount needs to increase at all levels. At every (next higher) level, improvement in your first touch and technical skills is required, or you won’t make it.

          • Reality

            Speaking of which, Press’s latest ruminations on this very topic…
            http://www.theplayerstribune.com/christen-press-womens-world-cup-2015/

          • ARED

            You keep “misreading” my comments. I clearly was commenting on the men with the “14-year old” comment.

            But it applies to either, just a lesser extent. It’s just “ridiculous” to assume you have to be big, tall, fast, etc to be good at soccer. No, I don’t think David Silva or Sergio Busquets are anywhere near the top echelon of Spanish athletes if they were to play any sport other than soccer. Starting with Nadal and Ferrer I could easily list a dozen better Spanish athletes by the usual standards of “athleticism”.

            As I say, there are studies out finding that even a difference in 6-12 months in age causes enough of a physical edge that players who are in the “low” end of their age groups are overlooked. That is a problem, because the difference between a 14.1 year old and a 14.8 year old may influence their play as 14 year olds, but it’s “ridiculous” to think that it won’t even out by the time they are in their 20’s…..

            So I guess we just disagree on a few fundamental things here…lol

          • Steglitz49

            What is your point about Swedish male footballers and what relevance has it, if any?

          • atalba

            lot size, that’s all. You get a half a million kids, and you will find athletes.

          • Steglitz49

            Who is the US’s Zlatan?

          • atalba

            We have dozens of them. Unfortunately, they play in the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and UFC. This week, you can view Lebron versus Steph. Athletes with unbelievable skill, footwork, coordination, agility, timing, hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, intelligence, and knowledge; and they can run with pace and endurance like few humans.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. Everyone knows who Jordan and LeBron are just an awfully lot more know who Messi and Zlatan are. That does not make Messi and Zlatan better athletes and they probably earn less to boot, but it explains why an American lad will go down the American route.

            Finish and Swedish boys dream of playing in the NHL for the same reason: money.

          • Calci0

            Not to get off on a tangent, but Jordan, is possibly the most recognized athlete of all time. And that’s across the globe.

          • Steglitz49

            Pelé.

          • Preben Elkjær Larsen

            Who of the top players of Germany and France developed their craft in the NCAA? I have the impression that the youth development works better in countries like France and Germany (please take into consideration how many young girls play soccer in the US compared to those countries )

            “Our women’s soccer team is world class. Sure, other countries are catching up”. That team is not even ranked no1 in the world and has not won the most important title since 99!

            “This may change, but, for now, there isn’t a better brand of soccer for u20 women in the world” Have you seen the last U20 WC?

            I guess the biggest problem for the US women soccer program is their hybris which provides a reluctance to adapt and change!

          • atalba

            I’d take top 2 any day. As for the u20 games; They are all-star games for our girls, who haven’t played hardly at all together. And, despite what you might think, play different styles. The US could have easily sent 20, yes TWENTY, u20 teams with that level of skill. Throw in a half dozen college programs with only their freshmen and sophomores. The trick is to get them to play together. Evaluate the players as individuals in the tournament, for future growth, and I’d take the vast majority of the US players, despite the score. It’s a development tournament, and the players know there are 20 girls with equal quality behind them at each position. At 18, did the SK girls peak in athletic ability? When the game gets faster, will they be able to keep up?

          • US is superior

            Are you sure that the US just could have sent 20 teams that have the same level of skills than all the other developing countries? I would say we could have sent eaasily 80 teams which were all better than those Europeans/Asians/Africans.

            And we would still easily win if we would send our U-14 or our U-15 teams (90 of them) to those World Championships.

            To make a fair judgement. I would think that under the 100 best players U20 there are at least 97 from the US. And since we even develop further our athlectic abilities when getting older the ratio gets better with players over 20. we easily have 134 players in the top 100 of players being older than 20.

            By the way: There iss a strange rumour that the girls of the other countries also play hardly together before those tournaments. But that can’t be the true !?!

            There is another rumour that our girls and women don’t give 100% during all those competitions in order not to frustrate the other countries. Furthermore some of our best girls and women seem even not to play at those tournaments (they using doubles) in order to be fit and rested at the celebration tours. Could be true

          • atalba

            In 5 years, where will the SK senior team be ranked? How many players from the recent US u20 team be on the senior team? Where will the US team be ranked? It’s largely based on a much larger pool of players, playing against a much larger pool of like competitors through the ranks. The US will still be in the top 3, with a much larger pool of available pllayers. Even today, which country do you think has more players playing professionally outside of their own country? There are Americans in the SK pro league. Stuff the sarcasm and say something of value.

          • Steglitz49

            You ask

            — “How many players from the recent US u20 team be on the senior team?” — that one is too easy, like taking candy from a kid — few judging by recent evidence

            — “In 5 years, where will the SK senior team be ranked?” — harder to answer but judging by Japan, SK could get further than one might think

            — “Where will the US team be ranked?” — one would hope not worse than #3, as you predict, but they could be at #6 though hardly at #16.

          • atalba

            agreed on all 3.

          • God continues to bless America

            I still do not see any serious argument why the youth of US are better than the youth of for example Germany. Germany is U20 world champion. They have a better league than the the NWSL. Many of the U20 players would rick the NWSL. But I do not see any U20 player of the US who would rock the Bundesliga. Leupolz, Daebritz and co are miles ahead of the ahlectic runners of the NCAA

          • atalba

            Its not a question wht the Americans are this good (top 3); the question/argument is whay aren’t they better? In 5 years, where will the SK senior team be ranked? How many players from the recent US u20 team be on the senior team? Where will the US team be ranked? It’s largely based on a much larger pool of players, playing against a much larger pool of like competitors through the ranks. The US will still be in the top 3, with a much larger pool of available pllayers. Even today, which country do you think has more players playing professionally outside of their own country? There are Americans in the S

          • Steglitz49

            His point about the celebration tour is well taken though.

          • Steglitz49

            315m live in the US. That is 230m more than in Germany and 310m more than in Norway.

            Of course the US could have sent 20 U20 teams. I guess Germany could have scraped 3 or 4 together. That is not the issue.

            I contend that that eponymous bear gave us a wonderful thing in the NCAA. Whether the NCAA has developed the way every child’s favorite toy envisioned, I have not the foggiest.

            Would that there was an NCAA in all countries and a Title IX to go with it — but there isn’t. That would be something to strive for instead of having a pissing contest.

          • Steglitz49

            Are you the real Preben Elkjaer?

          • atalba

            The top scorer for the top team this year, Bayern, was Katie Stengel, right? Gina Lewandowski plays mf for them, and Dagny Brynjardsdottir is one of the top young attacking mids in the world. Was she a top new player in the league? And prior to Katie, how about Sarah Hagen?

          • With god on out side

            They became champions with Behringer/Leupolz, They didn’t make it with Brooks, Hagen, Tymrak and co, Brynardsdottit was not good enough. Heath and Rampinoe were not good enough for PSG/Lyon. Keep on running fast !! Eventually you may think about getting some soccer skills

          • atalba

            Stengel was the leading scorer. DagnyB stepped off the campus of Florida State and played an average of 75 minutes in her pro debut. GinaL started/played every game. Hagen was the team leading scorer the prior year. Bayern suited up or 5 or 6 Germans out of 18 per game. PSG suited up 9 French players out of 18. They’re second leading scorer last year (hurt most of this year, although still 3rd leading scorer) decided to forego her scholarship at North Carolina and go straight from US high school to PSG – Horan. Heath and Rampinoe had contracts in NWSL as NT allocated players (paid). Where are your facts?

          • god’s own country

            Kim Little best player in the NWSL. Before that Vero was outshining your country with all those thousands of better players (TWENTY TEAMS PER YEAR).Tymrak was not good enough for Bayern U(FACT), Brooks were mainly on the bench the last half year with Bayern (FACT). Heath, Rampinoe and Horan are and were never convincing playing in EU. Have you seen the CL final Lyon – Wolfsburg with Rampinoe? She was the worst player on the pitch and was substituted at half time (FACT) Deines (former NWSL player was not good enough to play even one (ONE) game for Potsdam (FACT)

            Nobody said that the US is not good. Nobody said that the US do not have a lot of good players. Nobody said that a lot of them are not good enough to play in the NWSL or in Europe or in Japan.

            But you said that

            – The US is by far the best and the other are catching up (but Germany is the world’s no 1 -> FACT)
            – you said the US has a least TWENTY teams per age group under 20 which could play at the same level as the best other countries (but even the best 11 out of the age group in the US didn’t qualify for the semis the last WC -> FACT)
            – Why is Dagny Brynjardsdottir one of the top young attacking mids in the world? She is not good enough for Bayern. She just played some games when

            Iwabuchi was injured. I have thenn some games of here. Nothing special (FACT)

            You are an arrogant US fan who prentends that the US is sooooo much better than all the others. They are excellent in women soccer. But no reason to be disrespectul to others (TWENTY teams…Haha)

          • atalba

            So you don’t dispute my facts?

            Also, what I said was, “For women, NCAA soccer is the top spot for all young female athletes….athletes. Our women’s soccer is world class. Sure, other countries are catching up…”

            This is opinion based on the number of professional players who developed the game in US colleges. I hope you’re watching the WWC2015. The first day was dominated (numbers) by the number of players who played in US colleges.

            “Best by far” – you made that up. World-class means the top 4-8 teams in the world. And the list is growing.

            LIttle – fact, voted best player.

            Vero – opinion. She is a world-class player who made a huge difference for her American squad; just like she was dominant for the Champions League winners Frankfurt this year.

            Rapinoe shared her position on Lyon with a another world-class player not from France or Germany. LauraD

            If you don’t see the the talent in DagnyB…well that says a lot. Most US players I’ve mentioned that have done well in Germany are “fringe” US players at best. Horan is the only potential superstar, AND SHE IS DOING/HAS DONE extremely well for PSG. Goals; undeniable facts.

            You’re probably stuck on the 20 teams statement playing in the LATEST u20 tournament. This is still a true statement (opinion). Based on the US squad that was there, we easily could have fielded 20 other teams of u20 players that either tied or beat SK.

            Try not to get too emotional. And stick to the facts. The US is a top 3 team, where anyone of the 3 will likely win, and several others have a very good chance (Sweden, Brazil, Japan).

          • atalba

            By the way, my predictions for the WWC were: Golden Boot: Sasic; Golden Ball: Press; Best Young Player: AdaH; Golden Gloves: Solo

          • Steglitz49

            The US is the main (though not only) reason we have pro-WoSo. I happen to believe in the NCAA principle. That eponymous bear did a lot of good and the NCAA is not the least of his achievements.

            We must make WoSo safer for the lasses to play. THAT is the big lesson of this WC. Let’s now apply it diligently. The NCAA principles look a good place to start.

          • ARED

            What bear? lol. As I said, it’s not really anything worth worrying about for the Women, but for the Men it’s happening. And, while idealistic, I don’t get the impression the NCAA in reality is quite what is claims/used to be (though I’m no expert).

          • Steglitz49

            Teddy, as in Roosevelt, the geezer who saved the Grand Canyon from big business and gave us National Parks and the NCAA. He got the Nobel Peace prize also, though not for his services to WoSo I guess.

            Oh, he gave kids around the world a much loved toy too. I have one that looks like Teddy in one of the cup-holders in my car.

          • ARED

            Oh that one….lol. Anyway, for now the NCAA is great for the women, not great for the men. That could change, but as we know -in WoSo you can’t look too far ahead b/c things are always changing.

          • Steglitz49

            We only care for the women. The men earn more than enough already.

          • ARED

            Right. I was not referring to player’s incomes although that obviously plays a role in things as well (like keeping them in the sport). But the example is there to be made since the MLS has grown from a fledgling league into a stable and thriving entity which is beginning to supply a pipeline of talent into the national team program, which is what the conversation was about (albeit for the women in the US).

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe it is different for the lasses than the men?

          • ARED

            Indeed, which I said somewhere in my mess of comments lol. Hardly a “firm” pattern for NWSL and the USWNT, but, one worth noting I’d say.

          • Lala Oregon

            Thorns Academy exists but as it is one of a kind, tough to find a league to play in. But there is ECNL as well.

          • ARED

            Fair point, I considered mentioning Thorns Academy, but I don’t know too much about their program or its success -and I seemed to be having enough trouble just highlighting the more established pathways starting from ~17/18 when a player is done with high school and deciding on college or pro (but for the women, there are only a few going directly to a pro club).

          • ARED

            I should have said thanks for the info though. Also, any thoughts on ECNL or it’s merits (or faults)?

          • Breakers fan

            Good look at a possible version of the future women’s soccer landscape. It seems to me it goes without saying that unless the NWSL really flourishes, whereby a player can make a decent living playing in it, that parents choosing to send their daughter to a soccer academy, as opposed to a college or university, will be a choice rarely made. It’s just so against the grain of American culture and history. But…we’ll see. It happens in the men’s game overseas but that is a wwwhhhooollle different ballgame at this point, as we all well know.

            I think the college game as it is currently structured does provide enough very good quality competition. The best players tend to go to the best conferences and thus are playing against the best competition from their age group who exist in America, so in a sense, these top conferences – the ACC and the PAC-12, add the SEC, Big 10 and Big 12, aren’t much different than what an academy would be, plus with all the other features offered by a college – things that of course parents are more concerned about than soccer, almost without exception.

          • ARED

            Good point, esp on it needing to be worth their while. Life is not sport, and despite the prominent “American mentality”, I think it’s good for athletes to learn that sooner rather than later.

            To clarify one thing, I am speaking about youth academies with the idea that instead of swimming the sea of club/cup/school/etc and hoping to be found and/or talk yourself into a scholarship at a top college program, the very best kids (12-18) would be found, trained, and developed with a long-term outlook by the (non existent) academies of NWSL clubs.

            This, in theory, would be better for the kids b/c the academy teams wouldn’t need to be focused money, nepotism, or short-term winning. The pro club would subsidize it -or at least grant it some instant authenticity, which eliminates 2 barriers that many girls face now (1. Money 2. Not knowing where or how to find a chance to “be found”). For example, now a 14 yr-old boy in WA state can see Deandre Yedlin’s rise via the Seattle academy and know that can be a pathway to the top.

            So players could 1) Work to make the academy team, then 2) Stay during the 18-22 years, or maybe a more likely first step would still be for them to go to college, then come back (which is actually what Yedlin did).

            Either way, it’s a looong way down the road for NWSL….but the is still reason to believe some good players out there aren’t making it due to the US youth system. However, unlike in the men’s game, the US Women are doing quite well despite that -in large part thanks to the strength of the NCAA.

          • Breakers fan

            Thanks for that clarification. I wasn’t sure what age group you were thinking of in reference to these potential academies. One question: For the age group you mention, 12-17 you see these academies as an adjunct to the girls’ school life, not a replacement of, correct? I mean, they would still go to school, (or not?) and do the academy soccer “on the side”, or would it be a full immersion in soccer as a lifestyle, as you see it?

            The question you raise about players possibly slipping through the cracks is a good one. I wonder how often that happens and whether it’s more likely to happen in more “remote” areas, like, say South Dakota, Maine or …..wherever else may apply, areas where national program scouts aren’t as present. I wonder how sophisticated the whole nation has become in terms of the really good players being identified, or whether there are still “holes” where it’s a lot harder to get noticed.

          • ARED

            Yes, they would be schooled in some normal sense through high school at least (but perhaps alternative options like home schooling would make life easier, as many teen athletes find). And you are right about the “remote” places I think. Obviously in a country the size of the US, and a league so small, there would only be certain places pro-academies was even feasible. But again, with MLS as a vague model, you can see where players could try out and if then if they make it determine whether moving or commuting could work. And even if nobody does that in WoSo, since the reward is cloudy, you could still just take what you can get from the big markets who have pro clubs like NY, LA, Chi, Sea, etc. The other players in areas with no academy can still play for whatever clubs/schools/camps/etc that currently are being used to find the talent for the colleges.

            I have had some off-and-on experiences (and exposure through others) to the US system, and it seems to me the size of the nation just makes it impossible really, so you just do your best. Not surprising so many national team players come from NY, NJ, CA, etc. All about “getting yourself found”, which isn’t really ideal. It’s not impossible to do that from a remote/lowly regarded region (where obviously some good players must be), but most of the ones I’ve known to succeed in those cases either had “special” connections, sold themselves to a shocking degree, or both. And some just get very, very lucky. Not an ideal pathway, since many obviously will not be able to do that. But it seems at the big regional and national events that you see regions like maybe the NYC or CA regions dominate the rural ones, which makes it quite hard for a player on the team getting crushed to “stand out”, which is what US Soccer tells them to do to be picked for national camps. (Which is another problem to me, b/c it teaches kids not to pass and to only try to show themselves off).

            But again, thanks to the Title IX providing many NCAA programs looking for talent, there seems to be decent chances for girls to be found, whether in CA or Kansas. But for the boys, I think it is a huge problem. In Spain for example, even small towns have clubs, and you succeed there you can move the an academy in Madrid/Barca/Bilbao without having to move 1,000’s of miles. Maybe a few hundred miles in extreme cases. And again, everybody knows what the goal is -Academy-Bigger Academy-Pro career. It’s a bit harsh to watch a 12 year old playing for Atleti fight through this system, hoping to maybe jump to Real one day, but also knowing that he could be cut at any time and lose his place, but at least everybody knows. In the US so many men/women’s players (and parents, and even coaches) seemed to have no idea what the pathway is other than “hopefully I get a scholarship”. So, not terrible for girls -even if France and Germany maybe do it better. But for the guys, just not good enough, which is why the MLS’ growth with their academies seems to be a huge step -whether it ever is needed/possible for girls, we’ll see I guess.

            Long, but you seem interested enough to read…lol. Cheers!

          • Breakers fan

            Great answer – appreciate it. I will respond more later. I have to run now.

          • Reality

            It is obviously too late, outside of Dunn, to incorporate any younger players but I completely agree that the current roster needs to be better utilized with an emphasis on the younger players who are more skilled and diversified in their play. The team has been distorted with players being utilized inappropriately in an effort to preserve certain veteran’s roles in the WC. As a result, we are caught in a time warp where the hope is that we can redeem the WC2011 loss.

          • ARED

            Indeed. Depressingly, there were some who thought the youth movement should have come into play before 2011 WC. Even in 2007 those players weren’t quite good enough. But so it stands, 8 years on and the core stays the same. It’d be like the England men taking Gerrard, Lampard, and Beckham to the next WC. “It didn’t work when they were in their prime, so let’s try it two more times!”….

          • Steglitz49

            Christen Press made it and she is older than Alex, as are Whitney Engen and Meghan Klingenberg.

          • ARED

            I’m not saying a complete pruning of anyone over the age of Morgan or 25 or whatever. I’m saying: Abby Wambach, Carli Lloyd, Christie Rampone, Shannon Boxx, and Lori Chalupny.

          • Steglitz49

            To Rio the USNT should bring a U23 squad. They may bring 1-3 players max aged 24 or 25 but not more.

            High time to slash and burn!

          • Steglitz49

            Doing it by age is simple and objective. Decide on a birthdate and cut.

          • ARED

            If they’d have done that in 2008 they’d have been better off, but doing a clean cut by age basically would admit you can’t tell the difference between which players are good enough to help still and which aren’t (but we know they can’t do that anyway, so….).

          • Steglitz49

            The US won OG-08 without Abby. They came second in WC-11 and they won OG-12. Not a bad record all things considered, not least after the debacle of 2007.

            — In that time period only Sasaki and his merry band of Nadeshiko did better. They won the World Cup.

            Tom Sermanni started pruning when he took over. One gets the impression that he was too much a gentleman and not politically savvy enough to manoeuvre between the rocks, shoals and mines. It is not impossible that he was not meant to manage in WC-15. Hos misfortune was that Alex got injured.

          • Steglitz49

            Dunn is not in WC-15. What do you mean?

          • Reality

            In theory, FIFA rules state that, “A player listed on the final list may be replaced by a player from the provisional list only in the event of serious injury up until 24 hours before the kick-off of her team’s first match.” Unlikely but theoretically possible until 7:30 pm Sunday.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Good point. Sweden flew a lady out the other day for that reason but whether she will be on the list I know not.

          • NYRick

            I look at your 4 names, perhaps 5 including Lloyd (although I think she deserves to make the roster as a sub not a starter at this point) and agree wholeheartedly. I would even include HAO to that list as well. She has had over a 12+ year run on this team. That is more than anyone can truly ask, and right now there are most likely players in their early 20s like Ohai and Tymrak who should be developed into her team role. The knock on both is they are not ready, they are regressing blah blah blah. So tell me, how good was HAO at 17? Or Tobin at 18/19. They weren’t any better but given the opportunity. It was a different era obviously.

            Abby herself should think about 2002/3. The 99ers were still very prominent at that time. They could have easily shut her out and let her wait till age 27/28 to break in. Mia was her guide and mentor. She didn’t. She stepped aside for the next generation. Abby won’t. She thinks she is being this inspirational leader when in reality it is time for Morgan, Press and Leroux to do the heavy lifting. Abby truly knows this but won’t give up the WC fame and exposure (has she ever gotten more?? than now?) and of course the bread. I don’t totally blame her but she knows she still has the hammer in this program. All you need to know about this team are:

            1) JE for TS gave the team back to the 07ers. That is undeniable.
            2) The captain 40, the vice captains are 35 and 33. That is just ludicrous really.

          • ARED

            Yep, yep, and yep!

            To longer it goes on, the more Hamm looks like a saint for stepping aside at 32…

          • ARED

            I don’t want to put words in anybody’s mouth, but for me it may be better say “break into the heart of the team” rather than just breaking the “roster”, since Holiday, Press, Heath, Leroux, Sauerbrunn, and even Morgan have all been on the team but still played secondary roles instead of being given the past 4 years to take the team and make it their own.

            So more focus on the “appropriate utilization of their players” than simply putting the player on the bench on the 23-woman roster, or having her play in a way that doesn’t suit her strengths.

            I think that is the key more than worrying about who the 23rd player is -getting the best out of your best players. Even though there is room to discuss a few names left out.

          • Breakers fan

            I agree – riding the pines, while nice in some ways, really makes no changes to the team.

          • Steglitz49

            Your examples make little sense but never mind.

            Alex Morgan replaced and injured Lauren Holiday (then Cheney) in the WC-11 Final and never looked back. Heath and Leroux was brought into the Nt by Pia. Press got her chance through Tom Sermanni. Sauerbrunn I can’t remember.

            The US won OG-12 with a lot of help from the refs admittedly, but they won. After the Olympics, there is nothing for the USNT to play for till the next WC, which is now. European nations have Euro-13 and the WC qualifiers, likewise Asia.

          • ARED

            As I say, what I am saying is that the given players should have been incorporated not just into occasional callups, or a 23-player roster, or even a starting position. I’m saying they should have been pushed into the forefront of the team, the creative and inspirational leaders, ie, the spot held by the vice grips of the 30+ club.

            Morgan was only used b/c of injury, and she saved the US yet again -but they still lost. But what might have happened if she AND Holiday (then Cheney) were allowed to start? Gasp! Or what if O’Hara and Sauerbrunn were the stalwarts on the backline instead of the slow and error-prone Buelher and LePeilbet? Again, Sauerbrunn was on that team -but it’s not until now when she’s 30 that she’s a starter? Why? Tobin Heath was brought on in the final moments after the veteran core had let two leads slip, to what, clean up the mess as a 23 year old? What if she had been used in conjunction with Morgan and Holiday (and Rapinoe).

            Basically I am saying, the US program has had great players taking a backseat to the stars of the 2007 WC for 8 years and that seems odd. Especially since they’ve never even won a WC (aside from Rampone in 99).

          • Steglitz49

            Tom Sermanni tried but he was sent packing. Christen Press may be his only survivor and she is older than Alex.

            Pia before that brought 6 new players on board and tested a few more. Those pesky Nadeshiko spoilt her suite though. Rotters.

          • ARED

            True. And as good as Japan was, I still say the US left a lot in the barrel in 2011. Not so much the players on the field, who gave their all. But despite my beliefs that the midfield and attack were thwarted by the same issues/players who do so now, it was Rampone with a bad giveaway, LePeilbet too slow to recover, and Buelher too slow and a unlucky to do anything but play a perfect pass off of Krieger and onto Miyama foot….if memory serves….

            Sauerbrunn and O’Hara were there but used only in emergencies, just as Morgan and Heath, apparently b/c….well….I can’t say for sure….

          • Steglitz49

            Miyama’s equalizer is an amazing piece of skill. You appreciate it best from the camera behind the goal. Miyama sells Hope a dummy so she moves one way while Miyama flicks the ball the other way. Unbelievable.

            Aya hit the corner from which Sawa equalized. Aya then netted Japan’s first penalty. She also picked up a yellow card along the way.

            In many ways the WC-11 final was Miyama’s but it made Alex’s name!

          • ARED

            Don’t get me wrong, I take nothing away from Miyama who is one of my favorite players in the world. But, you have to admit Japan had very little to do with the origin of that chance, and then cross was poorly defended on both end, before Miyama sold the short-step lefty (?) stab for the finish.

          • Steglitz49

            Some goals come off errors and others from set pieces, like corners and freekicks. Goals from open play are, probably, more common in the ladies game than the men’s, but a lot of goals come through set pieces even for the distaff side.

          • ARED

            True. I am not one to go searching for scapegoats on every goal ever scored (I leave that to the English ; p ), but that goal was a breakdown which started with Rampone having the ball with time and making a terrible risky pass, something you might expect the veteran captain to not do. Then, none of the defenders were good enough to deal with a hopeful ball into the area and a single player attacking it.

            Hardly the sole reason they lost, but I do think it’s a relevant example of how the US played in 2011 and continues to now. Too many turnovers, too much carelessness, and even a bit too much selfishness and impatience on the ball. So often they win anyway, often by a few goals. But against Japan, Germany, and France especially, there is a solid track record of it not being good enough.

          • Steglitz49

            The reason the US lost the WC-11 final could be ascribed too two basic differences.

            Had the US played like a team in the first half, they would have won the match before half time. They didn’t.

            The second was that Japan were simply hungrier. The Nadeshiko had made up their minds to bring that trophy home — and they did.

            The best about the US team was that they did not cry. They showed a stiff upper lip worthy of the best of British! Maybe that’s why the American people took them to heart in spite of chucking away the game.

          • Silver Frost

            I predicted this about a year ago, as Ellis seemed uninterested in changing Abby Ball. When it comes to crunch time, and that means right now (at last!!!), coaches get conservative, and that means long ball to Abbster’s head, just like 2011. I wonder, has the oldest team in the WC ever won it?

          • Breakers fan

            Passing stats for the S. Korea game,not our best game ever, from the allwhitekit site:

            First touches: S.K 536; USA 601
            Total passes: SK 334; USA 400
            Pass completion: SK 62%; USA 67%
            Number of pass strings: SK 48; USA 58
            Average string length: SK 5.3; USA 5.2
            Longest string length: SK 15; USA 16

          • ARED

            Might I ask where you got those numbers?

            Average string length tells the story I saw watching that match -which was that the US had no advantage over Korea in any team moves.

          • Breakers fan

            Sure – someone here alerted me to the existence of this site. It is: http://www.allwhitekit.com

            Scroll down a bit there to get to these stats. I’m assuming the stats are accurate. I have not done my own calculations to confirm if they are.

          • ARED

            Nice, thank you. Not a lot of good places to get useful data on WoSo…..certainly not the US or FIFA websites. ; )

          • Steglitz49

            Good grief. Of no use to man or beast. How can you have an average string-length of 5.3 and 5.2? It has to be either 5, most likely, or 6. A pass is whole and indivisible.

            Cricket has tons of stats, like baseball. Soccer, also invented by the Brits, don’t.

          • ARED

            I’m not going to actually calculated for 5.2, but if you have a 10 strings of 3 passes and 10 strings of 4 passes, your “Avg string length” will be 3.5.

            It means that the US struggled to put more that 5 passes together. Of course you can do a lot in less than 5 passes, but if you watched the match it simply confirms what you saw: a pass or two, then a turnover -or a long ball.

          • Steglitz49

            It is bad statistics. If the passing strings were very long and there were a lot of them, then you could use means, but otherwise you need to use medians, inter-quartile ranges and ranges.

          • ARED

            The strings all ranged from 1-16, so it’s not that far fetched to take some info from it. Again, I’m hardly one to judge a game from numbers instead of your eyes and your gut, but after watching the game thinking “wow, Korea is seriously moving the ball better than the US for a lot of this match”, seeing these numbers back it up a bit and give some reminder of what you’ve seen.

          • Steglitz49

            One could be a one-humped camel and the other a two-humped one. The means would look not that different while the medians would spell it out.

            What I mean is that one side could have a set of strings with a lot of passes and more sets with few while the other side had most of their strings somewhere in between. You would notice the very long strings; the rest would be lost in the background noise.

            The first men’s FA cup final was played in 1871 and the first ladies in 1971. Soccer has had an awfully long time to develop reliable statistics. The simplest answer is that there may not be any.

          • ARED

            Like I said, I’m not basing any World Cup cuts on it, just using it, along with all the other passing and possession stats, as confirmation of what I saw.

            If a team has 20 shot attempts, it’s not guaranteed, but it’s pretty safe to say they were getting forward and creating some chances. But only by watching (and evaluating with your eyes) can you say for sure. If they had only 2 shots of the 20 on goal, it might indicate they actually weren’t pressuring as much as launching long range prayers. But, if they have 14 corner kicks, well, that shows the defense was under a lot of pressure, and they had at least 14 good chances to put the ball into the area.

            Not of it means anything definitively, but it all can help paint a picture -one that is best used only to reiterate what you’ve seen happen.

          • guest

            But doesn’t an average string length of 5.3 for the Koreans compared to 5.2 for the US mean the Koreans had, on average, longer strings?

          • Steglitz49

            It depends. See below. And was it both statistically significantly different and play-relevant significantly different or neither?

          • guest

            That’s exactly what it means. It also means you’re full of baloney and you need to shut up and go away. While I’m at it, nobody here cares much about your Nadeshiko, so you won’t exactly be missed. Do you understand that?

          • Steglitz49

            The possession was 50/50.
            SK had 177 passes while the US had 217, that is 40 more almost 25%.
            — SK had 26 pass strings to the US 25, a trivial difference.
            — The average (mean) pass string length was 5.2 for SK but 6.6 for the US, just over 25% more for the US. I expect that medians would show 5 for SK and about as many at 6 as 7 for the US (but we can’t tell whehthr the US was at sixes and sevens.
            — SK’s longest pass string was 9 and the US’s 16

            In short, the US seems to have done better passing than South Korea.

          • guest

            “The average…string length was 6.6 for the US…SK’s longest pass string was 9.”
            Making up numbers now? Thanks for confirming my point above.

          • Steglitz49

            I do not understand your comment.

            The discussion was originally based on the figures in Breakers Fans comment, where it says 5.3 and 5.2.

            I went to that link someone provided and quoted those numbers. Maybe I have mixed up the games or how the data were presented.

          • Reality

            Steg should be able to contribute on that.

          • Steglitz49

            Search me. I have not the foggiest. Japan must have been the shortest and lightest and probably also the youngest, with a homogenous hair color to boot. Few curves though by western standards.

    • Silver Frost

      USWNT is the oldest team by far. And is not the tallest. England, France, Sweden, and Thailand are taller on average. Nigeria is the youngest team, and it will be fun to watch the 29 yr old US play 23 yr old Nigeria.

      • ARED

        Klingenberg and A-Rod really bring down the US average….lol.

        Also, Spain’s women may be taller than the men’s team on average.

        • Steglitz49

          Maybe they added their waists to their heights for Spain?

      • Reality

        We may cultivate stamina but there is an energy differential between 23 and 29. The Nigerian players will probably be in perpetual motion. The question for them is can they coordinate all that young energy into something tangible.

        • Calci0

          But how many of the older players are starters.

          • ARED

            Too many (har har).

      • Steglitz49

        The average age of Japan when they won WC-11 was 25 years which fits with them being 28 now.
        — The average height of the Nadeshiko was 5’4″ when they won, which is about 162 cm. I doubt that the Japanese lasses have grown 6 cm since then. They have added a very tall goalie, which skews the figures.

        • AlexH

          Yeah, this table screams for medians as I am sure that Rampone and Boxx skew the age and cap statistics as well. Also our I think the age of our subs skews the age and cap averages up because JE seems to favor vets as reserves whereas most other countries favor giving reserve spots to young guns with a look toward future competitions.

          I did a from memory calculation of the median age of our starters from the last game and it came to 27 with a mean of 27.5. It’s still pretty old but it isn’t exactly a geriatric ward either.

          • Steglitz49

            Quite. That the Japanese average 28 is not so odd. As reigning champions it is hard not to give them a chance to defend their title. Also, Japan’s younger ranks have been hit with injuries.

            Sweden’s age looks too young. Maybe it is based on the squad before Folkesson and Rolfö were sidelined by injuries?

  • JAMES 18

    ALEX has been saying she’s “done a lot for this team now” a lot lately,i think she;s tooting her own horns a little too much.I haven’t even heard Wambach or Mia said something like that.

    • Breakers fan

      You made a pretty significant misquote there. I just went and listened to it because it seemed out of character to me to hear her say what you reported her as saying and what she actually says is that “I’ve done so much *with* (not “for”) this team, been through so much”. To me that is not an egocentric, self-serving comment. It is simply a general, factual statement about her overall experience, all she’s been through – all the ups and downs of the last 4-5 years.

      • JAMES 18

        I stand corrected I thought I heard ‘for’ but after listening numerous times it appears she said “with”.

  • Ben

    The problem with our forwards is directly tied to the problem with our midfield. The forwards constantly have to run back to help with defense because the midfielders are too far up top. That and the midfielders look for opportunity to score themselves instead of working to get the forwards opportunities to score.

    • AlexH

      That being said, the mediocrity of most of the teams we play against allows them to get quite a few opportunities, if not outright sitters which they repeatedly miss.

      This means that Abby will play way too many minutes owing to the fact that she is the only one of the group that can hit reliably the broad side of a barn.

      It seems to me that Jill Ellis has allowed players on this team in both the midfield and attack that fail the most basic of soccer requirements.

      • ARED

        Just to clarify, do you feel Wambach actually gives the US the best finishing ability, or just that she is counted on as such?

        I think you’re both right on many counts, but I think it’s worth noting that are two different types of strikers on the team. Most who want the ball at their feet or into space behind the D, and one who doesn’t want either of those things, she wants the ball played to her head.

        So the team needs to play to suit whichever forwards are on the field, but quite often we see AM/CP/SL/A-Rod making runs that are ignored, and showing for the ball but not getting it. Then, the ball is eventually put into a crowded penalty area after the defense has recovered, and a helter-skelter chance comes, but they haven’t been finishing them. I agree some good chances missed, but rarely any great ones.

        And most importantly, they aren’t creating nearly as many good/great chances as they could by playing to the forward’s strengths. Alex Morgan has never been a player who thrives in tight, crowded spaces. She wants to move around, get the ball in space, and use her speed to beat defenders. How many times have we seen that happen under Ellis, for any of the strikers? Not many….

      • Breakers fan

        It does seem like there haven’t been many really good shots lately. We’ll need some in Canada.

  • justsomeguy

    Morgan is my top pick

    • mockmook

      For what?

      • ARED

        FIFA president.

        • Steglitz49

          Too soft. Need a RVH type character. Iwashimizu might do?

      • justsomeguy

        as a striker for the wc

  • Beef Jerky

    When our forwards score, or anyone else (except MKling) for that matter, the goals are mostly garbage. While other nations have forwards that put in some pretty ones. I’m a judge of quality not quantity.