USWNT things learned: Mostly status quo through Game 1

Ray Curren August 3, 2016 342
Alex Morgan scored 40 seconds into the second half to pad the USWNT lead on Wednesday. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

Alex Morgan scored 40 seconds into the second half to pad the USWNT lead on Wednesday. (Photo Copyright Patricia Giobetti for The Equalizer)

We’ve gotten to the point where we have to “nitpick” to find serious faults with the U.S. women’s soccer team. They are large favorites to win their fourth consecutive gold medal in Brazil, having added weapons like Crystal Dunn and Mallory Pugh to a team that dispatched of Germany and pummeled Japan on its way to a World Cup title last summer.

But “prohibitive favorite” does not equate to “100 percent sure thing,” which is one of the reasons why the USWNT Olympic lifetime record is so impressive. The U.S. was far from perfect against New Zealand in its 2-0 win Wednesday, it lacked the cutting edge we had seen in previous matches, allowed the Ferns a couple of dangerous opportunities that could have resulted in a goal conceded, never really was able to penetrate the middle of the New Zealand defense, and wasted a few set piece chances. New Zealand didn’t have enough of the ball to answer whether the U.S. can continue to get away without a true holding midfielder through another tournament. And yet they dominated anyway. Again.

Indeed, there was nothing Wednesday that should cause any alarms (except possibly a Pugh injury, she was pulled from the game early in the second half after a slight knock in the first that saw her off the field for a minute). Unlike in the recent past, the U.S. played attractive soccer and were able to dictate play without resorting to just playing the long ball repeatedly and/or waiting for a set piece. France will certainly be a step up and some big games that the USWNT could lose on a bad day await in the knockout rounds, but through one game in Brazil and now having seen everyone play, the United States still looks like the best team and on course for its fourth straight Olympic gold medal.

But there’s a long way to go.

1) Width can open up opponents

In theory, New Zealand’s 4-4-2 should have been able to neutralize the likes of Pugh and Tobin Heath on the wings, but – just as it has all year against everyone else – Heath, Pugh, and Crystal Dunn were a constant threat and at the same time pinned New Zealand’s outside mids back in their own end. If two people (an outside mid and outside back) can’t stop the talent the USWNT is putting in wide positions, then good luck. In the end, the Ferns committed 16 fouls and the U.S. ended up with 63 percent possession.

It will be interesting to see what France, likely in a 4-2-3-1, does? Do they pull their wings all the way back and leave their lone striker completely isolated? Or do they take their chances and hope that they can counter the other way if they get a mistake (as they did successfully against Colombia)? Whatever France has done recently hasn’t worked against the USWNT.

The 2-0 loss was only the second time since 2008 that New Zealand has been beaten by more than a goal at a major tournament with the other also against the United States at the 2008 Olympics. New Zealand tends to be organized and Abby Erceg continued her NWSL in-form play – albeit in a different position – with a solid game in an organized back line. Yet, although they are almost always competitive, they rarely win, in fact they’ve done so just once ever at a major tournament (2012 Olympics over Cameroon), compiling a pretty woeful 1-15-8 all-time overall record.

So again, we didn’t learn too much today, unfortunately.

{DAY 1: Canada survive early red, beat Australia | Brazil roll | Sweden edge South Africa}

2) Lack of high pressure

We didn’t see the extreme high pressure out of the USWNT that stifled Germany and Japan at last year’s World Cup and did the same in the SheBelieves Cup in the late winter/early spring. There are some tactical theories why, it is a six-game tournament in a short time period (16 days), and you obviously want to hit your zenith at the end not at the beginning (which they certainly did last year). After Carli Lloyd scored early, Wednesday’s game never really appeared in doubt, so there was no need for Jill Ellis to push the issue too much.

It will be interesting to see how Ellis and the USWNT come out Saturday against France, who has been particularly susceptible to high pressure in previous meetings. We’ll also see how much Ellis rotates her players, she certainly has the depth to do it if she wants, although if Pugh is out and Megan Rapinoe isn’t ready to go, they are down to 16 temporarily.

3) Set pieces will be key

I’m no genius, but I swear that I’ve been telling everyone that Julie Johnston runs near post on almost every U.S. set piece, yet somehow she’s open several times a game. She was again in just the 4th minute here off a corner and only a good, but somewhat lucky stop from goalkeeper Erin Nayler (the ball hit her from close range) kept Johnston from scoring. Abby Wambach has retired, but there are plenty of weapons for the U.S. to succeed through set pieces, whether it be Johnston, Lindsey Horan, Lloyd, even Becky Sauerbrunn, not to mention that Tobin Heath’s delivery on said set pieces seems to be getting better and better.

How did the U.S. get the corner that led to the Johnston chance, you ask? Pugh wreaking havoc down the right side, of course. So that talent on the wings creates another dilemma. Heath, Pugh, Dunn, etc. are so good on the ball that you foul them at your own risk as well.

4) “Zi-ka”

I guess Hope Solo got some Brazilians a little more upset than we thought by putting pictures (seemingly slightly tongue in cheek) on social media of the lengths she was prepared to go to protect herself from the Zika virus, which does not appear as serious an issue as it did a few months back.

The chant and boos got louder and louder as the game wore on, and to be honest, I had the same reaction that Solo did afterward, that – as long as it’s within reason – a story like that will be largely be good for the women’s game and create quite the atmosphere should the U.S. and Brazil (who looked good Wednesday) meet down the road. I do think giving Hope Solo extra motivation could end up poorly for any future opponents, however.   

  • Cc W

    Yelling “Zika” is better than what the Mexican fan yell.

    • Steglitz49

      Or Canadians at Syd.

  • NYRick

    I learned what I already knew and predicted a couple of weeks ago: Lloyd will 90 minutes of every match whether they play 4 or 6 matches. If there were Vegas odds on that, I’d pretty much bet my house on it.

    • Gary Diver

      Assuming Carli Lloyd starts, you’ve got the problem of only 3 substitutions.

    • Frozen Blue

      “When you’re right you’re right, and you you’re always right!”

    • Steglitz49

      As long as a team wins, it does not matter who starts and plays 90 min.

      As Lars Lagerbäck commented, it is better to win by a bizarre goal than to tie after scoring 3.

    • kernel_thai

      If the US beats France and Lloyd still plays 90 against Columbia, Ellis should be tied up in a bag and left in the Amazonian jungle.

  • NYRick

    The only thing with Hope’s Zika stance is that it’s silly at this point. It is worldwide news, every athlete and really every person at the games is very concerned. She is not raising awareness, just grandstanding.

    If you have that big a problem with it, stay home. Like many have. She won’t because the NT and the pseudo fame it brings her is her oxygen.

    • jomi
      • NYRick

        Interesting. I guess that was the announcers interpretation of the chant. And yeah the Mexican version of that is really nasty and classless as well.

        If that’s the case, then why was Hope signaled out like that? That’s uncalled for and she doesn’t deserve that. That seems more of an anti-American chant than in that case.

        • FlyingSquirrel42

          A couple of other media outlets reported it as “Zika,” but this ESPN article reports that a “homophobic slur” was being directed at the Australian and Canadian GKs as well:

          http://www.espn.com.au/olympics/story/_/id/17214449/brazilians-hurl-offensive-slur-goalkeepers-matildas-clash

          I don’t really understand it either way. If it’s a homophobic slur, then in addition to it being offensive, why do it specifically when goalkeepers were handling the ball? (At first I thought maybe specifically English-speaking goalkeepers, but they weren’t doing it to Erin Nayler.) On the other hand, booing Hope over something she tweeted two weeks ago that didn’t even refer to Brazil or Brazilians specifically seems dumb too.

  • Gary Diver

    “But “prohibitive favorite” does not equate to “100 percent sure thing”, which is one of the reasons why the USWNT Olympic lifetime record is so impressive.”

    This obvious fact could be expressed much better.

    • Steglitz49

      One loss in Sydney, the rest wins. Speaks volumes.

  • Gary Diver

    How many “close” free kicks did USWNT have? France has scored 3 out of their last 5 goals on free kicks. When was the last USWNT free kick goal?

    France has a number of players who are deadly with free kicks. In the USWNT-France game they had one hit the crossbar. I hope Hope Solo plays her A game on Saturday.

    • Guest

      Lloyd always takes the on goal direct free kicks(her shots are not ever really on goal though). She has never displayed the technique shown today by Abily, Majri, or Behringer today. The result is that the US do not come close to scoring on direct free kicks. The last one was an early VT games that took a deflection off the wall. I’m not sure the US has another player who would take those chances consistently or put them on frame consistently. Rapinoe and Heath have shown good technique but they tend to overhit their attempts going for power rather than a smooth stroke. I’d still have someone take them over Lloyd though since her shots almost always go out of play. Certainties in life: Death, taxes, Lloyd’s free kicks will sail over the bar.

      • Steglitz49

        Tobin did more than OK with her monster freekick in the 2013 Championship final but I don’t know if she is consistent enough.

        Maybe your name has to start with an M? Like Miyama and Mjelde?

      • Timber Dave

        Lloyd’s penalty kicks do that sometimes too:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dkgRU2Stek

        • JL

          That was one time. She’s been money ever since.

        • guest

          Good News!!! carli lloyd’s 2011 world cup final penalty kick ball has been located on the surface of Mars by the Curiosity Rover. Japan has put in an official request to Nasa to return the ball back to Earth. the carli lloyd ball will be preserved and put on display by Japan as a national historic object.

    • Guest
    • truf

      Tobin had a couple open looks on goal. I’m really not a fan of her being the sole player in the forward position. She’s not a finisher.

      • guest

        Tobin has never been played as a lone forward for the NT so I’m not really sure what you are talking about.

    • HOFCToDi

      How many FIFA Women’s World Cups have the France women’s national football team won? How many Olympic medals has the France women’s national team won?

      • Steglitz49

        There is always a first time. Japan went from nothing to world champions in 2011.

        • HOFCToDi

          How much did Pia Sundhage pay off the RSA goalkeeper to knock the ball into her own net?

      • Max

        France is one of tomato can teams to me. None, zero.

    • HOFCToDi

      Who is the only player in Olympic history to score an “olimpico”?

      • Ashley C

        Your obssesseion with France is unhealthy, pal.

        • Steglitz49

          He probably reads their letters too.

    • HOFCToDi

      Who is the only player in Olympic history to score an “olimpico”?

      How many goals did the France women’s national football team score at the 2016 SheBelieves Cup?

      • Steglitz49

        Olive Oyl?

      • Altius

        Pinoe. Why?

        • Steglitz49

          Against whom?

          • Altius

            Canada.

          • Steglitz49

            Fascinating. Thank you.

          • Buehler tried to get on it but it was already in the net.

  • Gary Diver

    Moving without the ball.

    Why is it that USWNT players get the ball when they seem to be tightly covered? Tobin Heath did seem to find open spaces a number of times in today’s game, but Mallory Pugh often seems squeezed on the sideline with somebody marking her all of the time she gets the ball.

    It would be nice to see USWNT play a more open field game.

    • AMB

      Pugh definitely didn’t have a ton of space for the time she was out there. I wasn’t sure if it was her inability to get into spaces where her teammates could get her the ball, slow decision making from said teammates, or a combination of the two. Either way, she probably had less than half the touches she did in the 1st half of the CRC game (not that that’s a basis for comparison) and therefore wasn’t a factor in the game. We also don’t know if the “ankle knock” she suffered impacted her ability to get away from defenders.

      • guest

        Costa Rica left an absurd amount of space behind their full backs in the first half. That more than anything was the reason that Pugh was constantly running into open space in that game.

    • Altius

      Within a few minutes of the start, you just had to know Pugh was going to struggle in this game. I hope her injury isn’t more than a knock, but it was a huge relief to see Dunn come onto the pitch. Opened up that right flank with her pacy flair and aggression. Pugh is a remarkable talent, but there may be some games where she doesn’t quite fit. This was one.

  • Gary Diver

    Corner kick and free kick floaters.

    Why can’t women kick corner and free kicks low and with some pace. And why are so many just floated like marshmallows into the arms of the keeper? It gets boring to see corner kick after corner kick being floated into the keeper’s arms. These are wasted opportunities.

    • Guest

      A ground corner or free kick with numbers stacked in the box has a high chance of being cut out

    • HOFCToDi

      How many goals did the France women’s national football team score from corner kicks in the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup?

      youtube.com/watch?v=LbMJM8caT7E

    • HOFCToDi

      How many goals did the France women’s national football team score from corner kicks in the final of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup?

      youtube.com/watch?v=FluNg_FMfzg

    • Max

      Because they learned from your mom. Go USA!!!

  • Paul Klee

    Shocking: Becky Sauerbrunn named Budweiser player of the match.!

    • guest

      Well Brunn is from St Louis so maybe a home town “Bud” favorite

      • Steglitz49

        Was Chalups ever Budweiser lady of the match?

        • guest

          Yes (perhaps multiple times)
          most recently the Sat April 4, 2015
          USWNT 4-0 win over New Zealand WNT
          the match was played in Busch Stadium in St Louis
          Budweiser Woman of the Match: Lori Chalupny

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Does she drink the stuff or turn to a Zeunert when the spirit falls upon her? Maybe prefers a glass of Mondavi?

          • AlexH

            I read recently that beer is a good recovery beverage. Leave it to science to confirm what we weekend soccer warriors have known for decades!

          • Steglitz49

            There is a Dutch beer with the name Forbidden Fruit in translation. The label has Adam and Eve on it. The Dutch recommend it for nursing mothers.

          • FlyingSquirrel42

            IIRC, she did in fact score a goal in that game.

      • Paul Klee
      • Paul Klee

        Endorser

    • NYRick

      Is that true, Brunn was the Bud player of the match? Seriously? That player of the match thing they do is so bogus, it’s beyond ridiculous. Yet the HOFDi guy is always citing it over and over.

      And speaking of Brunn, she had a howler of a bad pass in her end back to I think KO that was 10 yards wide of her and went out of bounds too.

    • Bruce

      I thought it should have been Tobin.

    • brdn08

      The correct choice, By far the best player on the field last night with the most responsibility.She literally was playing both defensive positions on her half of the field Kling rarely dropped back into defense. No other player in the world is having to do the work thy are asking of her.

      • Paul Klee

        She’s almost always the best player on the field.

  • Hans Castorp

    Tobin is a good player but man does she die in front of goal.

    • guest

      I don’t disagree that Heath is very far from a clinical finisher but she didn’t exactly miss any golden opportunities today. She had maybe 2 half chance, if you can call them that, vollies and Dunn’s cross was too near the keeper.

    • BRA 4 vs SWE 0 OLIMPÍADAS

      zi-ka

  • HOFCToDi

    Three takeaways from the USWNT’s Olympic-opening win over New Zealand

    goal.com/en-us/news/11102/us-womens-team/2016/08/03/26202732/three-takeaways-from-the-uswnts-olympic-opening-win-over-new?ICID=SP_HN_1

    • Gary Diver

      So the loser of Saturday’s USWNT-France’s game may have to play Germany in the QF? Winning this game is paramount.

    • Gary Diver

      Viewers of Goal.com can predict the score of the USWNT-France game and the top two predictions are 4-0 and 0-0. I’d like to hear the reasons anybody would think USWNT will beat France 4-0.

      • Steglitz49

        Because they are French?

      • Timber Dave

        I’m guessing 2-2 or 2-1, and if it’s a win, I don’t know who will win.

      • I am predicting a 1-0 US win. Late game goal.

        • Gary Diver

          I predict it is going to be a very intense game for both players and fans.

          • I am already nervous. But those are the games I love, even if I hate it the whole time it’s happening.

          • Gary Diver

            I will tell you this. If USWNT goes to penalties in any knockout game, I will not watch it live for fear of a heart attack.

          • I will watch and still fear for a heart attack. But I wouldn’t be able to turn it off. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

      • Lorehead

        I’d put the U.S. as two-to-one favorites. Their last five games against France were an 1–0 win, a 2–0 win, an 0–2 loss, a draw and a 1–0 win. So, a one-goal U.S. victory?

  • MurderOnZidanesFloor

    “It will be interesting to see how Ellis and the USWNT come out Saturday against France, who has been particularly susceptible to high pressure in previous meetings.”

    Where does this myth come from? When was France ‘particularly susceptible’ to the US pressing them? I’d argue they and Japan are the sides least vulnerable to pressing from the opponents due to the technically gifted midfielders they have.

    • Andy

      From what I’ve seen France is able to play out of a high press so they’re not susceptible immediately, but they seem to tire quickly. A high press is a way of forcing both teams to run more which gives the US who have more endurance the edge.

      • MurderOnZidanesFloor

        That’s a fair point, although at the SBC they weren’t as fresh as the other sides at the tournament, having played in French cup games just before flying out to the US.

        • Where does this myth come from? When was France ‘particularly susceptible’ to the US pressing them?… It’s NO myth, It’s reality unless you are in denial or really don’t understand soccer. When? Algarve Cup Final, the high pressure disjointed them and they lost the midfield, even possession to a great degree. When? SB Cup: They simply didn’t have the fitness necessary to keep up with the US for 90 minutes and that game was a tale of 2 halves. If France thinks that having a good first half with chances (that Solo stopped because she’s a good GK) is enough to beat the US, they are facing a rude awakening. France at the SB cup had a good first half and faded away in the Second half simply because they couldn’t keep up fitness-wise. Is their fitness level better now? who knows? On the game with Colombia they slowed down a lot on the 2nd half, but it may well be to conserve energy so we don’t know.

          • MurderOnZidanesFloor

            Lol. What a load of nonsense. Acting like creating chances isn’t key to winning football matches. I’m sure France would do much better if they didn’t ever create chances! In reality they’d have likely won the game had they taken the chances they created in the first half. We’ve already addressed the ‘fitness issues’, the French players who play domestically in France were on their 3rd game in a week, whereas the US had only played England within that time frame.

  • dw

    re: #1: Width is all the US has. Ray has for once come up with some good concepts in this article. If I were a competent opponent, I would defend the flanks and make the US attack the center, where I believe they are much less lethal.

    re #2: High pressure results in lesser teams like the Ferns being penned in for most of the game, which negates the US’s biggest strength: speed. (Well offensive speed, when you are penning in your opponent, the other side of that strength, defensive speed is on display as a tomato can opponent tries to break out). So no high press is better tactics from Ellis, IMO.

    The luxury that USWNT has (or several among many) is that for all their supposed weaknesses (diehards here can rattle off several), no opposing WNT really exists at a level high enough to attack those weaknesses. This is the reason why USWNT does not need exceptional coaching, especially when they continue to have exceptional training. The other important luxury is that their best centerback and keeper can shut out all non-top 10 opponents by themselves, and half the top 10 on a good day. So even when you don’t have a great game at the attacking end, you still can rest somewhat comfortably knowing that Broon and Hope (and the rest of the defense, but honestly, they’re there to keep the ball getting back to Broon/Hope, and they do an excellent job of that, as well) will keep points alive in every single important match.

    • x

      “Defend Heath, Pugh, and/or Dunn on the flanks” is an easy strategy to state but a really, really hard one to enact.

      I guess that’s kind of what you’re saying when you mention the opponents aren’t good enough to take advantage, though.

      • dw

        As the author states, withdraw the wingers to defend, force the ball into the middle of the field, and take your chances with Abily, Necib (Steg don’t go there), and Henry vs. CL, Long, and Brian. Leave LeSommay out on the island. You get an additional potential attack option if/when Kling moves up on an overlap and you can try to play Thomis into the space behind. In theory it’s not that hard to execute. Ellis’ teams have been very strong on the flank and comparitively weaker in the middle, so I would make US play away from their strength and into FRA’s.

  • Gary Diver

    WoSo refereeing has been an Achilles’ heel. What was the quality of the refereeing in yesterday’s games?

    • Guestmode 2.0

      Good. Bar the miscalled penalty in the Canada-Australia game, the refereeing has definitely improved since the World Cup.

      • Steglitz49

        Germany might not agree.

    • MurderOnZidanesFloor

      Not too bad from what I saw… Canada’s penalty wasn’t a penalty, the ref let too much go in ZIM vs GER, and there were a few mistakes in the other two games I watched but nothing of significance. None of the games were decided by poor officiating so there is that at least.

    • Timber Dave

      The Ref in the US-NZ game seemed timid. There were card-worthy challenges early on for which she only gave the player a talking-to…. took a long time for the cards to come out, and this probably helped NZ give a knock to Mallory Pugh. The calling of fouls was generally good, it was just the yellow cards that took too long.

      • Mal’s knock came from landing wrong going up for a header. She came down weird on her ankle and immediately knelt down and grabbed it, I think somewhere before the first 15 minutes.

  • Gary Diver

    USWNT Midfield

    Allie Long seemed to me to play a good game. Should she be a starter throughout the tournament? What is the best USWNT midfield combinations?

    • Ashley C

      Really? I thought Long was poor minus a few moments.

      • I did too. Just seemed like an off day for her.

      • Guest1

        New Zealand created zero offense? DM doing their job to me. Ashley never liked Allie Long anyways.

      • Guest

        She seemed to hold well and allowed for the attack to take place. While nothing she was doing was flashy or noteworthy, she was holding. If you put Horan there, you get more turnovers and less of a holding presence.

      • David K Anderson

        I think just the opposite: Long was defensively effective, and gave one of the best overall performances. Yeah, I know: my objectivity is suspect with Thorns players…but being as objective as I can manage, Allie put in an excellent shift.

        • kernel_thai

          I think it is more important to balance the minutes in the group. Could easily see Brian Horan start against France and Long Horan start against Colombia. Then use the best combinations in the knockout rounds.

    • Altius

      She shouldn’t be the deepest-lying mid. That has to be Morgan Brian. Long, because she doesn’t have her head on a swivel, can often be caught unaware in possession and stripped of the ball. Horrible place to lose it. She also doesn’t have the vision or the passing to dictate the game.

      However, Long is solid and industrious and can pose a threat to goal. If she plays, she’s got to be box-to-box. Leave the deep-lying playmaker spot to Brian.

      • Tony

        Ellis doesn’t seem agree with you. That is where Long has been playing. Internet coach.

        • Altius

          …yes. That’s why I made that remark, because Long HAS been playing there. IMO, not as effective as a fit Morgan Brian.

          • Jim

            Basically they rather have Brian attacking then Horan in central midfield. How I see it. Horan is not even a center midfielder. At least Long has played that position her whole life.

          • Altius

            Horan is a natural striker with excellent vision. Defensively, she can be suspect. That reads to me like she should be playing attacking mid.

            Long is reliable, sound in both attack and defense, industrious, and tough. But she gets caught unaware and lacks the natural vision and passing game to transition quickly or run the game. That reads to me like a center mid, box-to-box.

            Brian has tremendous positioning, great vision and a penetrating, long-range passing game. She’s also quite capable in stripping the ball from the opponent and turning quickly to spring a counter-attack. That reads to me like a deep-lying playmaker.

            (These are just footballing opinions.)

          • Steglitz49

            Ms Horan is a true #9.

          • Altius

            Steglitz, do you refer to Iniesta as “Mr. Iniesta”?

          • Steglitz49

            No.

          • Altius

            Huh…that’s weird.

            Why wouldn’t you afford him the same respect as Ms. Horan?

          • Steglitz49

            It has been a while since I watched Wimbledon but my memory is that the umpires say “Advantage Borg” but “Game Mrs Jones” or “Set Miss Graf” but it has been a while. Maybe it went out with the wooden rackets or the closeable roof.

          • Altius

            These aren’t tennis players. You’re not an umpire.

            FYI, it’s condescending. Every time. It comes across like shaking one person’s hand and then turning to the other and patting them on the head.

          • And I’m not sure we will ever see her there on the NT. At least not while Alex is around.

          • Steglitz49

            The obvious partner for Alex is Lindsey.

          • Bruce

            And there is the rub. Brian doesn’t seem fit or ready to commit to physical play at this point. Where do you put a player like that?

          • Altius

            I’d still play her at DM. Maybe not a full 90, but I think she’ll be up to speed soon, and moreso in that position than at attacking mid.

          • Bruce

            Not one contested ball or tackle in 65 minutes yesterday. Minimal movement when she was playing the position with box to box responsibilities. I don’t think she feels ready.

      • Bill

        What are you talking about? Morgan Brian is attacking midfielder, that has played holding midfielder because Ellis wont call up a true defensive midfielder.

        • Altius

          And she’s done some brilliant work in that deep position, better than anyone else on the existing team. So despite what she “is,” the team would benefit immensely from her in that role. Do my points about Long and Brian’s attributes read false to you?

  • Gary Diver

    Substitutions

    With a tight schedule, having only 3 match substitutions is going to play a major role. Should Ellis stay with the same player combinations Brian/Horan, Pugh/Dunn, and Morgan/Press? That would leave everybody else permanently on the bench except for the Colombia game.

    • Katie

      I do wonder if it was in the original plan to have Tobin go 90 yesterday. I thought she and Moe would have played about the same amount of time yesterday, I’d guess Pugh’s injury played a factor in that.

      Will be interesting to see what she does Saturday, I doubt Tobin will go 90 again. if Pugh can’t go, KO moves to midfield when Tobin comes out? Or maybe Press.

      • I’d say Tobin plays 90 and then will rest or sub out against Columbia, and Dunn starts. Press will probably get more than 10 minutes (she should).

        • Timber Dave

          Depends on the game. If the US is behind or the game is close, Heath stays in. If we’re ahead by a couple goals — which seems unlikely but who knows — maybe she gets some rest.

          • mockmook

            I don’t think Tobin is currently fit for 90 in back to back games with short rest.

          • I wouldn’t underestimate her.

          • mockmook

            If she is that fit, then she should have started against Costa Rica.

      • AlexH

        Tobin is a beep-test marauder (drink). If her knock is healed there is no reason that she can’t go another 90.

    • Terry Lash

      There is no requirement that the starting 11 has to be the same from game to game. By changing starting lineups, everyone in principle has a chance to play and get rested. I doubt that Jill Ellis will manage the team in that manner, but I do expect some variation in starting lineups, in part to rest players or give more players experience.

      • Gary Diver

        I realize what you are saying that I why I mentioned the Colombia game where we might even see Whitney Engen.

        The match variations probably will be variations of Brian/Horan, Pugh/Dunn, and Morgan/Press.

        • Steglitz49

          The country is called Colombia. Columbia is a varsity in Manhattan.

          • Gary Diver

            Thanks and I’ve correct it. But I did get it right in the earlier post:)

  • Gary Diver

    Goal line technology

    Are they using goal line technology like they did during WC15? It looks like they gave Nilla Fischer credit for the Swedish goal when it obviously was an own goal by the South African goalie Barker, who swatted the ball back into the field after it had crossed the goal line.

    Question: If a ball crosses the goal line but is swatted back into the field before touching the ground, is it a goal?

    • Terry Lash

      No. No.

      • Gary Diver

        No goal line technology?

        So if the Fischer had not kneed the ball in the goal, Sweden would not have won the game even though the ball had gone over the goal line in the air? If so, that is very disturbing.

        • Terry Lash

          That’s why folks are interested in using the goal line technology. Refs make mistakes all of the time, but not counting a goal is one of the worst in affecting the outcome.

          • Steglitz49

            Goal line technology was used in the 2014 WC in Brazil so it ought to be possible to use it in the Olympics. It could be that the IOC does not approve of goal line technology. After all, we have 12 ladies teams but 16 men’s.

      • Steglitz49

        Do you mean: Yes! ?

        • Terry Lash

          Correct. Meant no, yes.

    • Steglitz49

      We are asking ourselves the same question and I don’t know.

      I prefer as few goals as possible to be called own goals. It seems against the spirit to declare own goals.

    • Timber Dave

      Absolutely it’s a goal. Touching the ground doesn’t matter; the ball just has to completely cross the plane of the goal line (specifically, the back edge of the goal line).

    • Nicole C.

      If GLT isn’t feasible, maybe we should push for additional referees on the end lines (like in the Euros)

  • Frank

    We learned that the team depends a lot on Tobin Heath. She created the chances for US.

    • She really is the MVP of the team. Nobody else can do what she does and she creates so much for this team. Take anyone else out, and you can replace them and have just as good, if not better skills. Take Tobin out, and our midfield is stalled all over. Here’s hoping she has a huge tournament.

      • Steglitz49

        Maybe Tobin will return to the fleshpots of Paris? Or, try the kitchen in Lyon?

        • David K Anderson

          I hope not! She’s absolutely adored here in Portland. =)

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe Amandine’s coming may keep Tobin put.

      • #1Fan

        i think rapinoe is very similar when fit. But more of a threat from distance. they are the 2 best flank players the US have

        • Definitely agree, and I have almost forgotten how good Rapinoe is when she is fit and 100% because of how well we’ve done without her. Seems like we’ve never had both of them be on top of their game at the same time. Maybe (hopefully) that is still to come.

          • rkmid71

            Thankfully, I would say it happened in semis and finals of the WC. The midfield of Rapinoe, Heath, Holiday and Brian was very good in those games.

          • ARED

            The best midfield the USA has had since at least 2011 but possibly longer. Too bad it only lasted for two matches….lol.

            The midfield beat Japan, not Carli Lloyd (I know, this seems mean, but it’s true. Lloyd deserved the headlines, but let’s not forget how the goals were created).

        • ARED

          I agree -I think Heath creates more for teammates, while Rapinoe creates more for herself. Specifically on the ground and in tight spaces for Heath, and Rapinoe with her shot (and confidence in it).

      • kernel_thai

        It’s still the good and the bad tho more good this season to be sure. On the play where they got the second goal, Heath decided to take on two defenders and lost the ball. Luckily the clear went eight to Long who made a nice entry pass and two quick passes later the team was celebrating.

        • Yes, but I mean everyone loses possession from time to time over a game. She is miles ahead of where she has been in the past. And when she was out with injury, you could really feel how much the midfield was affected.

          • kernel_thai

            If ur taking on one defender ur trying to beat them. If ur taking on more than one ur try to draw them out of shape to open it up for another player. Both r good tactics but if ur drawing players out the key thing is u have to get rid of the ball preferable to player uve made free. One of the problems dogging Heath throughout her career is making bad decisions. Fans arent worried she made a mistakes as all players do. Fans worry she may be reverting back to previous form.

          • ARED

            Some might say Heath has been dogged throughout her career by a national team with midfielders and forwards who don’t understand combination play, smart runs, or even basic “pass and move” ideas…lol.

            So I’m not saying Heath never is at fault, but one of the reasons I usually was frustrated watching the USWNT from 2007-2015 is because players like Holiday and Heath are constantly looking for passes/runs which simply don’t come -and likewise, they make runs and find spaces but then don’t receive the ball. Why bother reading the game when you can just chip it high/long for Wambach… ; )

        • AlexH

          I really don’t mind when attacking players take on defenders. The odds are against it working but you only have to beat the odds once to make it worthwhile. Besides it isn’t as if she never passed the ball as evidenced by her assist in the 1st half.

          • rkmid71

            Obviously attacking players need to take on defenders. Preferably working in concert with their teammates. But they need to have a keen sense of the probabilities. 1v1 take your chances. Taking on multiple defenders and ignoring runs of open teammates is not smart. And losing the ball 99 times out of 100 in such situations is not smart. It’s conceding possession, a turnover leading to a potential counter attack. Even if the 1 time in a 100 it works and is spectacular and is shown on ESPN.

      • mockmook

        “Take Tobin out, and our midfield is stalled all over.”

        Only if poorly coached, using poor tactics.

        I submit that the USA could have equally effective midfields with or without Tobin (if you design you Tobin-less midfield properly).

        • ARED

          They could, but not with the current roster…

          (Brian, Long, Horan, Lloyd, Rapinoe, Pugh….it would be lacking without Heath. But if you built from scratch and had time to let it grow you could probably do it. I think Heath plays a huge role in making their usually poor central play a bit better, while also creating and combining on the wing.

    • Timber Dave

      Heath has really been tearing it up in the NWSL this year. Looks like she’s continuing it for the nats. Keep it up!

    • ARED

      Ahem….”re-learned”. ; )

  • Gary Diver

    Congestion

    Why does there seem so much congestion in the USWNT midfield when there also seems to be a lot of congestion on the flanks. Yesterday Pugh could barely breathe. I don’t understand how there can be congestion everywhere.

    • AlexH

      It’s because our gals are so fast they can be in 2 places at once. Once they get the kinks worked out it should work well for them, but I can’t promise the same for the fabric of the universe and the space-time continuum.

    • Bruce

      Easy. No off ball movement.

      • Gary Diver

        Just what I was thinking. Is this a coaching issue? Honestly, Brazil and France were moving the ball around pretty smoothly.

        • #1Fan

          i dont understand. They are the world champions. What coaching issue are we concerned about?

          • Gary Diver

            “What coaching issue are we concerned about?”

            1. Static players

            2. Midfield and flanks both seem always congested

            3. Lack of off-the-ball movement by players

          • ARED

            I believe they have been much better in all of these areas after “the changes” at the WC. Wambach was the huge problem, other players sometimes were and also the fact that the team never played without the slow, static players.

            I believe Lloyd is the biggest factor in their play being slow and lacking movement now. I thought she did ok against NZ but still caused several giveaways (including offside and cheap fouls committed). Some obviously feel she is worth these downsides (of fail to see them) due to her ability on set pieces -and it appears Ellis is in that mind.

          • Gary Diver

            “I don’t understand. They are the world champions.”

            Did being world champions help Germany in Euro 16?

          • Steglitz49

            Euro-16 was all about Iceland, the Volcano and Wales. Lagerbäck is having the time of his life as an expert commentator in Rio.

          • #1Fan

            No. But coaching does not mask player performance or the bounce of the ball. You suggest it’s coaching. She was good enough to win the biggest prize.

          • Or the players were, despite the coach..

      • ARED

        Easy. (Carli Lloyd). ; )

        • kernel_thai

          Or at least Lloyd has somehow been given a free role

          • ARED

            I’m not quite sure I get what you are saying here…?

            My point was that Lloyd does not move very well off the ball and also ignores her teammates off the ball runs, which leads to hesitancy and eventually the runs stop being made. So while I value the qualities she offers, I think it is generally overlooked as to the negative effect she has on build up, possession, and combination play with her teammates.

          • rkmid71

            Also, it’s a combination of ponderous speed of thought and underdeveloped passing quality or technique. I think both a function of her mentality or natural instinct which has always been self focused, not as a creator for others. She’s not one you think of making players around her better. I highly doubt it’s something that can be changed much this late in her career and all her comments are about her individual goals, not the team, her teammates, etc. It’s like our ball bearings are full of grit instead of smooth as silk or that we are unnecessarily making our offense less potent than it otherwise could be. I do value what she brings in toughness, intensity, but believe it would be better for the team if she brought that mentality in a different role (certainly less minutes) at this stage in her career. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem willing to do that and JE is going along for now.

          • ARED

            Well said. “ponderous speed of thought” -haha….

            “unnecessarily making our offense less potent than it otherwise could be.” -Yes, that is how I’ve always felt about Wambach and Lloyd (since 2010 at least).

            I believe it was the Colombia match where Long played and scored two goals that Lloyd played about 50 minutes like a perfect team player. I was shocked having seen it only rarely before, but it proved what I’ve always felt -that she can play for the team and pass early/often. But I don’t think she’s “world class” at it. So the team plays way better that way, but her value is diminished. It’s a tough thing when that happens as a player, and that is where you need management to be open, honest, and put the team of the nation above any single player’s pride.

            She actually is a player I think of as making players around her worse. Which I don’t say lightly, but it is difficult to think of any midfielders who excelled playing with Lloyd, aside from Boxx in a supporting role. We see more teamwork and relationship from Long with Brian, Heath, Morgan, Klingenberg, etc, than Lloyd has with any of them and she’s barely even played on the team….

    • brdn08

      The NT was coasting. No real high pressure. No real drawn up set pieces. Really conservative as far as shifts and interplay. It looked like they were doing just enough to get by and New Zealand could do nothing about it.

  • Gary Diver

    Strategy

    Should USWNT patiently and slowly move the ball upfield with a lot of back-and-forth passes or should they attempt to quickly move the ball upfield with a minimal number of passes?

    • Steglitz49

      Whatever floats their boat.

    • David K Anderson

      Yes.

    • rkmid71

      Both. You can do anything you want against bad teams. Against good teams and defenses, you can’t force things and you have to work together. You have to be patient. You want to keep the defense guessing. Force them to defend for long periods. It’s mentally exhausting. Force them to adjust, move, make decisions, maintain their shape. And if and when they leave a gap or space, attack as quickly, directly, with as few passes as possible. Sauerbrunn is good at direct passes to the forwards. And then the midfielders should be making runs to give those forwards options before they get double teamed. If I’m a midfielder or defender, I’m constantly looking for ways to get the ball to Morgan in space. And now Pugh and Dunn also which prevents them from double teaming Morgan so much. The US has tremendous speed. Chipped balls behind the defense or quick 1-2 passes. If our players are unselfish and work together, they will be very difficult to stop. On the other hand, if players dwell on the ball, can’t make decisions quickly, little movement — the games will turn into a slugfest. Take a look at the April 6 Colombia friendly — that’s the best I’ve seen them play from an attacking perspective no matter the competition. And that was despite not great weather conditions.

  • AlexH

    I learned that Kling needs to spend a few days after the Olympics training with the AYSO. I am sure the kids would happily teach her how to throw in a soccer ball in exchange for Kling teaching them how to become world class fullbacks.

    • Tim

      Her throw ins have always sucked. Throws ball really high for head. Does it all time doesn’t even look most time. Usually a turnover. She takes forever throw a ball in.

      • Gary Diver

        Lucky that “slip” did not occur in a knock-out game. Not only was it silly, Klingenberg knew it made her look silly.

        • ARED

          It was funny/silly, but not an important play. In your own half it could be bothersome, but even still a turnover in the middle of the field will always be more dangerous -and usually much more preventable.

        • David K Anderson

          And she has no problem looking silly…she makes delightful videos, and they’re often quite self-deprecating. But she’s going to hear it from her teammates about that throw-in for a long time. And when she gets back here to Portland, too (Emily Menges is probably already preparing the prank).

        • kernel_thai

          Well she had two of them. Not sure when the last time I saw that was at this level.

      • ARED

        This is in reference to when she dropped the ball forward into play, not actually criticizing her throw ins.

        (Maybe you know that, and I agree more than once the USA seems to be inefficient with restarts including throw ins, but I believe AlexH was just joking here).

        • kernel_thai

          In her big interview Ellis pointed out that they had 100% on throw in efficiency in a match and the team gave itself a standing ovation. Small steps I guess 🙂

          • ARED

            Haha, yeah I did see that -and cringed…lol. I don’t consider throw ins as such a large issue. Of course you should be efficient and try not to give the ball away, but by nature it is a difficult task to keep possession (a slow, high ball to control, usually surrounded by opponents).

            At the highest levels it becomes a bit easier, but even still I should think focusing on keeping possession when passing in the midfield was more important….but to be fair, Ellis did mention things like that as well.

        • AlexH

          It wasn’t only the slip, she also had a foul throw in the second half. I am joking in the sense that I don’t think it is a big issue, but it is funny that a player of Kling’s ability has trouble mastering such a basic skill.

          • ARED

            Ah, I don’t know if I caught the foul throw. I did see her arguing for a few throw in decisions and over the placement of the throws, which seems normal lol.

  • AlexH

    The only thing I didn’t really like about the way the US played was when they are under pressure and play the ball back to the defenders it takes the defenders way to long to move the ball. They take a second to settle the ball, then they look around, then they wind up and finally they make a pass. That will cause problems against a top team. If the backs could move the ball quickly and switch the fields they could absolutely destroy the legs of a pressing team after 20 or 30 minutes.

    • #1Fan

      where is the top team?

      • Steglitz49

        Germany, Brazil and France, maybe even Sweden if they can find their groove.

        • #1Fan

          i cannot see ANY of those teams pressing high for 90 mins

          • Gary Diver

            The “90 minute rule” may not come into play. If German, Brazil, or France scores first, then tactics on all sides will immediately change.

          • ARED

            I agree in general, but adding in the context of the possession battle I believe France, and Brazil can do it (not will, but can). Not sure about Germany at this point, Japan always could.

            They can press hard/high for 90 minutes if they have 60% of possession, and play within the game (so don’t actually press every single time, only when it’s on).

        • Me

          Brazil and France are tomato can teams. Will be losers as always

      • Me

        None. They are tomato can teams. Look at head to head match ups. Uswnt vs any team. How many times Japan beat uswnt in 30+ games? Same like Germany, Canada, Australia, Brazil… No top teams. Moron

    • ARED

      I agree -but I thought they were good compared to their standard against NZ. And that standard has improved drastically in 2016. I think Allie Long has a lot to do with that.

  • Jill needs to figure out a way to get Morgan, Press and Lloyd in the starting XI together. I think it should look mostly like a 4-4-2 diamond, with all three taking turns to drop into the midfield as needed, Press and Lloyd would be alternating between essentially the 8 and 10 roles, but it doesn’t have to be a set thing. Jill talks about wanting fluid movement, this would give it to her.

    Press (10) Morgan (9)
    ………..Lloyd (8)……..
    11………………………7
    …………….6……………
    4……….3……..2…….5
    ……………1…………….

    We see Morgan drop into the midfield for service as well on a regular basis.

    • Timber Dave

      Just say no. A diamond takes a long time to get right, with complicated rotations. Very few national teams have the time to learn it, and USWNT is not a good candidate.

      • Well then, can Press please play in the 10 instead of Carli?

        • Steglitz49

          No.

        • Guest

          One can dream

      • Steglitz49

        “Diamonds are a girl’s best friends.”

      • Maybe were not playing a diamond always, but we already are mostly playing a 4-4-2, even though US Soccer refuses to list the line-up card that way. If you watch any of the past 6 friendlies, whoever is on the field with Morgan is always a 2nd forward, and both forwards drop into the midfield to receive passes when appropriate.

    • ARED

      I think if you choose to have Lloyd on the field (I understand most would), then they could play a 4-1-3-2 (really just a 4-4-2 with Long holding). I don’t personally like Lloyd in the midfield even as a CAM, but I cannot see any good reason not to play Press with Morgan up top, and I’d sacrifice Brian to do it (based on their current system). This is close to what you posted, depending on roles/interpretation.

      Really though, the obvious trade-off is Lloyd-Press, which is why Press is often a hot topic.

      • With the formation I posted, this is who I’d line up if everyone is healthy..

        Press … Morgan…
        …..Carli………
        Pugh………Heath
        ……..Brian………
        Kling…Brunn….JJ…KO
        …..Solo……………..

        I could have just posted it initially, but my main point was how to get those 3 on the field together… the supporting cast is always up for debate.

        • NYRick

          The lineup you post is the lineup I’d like to see as well. Yes, even with Carli. I think you really have to go out of your way to lose with that lineup with first off the bench Dunn. And Horan and Long to add support if needed as the subs.

          • mockmook

            Not sure if the amount of defending by Pugh and Heath in the Diamond suits their games. Prefer them in the 4-2-3-1

            Also, with the games being so close together, the 4-2-3-1 seems the safer bet defensively — plenty of cover in the midfield for tired mistakes, and for players who may not be 100% fit.

    • brdn08

      Having Press on the field isn’t worth not having Brian or Horan on the field. Press does’t balls in the air and we know Carli isn’t going to play a deep seated position so that leaves Long, Brian, or Horan by themselvs with nearly a third of the field to cover, recipe for disaster. Playing Press over Dunn, Heath, or Pugh simply is’t an option she’s simply not on their level on the wing.

      • Ok, so keep Press in the 8 and Carli in the 10. Press has gotten a lot better at tracking back to play defense and her distribution is better than a lot of people give her credit for. If it were me, I’d start Press over Horan for sure, and Brian if she’s playing the 8 and Long is the 6.

        Ideally though, I’d keep Brian as the 6.

        • kernel_thai

          The problem here is just time distribution and some very absurd notions about how much some players need to be on the pitch. The best case situation for Press is spot starts and backup for Morgan and Lloyd. Unless she simply catches fire I think this is the most u can hope for. The question often raised is why Morgan and Lloyd got 170 minutes. Lloyd could have easily come off at 60 with a two goal lead being 30 something and having short recovery between matches. U bring Press on and give her 10 minutes playing behind Morgan then take Morgan off at 70, push Press up and put Horan behind her. It not only gives some rest to ur two key attackers but Morgan – Press and Press – Horan give opponents two more things to worry about.

          • Yep I agree with all of this. I know that spot starts and sub appearances are what we are going to get with Press. Most of this is just wishful thinking. And I think Press is good with her role on the team and will excel as a super sub. I just think we are not playing our best players as much as we can. But such is life on an extremely stacked and talented team.

          • kernel_thai

            It’s about opportunity and seizing it not minutes. I 2011 WC Morgan had zero starts and mostly came on as a late sub for Rodriguez. But she parlayed her time into two huge goals and an assist and came out of the tournament as the young star of the team. For Press it about making the most of her chances.

          • NYRick

            True to what you are saying and some strikers do have a great knack for coming on late and getting the big goal. But scorers generally need to get in the flow of a match and get some touches to really be effective.

            Also I get the Morgan 2011 analogy and kudos to her for seizing her opportunity in a big spot. But everyone who follows the team knows that ARod starting over Morgan (even the 21 year old Morgan) was a decision by Pia that really is quite up there in unison with some of the mind numbing calls by Ellis. In addition, I think Morgan (and her skill set, speed etc.) does make her the perfect 20 minute late striker to insert. And let’s not forget the Holiday injury in the 2011 WC final that put Morgan in the game at halftime. I believed she scored her goal in the 71st minute breaking a 0-0 tie, but coming on directly at halftime gave her a chance to get some flow and get her feet planted in the match. Once again, all the credit to her that match, she was great. Had a great assist to Abby for a 2-1 lead as well.

          • NYRick

            Press won’t start against France. That’s a given that we know. But let’s say by some miracle she actually does start (with Lloyd and Morgan on the pitch as well) and scores two goals against France in a 2-1 win on Saturday.

            Here’s an interesting question then: does this warrant Press starting the knockout games (at least the first one)? I would say that if she doesn’t, that’s a full frontal conspiracy by Ellis.

        • brdn08

          If you can’t win balls in the air, you’re useless in central midfield and will be ceding possession to the other side again and again.

        • mockmook

          Why did you accept brdn08’s premises — you had Press in a position where she wouldn’t necessarily take minutes from Dunn, Heath, or Pugh.

          And, if Lloyd won’t defend, the answer is to replace Lloyd.

          • You are right. And that’s what I want – Press for Lloyd. But then that little voice in my head says “you know that’s not going to happen”.. but this is my ideal line up so, yep. Press in the 10.

  • BRA 4 vs SWE 0 OLIMPÍADAS

    OÊOÊOÊOLÁ ZIKA ZIKA

  • Gary Diver

    “Germany’s Simone Laudehr suffered a tear to the outer ligament in her ankle due to a nasty tackle by a Zimbabwe player. The ref didn’t even call the foul, never mind that it was obvious, and should have earned the Zimbabwe player a yellow card. Sad and incomprehensible at the same time.” quoting Peter from another thread

    Laudehr may have suffer a career-ending injury and no foul! WoSo refereeing strikes again. Can you imagine what we would be talking about today if that foul occurred on Mallory Pugh? Again and again during Friendlies we’ve seen tomato cans committing over-the-top fouls against USWNT players. This is not good for WoSo.

    P.S. In the past 48 hours, EQ has had too many story threads – it is hard to remember where I saw something written.

    • Steglitz49

      Foreign players do not get the attention of domestic players. How many on the EQ know what position Laudehr plays or where she was born and if she has a boyfriend? Likewise Jessica Samuelsson, though her injury probably was not owed to a foul, at least not a dirty one.

      • Bruce

        I was with you up until “boyfriend”.

        • Steglitz49

          Norwegian media have been all abuzz about Heidi Weng’s new boyfriend. It is all grist to the newsmill. Also, there is a need to flesh out the cardboard characters we see on the screen. Real lives lived by real young ladies who play soccer.

          • David K Anderson

            I knew she’s a midfielder, but I very seldom pay any attention to the personal lives of players unless they’re particular favorites of mine.

          • Steglitz49

            I think that was my point.

  • Gary Diver

    Importance of Saturday’s USWNT/France Game

    USWNT has won big games in big tournaments partly because they psychologically intimate their opposition. The psychological fallout of Saturday’s game may be the biggest consequence of the final result. I think it is very important to the outcome of this tournament for the USWNT to make a statement in this game.

    • AlexH

      Yes and about 90% ill be of the, “Jill is an idiot for not putting (insert favorite player here) instead of playing (insert loathed player here)” variety.

      • rkmid71

        So. The criticism might be right. And that’s part of the job. For the moment, JE can brush off any criticism as the team is WC champs, has been on a winning streak in 2016, won SBC games against strong teams, etc. Though the coach is not on the field, the coach selects the starters, positions, subs, tactics, etc. With all the US talent and depth, there is no excuse. It’s a tough job. The US team should not just win, but dominate. Not just the USWNT, but the YNTs as well. That they went 16 yrs without winning the WC, I put that on the coaches and player selection more than anything.

        • Gary Diver

          “The US team should not just win, but dominate. Not just the USWNT, but the YNTs as well.”

          Well said and I agree completely. The US has 10 times the population of Canada and about the same population as Europe, but our team’s performance does not match the resources it has to work with, especially when taking in account the advantages of Title IX. American teams should be performing better across the board.

          • ARED

            I agree 100%, except about the population of Europe…

            Google says: 742.5 million (Europe) and 318.9 (USA). ; )

          • Steglitz49

            Europe or UEFA?

            My figure for Europe is about 450 m and UEFA about 370 m. I guess all those refugees may have changed the math a bit.

          • Gary Diver

            Thanks for pointing out that “Europe” can mean different things to different people. I was thinking of UEFA as Steg nicely suggested.

          • ARED

            Yeah, it’s all relative I suppose… ; )

          • NYRick

            But by that reasoning, why isn’t the men’s team dominating teams like Germany and France with the population difference?

            For the US women, it is all about Title IX. That is probably the 80%+ advantage they have always had in the sport. That obviously changed everything for women’s athletics in the country and their sport of choice (from a team standpoint anyway) was soccer.

        • kernel_thai

          Ellis continues to get help from the soccer gods. While of course they need a healthy Pugh for the knockout rounds, I could have easily seen Dunn getting 5 meaningless minutes instead 40 that got her feet firmly on the ground. It’s shame Press didnt catch the same break.

  • Ando91881

    TV ratings for the game were good. Twice as many viewers as game 1 four years ago. I would expect game 2 to average 1.7 million viewers. Being on a Saturday and against a strong opponent.

    http://nbcsportsgrouppressbox.com/2016/08/04/nbcsn-averages-1-3-million-viewers-for-u-s-womens-soccer-victory-to-open-rio-olympics-up-107-from-2012-london-opener/

    • Gary Diver

      If viewership was proportional to the importance of a game, the USWNT/France game viewership should be off the charts, but most USWNT “fans” unfortunately don’t follow WoSo in general.

      • Ando91881

        My ratings predictions are basically that each game will get slightly higher ratings than the previous one. Just like what happened in the Women’s World Cup. Of course, these games are stuck on NBC Sports Network instead of on regular Fox so that limits the audience. Only about 68% of homes in America get NBCSN.

        I’ll say since the first game had 1.3 million viewers, the next will get 1.6 million viewers, and the third will get 1.8 million viewers. I predict the final will get 6.4 million viewers. In 2012 the final had 5 million viewers on NBCSN.

        • Steglitz49

          If the US is not in the final the viewing will be 1 million if not zero. The men’s final will have decent viewing whoever plays in it.

          • Ando91881

            Yes, I am assuming the 6 million viewers for the final is if the United States is playing in it. Basing that number off of the fact that in 2012 the final had 5 million viewers, and there seems to be a slight bump in interest this year because of winning the World Cup.

          • Steglitz49

            The time of the kick-off and the opponents may matter.

          • Gary Diver

            I agree with your implied point that Americans love USWNT but don’t particular care for WoSo. It is a sad, but true paradox.

          • Steglitz49

            Once the MNT start hitting the big time, WoSo will be toast in the US. Those 105,000 who trotted along to Michigan Stadium send a loud and clear message as does expansion of the NWSL by MLS-teams.

          • Ando91881

            When do you expect the USMNT to hit the big time? All of the most athletic kids in America between the ages of 10-18 years old choose basketball, American football, or baseball to specialize in.

          • Steglitz49

            Money. The highest paid male sports person is CR7, whose Portugal just won the Euros. The second highest is Messi, who has just been done for tax evasion.

            How long did it take Japan to become a WoSo superpower?

            Lars Lagerbäck is now spending his August in Rio commentating on WoSo and BroSo and other sports. Many Swedes hope he can be persuaded to take charge of their WNT for Euro-17. Maybe the USSF could make him an offer he can’t refuse or, why not turn to Coleman, the head coach of Wales MNT?

          • rkmid71

            Steg beat me too it. It’s mostly about the money. If you had Premier League type salaries in MLS it would happen. MLS has been growing and improving, but still not close to Euro leagues in terms of player salaries. Concussion concerns for kids playing American football could be a factor. The growing immigrant population is a factor. The fact that 105,000 showed up in Michigan shows the demand for top quality soccer. Soccer needs those quick, fast wide receiver, defensive back, Deion Sanders types that can run 4.2 40s. 6’9″ basketball players aren’t really a factor, except as a goalie. As we have previously discussed, to be a top player, you must have ball skills, acceleration and possess vision (awareness, soccer IQ). To get the ball skills and vision requires those 10 yr olds to spend a lot of time with the ball and playing with friends — like they do now in pickup basketball.

          • mockmook

            Not all.

          • kernel_thai

            And what Olympic events it is up against

          • JL

            The later start times also help.

    • And add to it, after tonight’s Opening Ceremonies, the US masses will actually realize that the Olympics are now happening, and tune in more either way. Weekend, Olympic event, high quality opponent. I expect 2 million.

  • ARED

    Things we learned (but really didn’t we already know them?):

    1) Allie Long has shown in her 11 caps she deserves/deserved the holding role without a doubt -at least until someone really makes a strong push, which only Long has done over the past 4+ years.

    2) Tobin Heath creates and combines as well as anyone in the world.

    3) Mallory Pugh is a great player right now (regardless of potential). I thought that might have been her toughest/worst game, and she was still one of the best players on the field.

    WOTM: Heath and Long can share it for me. Cheers to Portland….

    • David K Anderson

      I’ll get accused of being a Thorns homer, but I agree with your WOTM pick(s). Heath transforms the game. I’ve been following her for years (yes, I let out a yell back in ’13 when she was allocated to the Thorns), and she’s playing the best football of her life right now.

      Long, too. She transformed her game over the last off-season, both embracing the “kinda box-to-box but kinda d-mid” role Ellis likes her in _and_ noticeably improving her speed of play. The latter has been really obvious to me, as that was probably my biggest knock on Allie previously: she was sometimes slow to react to the tactical situation. No more. The post-Olympics Thorns will see a defensive (kinda…) midfield composed of Allie and Amandine Henry. Giddy…

      • kernel_thai

        The best thing about Heath’s continuing success on FKs and CKs is it makes it less likely they will try and force Rapinoe back into the team in a larger role than she is physically able to handle.

      • ARED

        I agree, two players I like a lot. I long believe Holiday was the best USA player, with Morgan the most explosive. But Heath was second best and now with Holiday gone she’s the one for me. Creation, possession, smart play, selfless play, defensive play, etc. Not to even mention the dribbling and flair.

        Long I agree -although I think part of the change was as much a willingness to see herself as that holding or box-to-box player instead of a CAM. She still clearly has the desire to get forward, but in the past maybe she felt she had the right to (ahem…Carli Lloyd), or that the team needed her to -which may have been true at times. Now she seems setled into the role, and trusting of the players around her so she doesn’t try to do too much. Either way, I thought she was certainly good enough to get a real chance in a USA role long ago -as did Sermanni, but not Ellis…

    • brdn08

      Totally disagree. Lauren Holiday was miles better at the position even when she was being asked to handle much more responsibility.

      • ARED

        Well, I don’t really consider it the same role -Holiday was usually strapped to a second holding CM, to both of their detriments. Long is clearly playing as the sole/main holding player. I’m not sure we have seen this regularly from the US in the 4+ years I’ve mentioned -going back to Boxx. I believe that Holiday was the best USA player from 2011-2015, so I agree whatever her role, and as poorly as she was used, she was great.

        My point, is that Boxx should have been on the edge in 2011 and several replacements should have been in the mix, including Long, Lloyd, (Winters/Averbuch/Buz/whoever). But out of the CMs in the picture, which Long barely has been, she has already made that position her own. We’ll see if Ellis keeps her there, and how it goes against better opponents when other midfield weaknesses are more likely to show.

    • mockmook

      1) Buz made a stronger push (only JE was oblivious).

      2) Little? Marta? Henry? etc.

      • ARED

        1) Haha, I mentioned her elsewhere as one who was ignored. I have always believe Long was probably a better fit for the NT, but obviously 11 caps combined makes it impossible to know.

        2) Yes, I rate Heath with/above those. All different styles of great players, but at this moment I believe Heath is at the top when looking for players who both create (goals, chances) and combine (possession, support, team play). Heath does both so well, and I’m not sure who else offers both qualities at her level. Vero perhaps -I’ve often said she’s the best -but we unfortunately don’t get to see her at the top levels of the game.

        • Guest

          Career wise I would say that Heath is pretty far behind Little and Marta in terms of end product and we’ve hardly seen Heath play in a team whose style suited her game. Henry is a stopper/DLP so I have a more difficult time comparing her to the others. I think Heath has been as good as any of those players so for this year though. Pinoe(healthy) and Heath are the only wide players on the NT capable of being a ball dominant players that you can run an offense through. Also, personally, I wish there was less Bazilian in her dribbling. I feel as though Brazilian flair often comes at the cost of being functional and is less direct than I prefer.

          • ARED

            Yes, I think the summary is that Heath has rarely been a focal point or even used for much at all beyond “get some crosses in”, until recently (with the USWNT). So it leaves some interpretation, but yes, I think Heath clearly is at the top level of the game right now regardless of who else might be there. I wasn’t even saying “best in the world” above, just “creates and combines”, but I do believe both are true.

            I don’t know, I’ve seen people complain about Heath’s dribbling/flair before, and generally think they just see her lose the ball and judge her quickly. But if you have a well-rounded game and are aware of when to push the flair (and risk more) and when to be safe it should be encouraged and I think Heath excels in reading and feeling the game, and putting the team above any selfish endeavors. But it seems you are actually saying she should be more aggressive and direct to goal at times, which I would agree is more of a relevant critique. I would have the team play for her to push more and risk more without a doubt -but I think Lloyd, Morgan, (and Rapinoe) are given that role/direction, while others like Heath and Holiday in the past bear more of the “possess, calm the game, then start a new attack” role.

  • ARED

    …”take their chances and hope that they can counter the other way if they get a mistake”…

    This line and a few others makes one wonder how much the author/public knows France. The USA has struggled with France quite a bit over the years (at least compared to other teams), and France has usually held the midfield and possession, with the USA doing as much or more “hoping they can counter”….

    I’m not here to say that France will win the Gold, or that playing well but losing 0-1 is acceptable. But, I think it’s a bit silly to think the USA will be a class above France based on them beating New Zealand with two goals early in halves and none during the open run of play….

    • Steglitz49

      I thought that the US mainly has struggled with Sweden and Japan.

      • ARED

        As I said above, I’m not talking specifically about goals or winning (which France can trouble the USA with), but more about the game itself. I felt the article was suggesting France will be holding on, conceding possession to the USA. History suggests it will be more the opposite (but this USA team is a bit different).

        • Steglitz49

          JE has realized from the WC-15 final that it is easier to win if you score early and preferably twice at least.

          Against South-Africa, Sofia Jakobsson hit the woodwork in the 5th or 6th minute. Had that gone in, Sweden would have been on easy street and might well have won 3-0.

          The US is going to rain down all its considerable firepower from the word go. Once the game feels safe, JE will substitute.

          The refereeing is inconsistent and the US cannot, unlike in OG-12 and WC-15, rely on getting the breaks.

    • brdn08

      Sounded pretty dead on to me. That’s usually how the US gives up goals. It’s rare to see build up from the back through the midfield result in a goal against the US. The US usually gives up goals off turnovers in their defensive half or in scrambles after set pieces.

      • Gary Diver

        Agree.

        USWNT needs to watch their guard against counter-attacks, especially when they are committing their OBs to a slow forward attack.

      • ARED

        But there is a difference between creating a goal (takes 5-60 seconds?) and playing an entire match. The quote makes it seem that France will be holding on for dear life as the USA hold them inside their own area. Does that sound dead on to you?

        That’s the point I’m making -France will be able to play a part in this match, not just defend. Now, as with most WoSo, there is a disheartening lack of goals created from build up play -including the mighty USA. France is brilliant, but find it very difficult at times to convert this into top chances inside the box and Le Sommer does have ups and downs, and Thiney is not there. But many posters here have ripped Morgan, Press, Leroux, Marta, etc. very strongly due to “not finishing” as well.

        As usually, France, USA, or anyone is usually better off to pick up a turnover and attack quickly or on set pieces/crosses relying on power/speed/size instead of quality of play on the ground. It’s just a reality of the women’s game.

  • Gary Diver

    Took Foot Off the Pedal?

    The commentators that I was listening to (CBC) made the observations at the 30 minute mark that USWNT had taken their foot off the pedal. Do people think that is true or did New Zealand make successful adjustments to counter USWNT’s attacking style?

    • I’d say they did just enough to win but didn’t overexert themselves. It was a highly comfortable win, but they probably had another gear in them. I like the way they managed the game, it’s a lot of games in a quick amount of time, save yourselves while you can.

      • Steglitz49

        and not pick up injuries like Sweden and Germany.

        • Gary Diver

          Good point. There is a discussion in the Canadian press about not putting some players on the field against Zimbabwe. Maybe Sinclair should safely watch the game from the bench.

          • AlexH

            It might be a wise move but not for the person that has to tell CS that she is being benched “for her own good.” I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

          • Steglitz49

            I guess Canada can afford to draw with Zimbabwe. Losing might not be a good idea, unlikely though it may seem.

          • Gary Diver

            “I guess Canada can afford to draw with Zimbabwe.”

            In terms of upsets, how would you rate a Zimbabwe draw with Canada?

          • Steglitz49

            Less than Japan winning WC-11. Bigger than France winning OG-16.

        • Well the word is still out on Mal Pugh. Hoping it’s nothing serious as she played on it after.

          • AlexH

            No worries we are well covered at the outside mid position with a fit and in form replacement……….oh wait, nevermind.

          • ha! The worst position to lose someone at right now.. which, of course it had to happen.

          • anon

            Dunn. OHara and Press can play there too. it’s not a big deal.

          • AlexH

            Except that OHara is already our starting FB and in case you haven’t heard it a bizillion times already, it isn’t Press’s natural position 🙂

            I do agree that the position is covered, but that just begs the question of why Jill brought Pinoe to the games if when the starter at her position gets injured, everybody is pointing to players other than her?

          • Huh, actually a great call out. I didn’t think of it like that. Nobody is saying “Pinoe can start” -because lets face it, she probably can’t. Not effectively for 90 minutes anyway. So then were basically going into a game with 2 tactical subs, depending on how the game plays out.

  • Gary Diver

    French Concerns

    Things USWNT need to worry about:

    1. Free kicks
    France remarkably has scored 3 out of their last 5 goals on free kicks. France is VERY dangerous on free kicks.

    2. Defensive lapses and mistakes
    In the SBC game, Becky Sauerbrunn was dispossessed by Élodie Thomis. That could and should have been a lethal mistake.

    3. Eugénie Le Sommer
    For a forward who is not particularly fast, she always seems to be able to get the ball in a position for a clear shot. In the past, Le Sommer has underperformed, but USWNT should not depend on Le Sommer to embarrass herself.

    • Agree with your point on Free Kicks, but I will add, some of the GK in the Colombia game was not great.. Especially Abiliy’s free kick goal, that should have been saved and I would expect Solo to make a save. Not saying they aren’t dangerous, but the stats may be a little bit generous.

      • Gary Diver

        The accuracy of French free kicks is remarkable. I was at the SBC game at Nashville and saw a long free kick by Louisa Nécib (Cadamuro) hit the crossbar. I hope Solo (pun intended) has been practicing her jumping skills.

        • Steglitz49

          Louisa verily has Cadamuro on her jersey these days. Mr Carrasco, eat your heart out but don’t take your eyes off the cash register.

  • Gary Diver

    Mallory Pugh and Megan Rapinoe

    No information on the extent of Pugh’s injury? You would think that if it was minor the team would immediately release that information.

    Worst case scenario: neither Pugh nor Rapinoe can play against France. This could have a major consequence on the outcome of this game.

    I cannot over-emphasize the importance of this game: the loser may have to play Germany in QF. That is a fate to be avoided at all cost.

    • Ando91881

      Given the 3 day window between the first game and second game, I expect Christen Press to start in the France game and either Pugh or Dunn to come off the bench sometime in the second half. Maybe Pugh and Dunn will start again in the 3rd game, after they have had a little bit of a breather.

      • I really hope Press gets to start but I really don’t see it happening. The only change to the starting XI I expect is Dunn.

        • Ando91881

          I’m just thinking conditioning of the players. 6 games in this tournament over a period of 18-19 days means they are going to have to mix up the starters. Since Ms. Press only played 12 minutes in the first game, I expect her to play the first 62 minutes tomorrow. Then maybe the final 15 minutes in the third game.

          • I hope you’re right

          • rkmid71

            I agree with whitld. There’s a lot riding on the France game. Minutes go out the window for this game. It’s all-in to win. Maybe start Dunn and bring Pugh on towards the end once France is worn down if game is in the balance. Otherwise, let her ankle get some more rest/recovery. Based on how they’ve been handling her, I doubt Press will start. She may come on earlier if the US gets a reasonable lead and becomes more defensive. If the mission is accomplished, there will be a lot of resting and changes for a meaningless Colombia match.

          • Ando91881
          • Ando91881

            So France’s defense was not 100% healthy for this match. They were missing a couple of defensive starters? So what? The U.S. has players that miss games on a fairly frequent basis (Lloyd, Morgan, Rapinoe).

            She played well against France and should be rewarded with a start in a fairly big game.

          • Steglitz49

            Where is HOFCToDi when we need him? That video is like a red rag to a bull for him. Ferdinand has never sat on an angrier bee.

          • HOFCToDi

            Wendie Renard and Laura Georges were both missing for France. By the way, where was that against Sweden in the group stage of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup?

            resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/64/72/20/eng_19_0612_usa-swe_tacticalstartlist.pdf

            resources.fifa.com/mm/document/tournament/competition/02/64/73/21/eng_19_0612_usa-swe_fulltime.pdf

          • Steglitz49

            That was Klings finest hour. Saved the US’s bacon.

          • HOFCToDi

            That was CP12’s Waterloo.

          • Steglitz49

            Waterloo was the start of ABBA’s glorious career. Mamma mia! Do you believe in angels?

          • HOFCToDi

            USA wins first medal of the Olympics in shooting event

            sports.yahoo.com/news/usa-wins-first-medal-of-the-olympics-in-shooting-event-141957293.html

            Christen Press should take lessons from 19-year-old Virginia “Ginny” Thrasher on the art of marksmanship.

          • HOFCToDi

            2016 Olympic Games
            Rio de Janeiro, Brasil

            ussoccer.com/womens-national-team/tournaments/2016-olympic-games#tab-5

            Minutes Played
            Christen Press – 10

            The USWNT should have brought Ashley Sanchez instead.

          • Ando91881

            “If mission is accomplished.” Yeah, that’s an if.

          • Bruce

            I’m not holding my breath on Press getting significant minutes until the Colombia game. The first two substitutions vs. France will be used to keep the wings and centre-midfield fresh. To be safe the final sub won’t come in until the 80th minute again and that will likely be Press for Morgan or Lloyd.

        • Bruce

          Dunn instead of Pugh (injury or no injury).
          Horan instead of Brian (Moe proved she isn’t match fit)

          • Yea I’ve seen a few of your posts about not being impressed with Moe on Wednesday. I was was pretty neutral on it, didn’t think she was bad, but she didn’t stand out either. I would be fine with that change, but I know it won’t happen. Moe is an Ellis golden child since the WC and will start when healthy. Most of the time, I think it’s the right move.

          • Bruce

            If Ellis is dead set on putting her in, I’d hope she would play CDM and either Long or Horan further up.

          • Maybe that is the tactical switch we’ll see. Brian 6 and Long 8. Probably not though. Jill gets set in her ways.

          • mockmook

            “will start when healthy”

            But, she apparently isn’t 100% healthy.

          • Bruce

            Whoa. Didn’t see that coming.

          • guest

            yeah we know…..everyone is always 100% according to jill ellis.

    • Nicole C.

      This is the only thing I’ve seen on Pugh:
      https://twitter.com/SebiSalazarCSN/status/761632640533422080

      • Just saw that too. Great news. I still assume Dunn will start but in this case, I think I’d rather have Pugh’s speed off the bench when the French legs are gassed. I think she will be more effective in this game, if used in that way.

    • mockmook

      Not the end of the world, only one extra tough game.

  • Are the USA being as heavily favored outside of America to win gold as they are here in the US? Just read a great write-up about France on ESPNW and was wondering if other nations media are hyping up the USA as much as ours is. (Or maybe no other nations care enough)

    • Steglitz49

      Yes.

      Though they do not spend many column-inches on WoSo, if any. More like column-millimeters.

    • Ando91881

      This is not related to the Olympics, but The Guardian will sporadically write a few articles about the status of the NWSL. Of course I do not know if it ever makes it into the print edition of the paper, or even if they still have a print edition? I have no idea. I have never been to England. But it is listed from its website.

      https://www.theguardian.com/football/2016/apr/30/nwsl-womens-soccer-orlando-pride-jeff-plush

      • Thanks. I believe Caitlin Murray, who generally writes about the NWSL, is actually based out of Portland, so that may be a factor as to why we get those write-ups. Obviously The Guardian has to employ her, but I am sure it helps to have someone living in an NWSL city.

        • Steglitz49

          The NWSL city. The, not a.

          • 1 of 10, but I get what you mean.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. We aim to try. (“The one and only”, is already spoken for.)

        • Ando91881

          This article was “shared” only 37 times. When Andy Murray won Wimbledon, an article about it from The Guardian was shared about 16,000 times. That kind of answers the question about the interest level from their devoted readers.

      • Gary Diver

        During the past 15 months I’ve read numerous informative articles from The Guardian often written by the freelance soccer writer Caitlin Murray, who has recently been hired by Fox Sports.

        • I follow her on twitter and though I do appreciate that she has a passion for NWSL and Women’s International Soccer, she often seems kind of clueless when it comes to the USWNT. I am probably being harsh, but it annoys me when fans know more about team tactics/styles/on-goings than the media.

          • mockmook

            “We” get to obsess on the USWNT, she has to obsess on the whole world.

          • I suppose. But if she watches every game enough to write stories and recaps, why is she always surprised at certain things. Example, she was still saying Krieger was the starting RB up until the last friendly, with Jill still “testing KO”, when Kelley had clearly been the starter all year.. Stuff like that, I think it probably falls into “favorite player” areas, which is hard for anyone to ignore, media or not.

  • Guest
    • Gary Diver

      Thanks – excellent article.

      If France beats USWNT tomorrow, they may end up throwing them into the path of Germany. Sweet revenge indeed.

      • kernel_thai

        I dont think it’s awful either way to be honest. Yes u likely get US/Germany in the quarters which is unfair to both teams, but the winner then likely plays the winner of Canada/Sweden in the semi the way it current looks while on the other side ud have France/Brazil. If u consider France, Germany, Brazil and US the four favorites, then either path out of Group G means u only have to beat two of the top teams to win it all. At WC the France/Germany survivor somehow found the US waiting in the semi which was blatantly wrong.

    • Bruce

      Amazingly insightful.

    • MurderOnZidanesFloor

      Interesting but its unlikely that Delie and Le Sommer will both start this time. Based on recent games I guess France will use a 433, with Necib and Diani/Thomis either side of Le Sommer/Delie, allowing for a midfield three of Henry, Hamraoui and Abily.

      Really shocked by how central Thomis is on that graphic though, literally overlapping with Abily.

  • Gary Diver

    I am sorry for bringing this up again, but I didn’t follow the original discussion and I am very concerned about tomorrow’s game.

    Why is the world’s no. 1 team in the same group as the world’s no. 3 team? It makes no sense. The top three teams should be in different groups. It now appears that either USWNT or France will be thrown in the path of Germany. The situation of one of world’s top three teams logically unable to get past the QFs is insane.

    • Well there are only 12 teams playing in the tournament. Brazil gets to be #1 in a group as the host and then #1(US) and #2 (Ger) – so no matter what, it was going to be stacked groups. I am not sure how Brazil got such an easy group comparatively speaking, but I think they are all mostly fair to current form.

      • mockmook

        Well, it is an idiotic rule that the hosts are given top spot in a Group.

        • Totally agree

        • kernel_thai

          I agree. The purpose is to get the home team into the semis so that they will draw crowds for six matches. That can be accomplished in this format just as easily by placing them as 2E or 2F. This accomplishes two things. First it lets u draw the three top FIFA ranked teams into their own group meaning if seeding holds they wont meet until the semis. Second, the format calls for the second place teams in E and F to meet in a quarter final, offering the home team a more than fair chance to win their way into the semi.

          • another guest

            Just increase woso OG teams from 12 to 16 (like on men’s side) and the host nation and top 3 ranked teams all get seeded and only top 2 in each group move on to knockout stage so no-one gets an artificial easier/harder path and OG would be a more all around fairer completion for all teams.

        • guest

          if the olympics were held every four years only in greece that would put and end to that. might be better than having all these countries spend crazy money to build the necessary infrastructure they don’t already have to host the olympics. and also might reduce the corruption and PED use.

    • Paul Klee

      I think you’re looking at it backwards, there is no incentive in group F to finish first. First place I get to United States or France. Second-place probably gets you Sweden or China. That final Group match between Canada and Germany might be in the best interest of either team to lose.

      • Gary Diver

        After tomorrow things should be clearer going forward.

        • Paul Klee

          Yeah if Australia beats Germany all bets are off.

    • Steglitz49

      The logical arrangement would have been to put the 3 UEFA teams in one pod. Brazil, the US and either China or Australia could have been in one pod to share out between the groups. That way you would have been certain of avoiding two European teams in one group.

  • Really interesting and in-depth look at the US tactics that Jill wants the team to play with.

    http://www.fourfourtwo.com/us/features/jill-ellis-uswnt-tactics?page=0%2C2&utm_m_medium=t

    • “We even tracked throw-in possession,” she
      says. “Honest to God, when we had a throw-in, we would only gain
      possession about 25 percent of the time. That’s 35 to 40 throw-ins a
      game, so think about all those possession opportunities. We started
      tracking them to make [the players] more cognizant of it and more
      prideful in throw-ins.”

      Kling missed that memo last game.