Lauletta: Final thoughts on France, USWNT

Dan Lauletta March 7, 2017 500
Jill Ellis exits the field after England defeated the U.S. 1-0 at Red Bull Arena. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Jill Ellis remains committed to playing a 3-5-2 despite a poor showing at the SheBelieves Cup (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

The 2017 SheBelieves tournament is over, but the discussion of what transpired over the last seven days won’t soon fade away. Hot takes being what they are it will be easy to write off the short-term future of the United States and their experimental 3-5-2 alignment. It will also be easy to overcrowd France’s bandwagon over the next few months until the European Championships in the Netherlands.

But when the hot takes cool off there is no denying that this week could wind up being a sea change for the teams that finished first and last at the tournament. For France, their first major challenge under Olivier Echouafni was one in which their mental and tactical games caught up with their considerable athletic and technical abilities. And whether or not the U.S. ever live to look good playing with three in the back or whether Jill Ellis ever recovers from this tournament, Tuesday night in particular was a disaster of epic proportions.

Don’t forget about England who proved they could hang with three of the best teams in the world and managed to win against the U.S. in the U.S. for the first time. And Germany who opened the event with a pedestrian loss to the United States, outplayed France in a draw, and then snuck in the backdoor for second place by beating England.

Here are my thoughts on where France and the United States stand as they leave Washington D.C.

France, finally France

France have long been among the most talented sides on the globe but other than a pair of Cyprus Cup titles, it had never amounted to much. Some of the spectacular failures included losing 4-2 to the U.S. in the 2012 Olympic group stage after taking a similar 2-0 lead that they did on Tuesday; and failing to put away Germany in the 2015 World Cup quarterfinals and then losing on penalty kicks.

Seventy minutes into the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, it looked like the same old story. Echouafni’s side trailed England 1-0 and looked to be cheerfully loping along toward their first loss to the Lionesses since what amounts to prehistoric times for women’s soccer—1974. And then all of sudden Marie-Laure Delie equalized and Wendie Renard—playing as a sub—went high to head home a corner kick in stoppage time. That was literally the final touch of the match and France had started to alter the script. Three days later in New Jersey, Sarah Bouhaddi set the tone by stopping Mandy Islacker’s 1st half penalty and then made several important plays in the 2nd to salvage a 0-0 draw on a day when Germany was better. Two matches, both of which easily could have been losses, and four points.

France captain Wendie Renard sings along during the anthem before the match against Germany. (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

France captain Wendie Renard headed in the game winner against England and Les Bleues were off and running to a trophy (MEG LINEHAN/Equalizer Soccer)

Then came Tuesday. Echouafni unleashed a courageous game plan that involved pressing the U.S. all over the park and forcing their back three to answer questions about whether or not it could be the conduit to build an attack (more on that below.) The result was two goals inside 10 minutes. But unlike five years ago France stuck to the game plan and kept pressing and pushing. During the end of the first half and beginning of the second, when the U.S. played its best soccer of the night, the French never panicked, and instead of having their lead cut in half, wound up making it 3-0 shortly after the hour. They were off and running from there.

Not to be forgotten is Amandine Henry racing back to clear a ball off the line after it had beat goalkeeper Meline Gerard. Even though the narrative of the match will be that France trounced the U.S.—and indeed they did—sometimes it is plays like that, which happened at 2-0, which keep momentum moving in the right direction.

In order for this to have long-term meaning for France they’ll have to take their momentum to the Euros where they may now be tagged as favorites. After that it’s the buildup to what will be a pressure packed World Cup on French soil.

How to build a national team

There are many differences between building a club team and building a national team. One of the biggest ones is that as a club coach you can pick out a style and then acquire players that fit. As a national team coach there is some flexibility to player selection but in the grand scheme of things, you’re left to make the best of the top 30 or so players your country has developed for a given period of time.

With that in mind it is time to give serious pause as to why Jill Ellis continues her commitment to the 3-5-2. One of the tenets of the formation, in Ellis’s own words, is that it keeps the team on the front foot at all times. I may not be a coach, but I just watched the U.S. play 270 minutes over the last seven days and the amount of time they spent on the front foot could probably be condensed into a high school English class. The amount of time on the front foot that was a direct result of playing with an extra midfielder could be condensed into the time between high school classes.

More importantly, the players Ellis is using simply don’t fit the system. I think Allie Long is a fine soccer player who is working hard to be a good center back, but two things ran through my mind as I watched her get torched by France on Tuesday night. Long is not the team’s best option to center a three-back nor is center back Long’s best position. She spent limited time playing higher in each of the last two games and immediately looked more comfortable on the ball farther away from goal.

{RELATED: One last hurrah for Captain America  |  Rapinoe says she will abide by anthem policy}

In the center of the park, Carli Lloyd started all three games and was barely a factor in any of them. No one has the ability to emerge from obscurity to start winning games like Lloyd does. The U.S. basically won the World Cup on the shoulders of that transformation. But at 34, is Lloyd so good that she has to be force fed into sitting under the forwards even when the team is struggling to score goals? I thought halftime Tuesday was the perfect opportunity to try someone else there if for no other reason than to shake things up.

The U.S. won all of their fall matches because they were playing against teams that were always going to be hard pressed to keep up. But those six matches should have been enough for the new world order to look a whole lot better than it did at SheBelieves. The team scored one goal in three matches and it wasn’t exactly the result of a beautiful buildup but rather a glorious, individual effort and a shot off the crossbar that pulled the German keeper and defense out of position. They all count of course, but goals like that won’t come often against the top teams in the world. And then on Tuesday, after a few dodgy moments on the weekend against England, the defense was soundly beat on a number of occasions. Yes, it is fair to wonder at this point where exactly this team is going with its current formation and tactics. And it is fair to wonder if Ellis is trying to squeeze players into the formation of her choosing instead of bringing in the best players and letting their respective strengths and weaknesses determine how the team looks.

  • Bluenun

    I agree! Now can somebody relay this to Sunil and/or Ellis before she destroys everything!

    • CED

      Destroy what? I posted on this in detail earlier. The team has been playing poorly/mediocre for 2+ years. They were lackluster pre Wcup, lucked into a win with ref help and people forgot how poor the MF, which is the heart the problem was. They were poor/mediocre in run up to OG also. The same problem has been around for 2+ years, no DM and no #10. The center of the park is lost and all the various BS Ellis pulls from her backside isn’t going to solve that until the team locks in their to CM’s. They have the players that could possibly do it but she plays them out of position and others to cater to the albatross…Lloyd.

      • Steglitz49

        The USWNT underestimated Sweden in Brasilia. They thought it would be a turkey shoot and forgot that the Glorious 12th is the start of the grouse shooting season. In short, they came loaded for turkey and the swedes for grouse.

        Not point being grouchy about it. The USWNT thought the swedes were impotent and spayed. They weren’t.

        • CED

          Expected and yypical nonsense from the resident idiot.

          • Steglitz49

            Please give your reasons for why the USWNT bombed in Brasilia.

          • CED

            It’s been explained 100 times and done several times in this thread. Read the old posts.

      • Lorehead

        You do know they won all those games the refs supposedly helped them to luckily escape by multiple goals.

        • CED

          The resident idiot is back. Let’s make this simple for you since your stupid…The ref won the Wcup semi final for the US. Johnston should have 100% been sent off. Morgan penalty call was 2 yards outside of the box.

          • Lorehead

            There’s something wrong with how you take disagreement personally. We went over this at the time, but give Germany both those calls, don’t give Leonie Meier the red card she could easily have gotten too, and they still need two more goals.

          • CED

            LOL. Did you watch the game or are you stupid? We know it’s the latter, you’re stupid and you have proven it may times. Moron, If the correct calls, are made Germany doesn’t need 2 goals . US would have been a player down and US 1st goal came on a bogus penalty call. Not even disputable except from idiot homers like you that know nothing about the game. The game would have US 1 player down and 0-0 at worst. The 2nd US goal came in the last few minutes when Germany was pushing up everyone b/c losing 1-0 on a bogus call or 2-0 pushing up in the last minutes makes no difference.

          • Lorehead

            If your scenario for how Germany is the moral victor is that the ref should’ve handed out a red card, and then the ref shouldn’t have given a PK, and even after you reverse both those game-changing calls, Germany still would’ve needed two goals, the ref did not really decide that game.

          • BB Linley

            That’s stupid and you know it. They would just needed one since the first goal for the US would have not been given. With one women down and without the 1-0 in their hands it is unlikely that they would have scored the second. It’s rather likely that the Germans would have scored since they would have had one player more on the field.

            Their is of course no guarantee that the Germans would have won but the refs definitely had a huge impact on the outcome of that match.

            From what I read from you here before I concluded that you are not an ignorant US only guy. I might have been wrong.

            One thing I might add. The US were the better team in that match regardless of the refs decision. But the refs wrong decision were key for for the success.

            And if you look back you hardly can ignore that the USWNT benefited more often from refs decision. The question would be – why?

          • Lorehead

            The US not scoring one of their goals and Germany scoring a goal they didn’t is equivalent to Germany scoring two goals, yes. What you’re saying is that the game was not really close.

          • Lorehead

            Anyway, if you look at the USWNT from March to July, they went undefeated and beat France, Germany and Japan by multiple goals. Nobody even tries to argue that the wins against France and Japan weren’t convincing. It’s all about that one game against Germany. So, how many changes does this what-if story have to make to the timeline to get Germany a win against the US? At least four. That’s not a fluke outcome.

            Germany needed a lot more luck to get past France by shootout. And they only got to the shootout because the ball randomly bounced off a Frenchwoman’s elbow inside the penalty box. Japan’s win over England was even more of a fluke: Laura Bassett’s catastrophic own goal in the final seconds? Then Sweden got absolutely massacred, Brazil lost to its first credible opponent, Germany won none of its last three games, and France lost twice, including to Colombia by the biggest upset in WoSo history. How were any of those teams better than the US in June and July 2015?

            So why do people keep whiteknighting Germany with these fix fics where literally every important call goes the Germans’ way and even then, “Their [sic] is of course no guarantee that the Germans would have won?”

          • CED

            How stupid are you? Germany wouldn’t have needed 2 goals. You have to brain damaged to not get this. You idiot, the US scored on a bogus PK call. Germany would not have been pressing deserately in the last 3 minutes of the game b/c they wouldn’t have been a goal down form the bogus PK call. What part of that is beyond your limited IQ? Of course as a moron and US homer you can’t face the fact the ref decided the game.

          • Lorehead

            You do realize that people who are secure about their intelligence don’t act like you.

          • CED

            People like me don’t suffer fools like you. You are proven idiot and are treated as such.

          • Lorehead

            You’re barely even literate.

          • CED

            LOL…Go away idiot. You have being embarrassed as usual. You finally figured , :Germany still needed to goals was stupid, so you stopped repeating it. It only needed to be explained to you 3 times. You clearly have a sub 25 IQ. You’re fortunate breathing is an autonomic process. Now, go have mommy bring you some food to the basement and wipe the cheetos from your face.

          • Lorehead

            My point was correct. You did not understand it.

          • CED

            You’re the dumbest person on this board by a country mile. The fact you think you’re right is Trump level stupidity. You’re too dumb to live!

  • Alanna Fairbairn

    Say it again for the people in back: Allie Long never was, never should have been, and never should be again a centerback at any level of professional soccer. She is an attacking player. They can sometimes be transitioned. Sometimes not. This is clearly the latter.

    • Soccertaxi

      Arrgh! It was so painful watching her. Not her fault, though.

    • nwslfan

      in all fairness, and I am no Long stan by any means, she might have a prayer of learning in a CB pairing, But is absurd for Ellis to ask her to play central for 3 CB formation.

      • Silver Frost

        Long got torched by Le Sommer, but people seem to be forgetting that Broon fell on her @ss at the same time. But I agree that Long just hasn’t got the wheels to play back there. Menges would never have allowed that play.

        • nwslfan

          it was pouring rain and slick conditions. Broon trying to recover for positioning that never should be happened. That wasn’t a wheels issue. Long got torched by the slip pass to ELS, that was the primary issue. Long had help from Broon but she hesitated. This in turn juked Broon and Broon fell. Center CB needs to talk and set defensive direction for the other CBs,

  • newsouth

    LOL, Sermanni > Ellis post Wambach aka Brute. Who in the world would do a 3 back and not use Dunn as a back since she gives you Rampone type recovery speed? They can always offer speed force a NT contract better than her modeling gig. You need sprinters on the back if you are going to play MagicJack Ball. Then again, Ellis is more like Lima and you see how his 3 back and sweeper worked for Brazil, LOL

    http://dailybruin.com/images/2015/05/web.sp_.5.15.trackpre.AYEO_-640×426.jpg

    • Steglitz49

      I presume we are meant to admire the lass leading the pack, the one with #1 on her jersey.

    • Lorehead

      What is with your obsession over fitting players into your delusional villians-and-victims narrative? You’re in denial about Ally Courtnall, and your hatred of Abby Wambach was unhinged even before she retired years ago.

  • wosofan

    Dan Lauletta — if you do nothing else in the world of women’s soccer — and you have done plenty — this piece must be preserved and celebrated. A sober, straight-up assessment of our national team, and, to be more precise, a judgment of the misguided leader of our national team. Thank you. Thank you.

  • ARED

    Some seem to really enjoy calling France failures, while being a bit harsh (and incorrect) about their critique. It is ok, I guess it can make a story sound better -even if it stretches the story for a narrative which is not so accurate.

    France has never been physically or athletically superior to Germany or USA or Brazil. A few individuals maybe, and this was important to help them to compete. But do you believe Nécib, Le Sommer, and Henry are physically equal to Morgan, Lloyd, and Holiday? I think it is just not true. France competed from being technical yes, but also quite good tactically actually in the midfield. And most of all from their talent. Many disappointing results yes, but it just seems strong to me to continue to push these concepts which aren’t really true -even now when they have such a victory.

    I have my own criticisms of the team over these years, but to always say they are “failures” and say it is because they are weak mentally or tactically as opposed to simply losers in a good match, well, I am just not sure this makes sense -especially in comparison to the standards allowed for other teams. Would you ever call Japan or Sweden mentally weak for losing to Germany or USA? I would not….and the USWNT have been tactically weak quite often, and I would suggest mentally struggling as well for at least these past 4 years. But we only hear how strong they are -until now finally some are questioning Lloyd (in the most passive way possible).

    (I am talking about mostly the USA media, but maybe some commenters here also… ; ) …..I think it is normal for the French to say they have failed, but for another nation to always do it just seems a bit silly for me -especially when they never would say it about themselves, or really any other team it seems.).

    • DNG

      The last 2-3 year’s I’ve thought that France was the most talented team in the world. Maybe so far ahead of USA or Germany but the most talented overall with a good mix of technicians and athletes. Because of that I have higher expectation of them then finishing no higher than 4 in at least the last tournament since the WC draw was garbage. Perpetual failures though is just completely false.

      • ARED

        Yes I felt they were actually quite impressive at the WC, and FIFA was quite unkind to them. The performed well, played well, and competed well. And they still lost. It can happen.

        I agree, there is much talent and growing expectation without a doubt. It just seems that the story has grown beyond the reality to me.

    • Ethan

      Well, I think Henry would definitely fit into the USWNT from a physicality standpoint. (And also make the midfield a lot better.) Good points though.

      • ARED

        I think she can hold her own, and easily would in the USA team. But if you compare her to the ones she rivals against physically in a match, Lloyd, Long, Horan, and all of the fast players, it can be difficult for her physically (although I think she is a much better player than most USA midfielders, at least their current form).

        In NWSL for example, she is still a top player, but you don’t really want to see her have to run and chase all over the field defensively, which is my point. You’d rather see her play “her game” which is controlling and distributing the ball while in possession.

        • DNG

          Henry is actually pretty physical when she’s defending. I think she could hold her own against Long, Lloyd and maybe Horan. It’s the speed of opposing forwards that I would be more worried about her having to cover. She’s almost definitely a better passer than any of the US CMs though and controls tempo a lot better than any player bar Allie Long. I would love to see an American version of Henry in the squad but an American Fishlock might be a better fit with the current squad.

          • ARED

            Yes, I didn’t mean that Henry cannot do it, just that it does not suit her -at least her preferred style -compared to say Lloyd, who doesn’t really mind losing the ball with bad touches because she can simply win it back in prolonged midfield battles and duels. Henry prefers to control the ball with her team and not allow the opponent touches. She is smart enough to rarely be caught out, but speed in open spaces is the area I most had in mind -it’s not ideal for her to find herself in space defending against players like Heath, Pugh, or forwards as you mention. This is when we see her take some fouls and cards -which is normal as well, for that position.

            In 2015 I said it’d be fun to watch Henry play that role for the US -it might be the best woman’s side we’ve ever seen…lol. I think Long has filled that role differently, but capably, and so far is the only midfielder under Ellis who has succeeded in that role. So of course Ellis’ response is to quickly move her to CB. ; )

          • DNG

            Long has been acceptable as a deep-lying distributer in the pivot. There really are just not enough outlets in a 3 back formations for Lloyd not to participate in ball circulation. Heath, Dunn and Pugh need to stay wide since their first priority is to establish the width.

            I don’t think it would be the best women’s side we’ve ever seen. I’m not sure I’d rate them above France even if they had a player like Henry. At least not as long as Lloyd is still in the starting XI. I think she’d be an upgrade on AL but like I think you implied, the US might struggle to get the best out of her if she’s not surrounded by players that know how to effectively circulate possession to create passing channels.

            We can argue over whether or not the US has those players but I think the players they have, should they chose to use them, would be very good and not great. Other than players like Horan, Heath, Brian, and maybe a few other, I don’t think the US players understand how to move without the ball all that well.

          • ARED

            Yeah, I agree. I think we generally agree on a lot, especially about the clear problems with the US team as it is now. My comment about Henry meant **if the team was set up right** they might be the best -and obviously it’s only a fantasy idea. But at that time they at least had a decent formation and the backline was settled, and world class options in midfield and forward even if they chose not to use most of them well. But the one position I saw the greatest potential for improvement was a holding midfielder who could actually do all the things Ellis and the team talk about doing (but do not or cannot). A player who anchors the midfield and directs the attack, while freeing a player like Holiday from being so poorly used (again, the comment was made in 2015, when Lloyd and Holiday were stuck playing holding mid together).

            At the time I guessed Long was probably the best option for the role, and I still don’t see anyone as better -although certainly others should be considered. If the manager was a good one, I’d trust them to use Long until another rose above her, but with Ellis it’s hardly surprising to see her change the entire team and formation to find her most creative way yet to misuse a talented player.

            I’m not crowning Arena from one match, but I think those who discount the impact of simply knowing and being comfortable in you roles on the pitch can learn from the drastic change in atmosphere with the USA men. It does also help to pick the right players in the first place as well. Klinsmann and Ellis have both seemed to make the simple parts of the game quite complicated.

          • DNG

            To me at least, the Long at CB is all about trying to preserve Long’s DLP ability wit 2 additional CM to accommodate Lloyd. My conclusion is that Lloyd really needs to go. The midfield is not balanced and has not been balanced in a long time. I see the WC win as more luck and stable defending more than anything else. Not that they can’t still win that way but that Ellis didn’t really understand why they were successful. Brian has been horribly misused as well

            I agree on Long and Arena as well. All Arena really did was improve player moral and smash a poor team. A lot of people could have come in and done that.

          • ARED

            Yea, all about Lloyd -focusing on Long is actually a distraction from the actual problem, just as focusing on strikers is flawed b/c as long as Lloyd is there in the middle of course your midfield and your attack will suffer. Lloyd does not contribute in those areas, and actually hurts the others. The WC was very lucky for Ellis, but for the players I think it was actually a pretty impressive performance to hold it together just enough to win despite carrying the weight of Ellis. Lloyd at that time was slightly more mobile as a free forward, and Holiday/Rapinoe/Heath/Brian and sometimes O’Hara were talented enough to run the midfield and create chances -and of course the defense and Solo were the strength of the team throughout. Ellis was forced into every good move she made for 10 months including at the WC.

            I didn’t mean to diminish what Arena did. The biggest change was the spirit and confidence of the group, but to be fair his tactics and selection were strong as well. Others could have done it, but perhaps not so well. Either way, the point is that he is not being extreme or fancy or “progressive”, he is just being smart and pragmatic. I’m not sure Ellis or Klinsmann have the ability to be pragmatic, or the knowledge of their groups to do it even if they wanted.

          • DNG

            Rapinoe is the big loss in my opinion because even if Holiday is a little better than Long she’s done a better job replacing what Holiday did than Pugh or Dunn has replacing Rapinoe. In a team heavily reliant on moving the ball up the wings Rapinoe’s injury was a big loss and now her age is coming into the equaion. Pugh and Dunn are great going forward with their pace but getting the ball there has been a lot more difficult without Rapinoe. O’hara was really only used as a late game defensive wing sub during the olympics which is a pretty good role for her if Ellis doesn’t want to use her as an overlapping outside back or a wingback. I agree that the team did well in difficult circumstances and also think that Solo is going to be a big miss long term even if she had already started to decline when she was essentially kicked off the team.

            On Arena. He did what I would expect most good coaches to do in that situation. Klinnsman never really did figure out how to manage players and it effected team moral a lot. I think managing players is something that Ellis does pretty well but her nonsensical tactics will probably cause the team to lose faith at one point or another. I don’t think Arena’s tactics will work against better teams but he probably knows that as well. Not sure about Bradley in the side either at this point but I don’t follow the men and MLS close enough to name any immediate replacements.

          • ARED

            I agree on Rapinoe, especially in the context of a clunky midfield, it helped to have her there to make a play to break the game open -and for set pieces, which they relied upon. I think they have more than enough talent to be fine without Rapinoe, but not with the current Lloyd/formation/Ellis problems.

            Bradley is an example of why I think Arena’s tactics were better than Klinsmann -he played very well in a role he usually plays well in. JK always had little changes, if not big ones, for everyone but Dempsey -a bit like Lloyd ha -and intentionally tried to make his players uncomfortable. But sometimes it’s nice if the team looks comfortable together….lol.

            Not sure I agree Ellis is good at managing players, although I think you mean she is personally nice and has relationships which is something at least. But I don’t think you can manage this way and expect moral to be high, despite the admirable best efforts of the players. That is another reason why the WC win was impressive by the players, b/c for me many of the players including several who rose to be important in the later stages of the WC had been misused, and even largely unused before. Some to suit Ellis’ bad system (a different one then, but still poor! lol), as well as the veterans, 3-4 of whom should not even have been on the roster let alone influencing the team “moral”. I get depressed imagining playing for her, so I guess my feeling is it must be tough to handle. I get depressed just listening to her interview contradict herself…lol. So yes, a nice person, but I think it still can be said she is not managing the players or moral so well.

          • DNG

            Bradley was pretty good in the deeper midfield role but it’s hard for me to see him succeeding in that lone pivot role against a good team, especially one that has the players to make the US chase shadows. I just don’t think he’s that type of ball winner and the other mids that Arena played aren’t really either. He wasn’t perfect in possession either. I think a better pressing team would cause him and consequently the US some real issues.

            I just meant that Ellis has good relationships with her players and I agree that it can only take a team an a coach so far. If poor results start to pile up there will eventually be a breaking point. I do think we are seeing some player react badly to her management though. Morgan Brian is the first name that comes to my mind and I have to imagine the outside mids will be among those frustrated too if they continue to be used as wingbacks. The forwards have looked like a mess for a while in my opinion. Not one of them seems to be playing great at the moment.

          • ARED

            I think the MNT will have issues, and I don’t actually think Honduras was terrible altogether as they pressed hard and pressured the US until the US started to play direct (although the defensive line and GK were mostly terrible). Bradley and the defenders all had some wobbles, but I think that another part is to accept who you are and that this will happen even if you are Spain or Germany. I won’t say too much about the midfield options but I think a team with Bradley can be very good when he’s not pushed to be a CAM or isolated in possession -and obviously the tactics may pull another one (or two) back when needed. Many players missing also, so we’ll see how it progresses.

            Yes, I think Brian, Heath, (Holiday), Long, O’Hara, and Press have all been essentially cast aside or at least to the back of the group at times, some several times now. I think sometimes the forwards should be better, but can you imagine being a forward trying to make runs with Lloyd there? An endless nightmare, as we see each match. So I see reason for frustration beyond what I would call normal, and since I believe for maybe a decade the team has been plagued by managers picking veterans and “inside players” at the expense of better ones. It’s a culture of frustration for me, occasionally lifted when they play well in spite of this.

          • DNG

            With regards to the USWNT players you named. I don’t think they’ve been cast aside, I think their versatility is being taken for granted. The philosophy is how can we use some of our best play to make the squad more balanced instead of how can we put some of our best players in a position to succeed at least with coach Ellis.

          • ARED

            Yes, I said essentially b/c they obviously are still involved, But I think it’s a pretty glaring error how they have been used.

          • DNG

            Heath at wing back and a couple of times at OB is painful to watch. Brian seem to have leveled off from where she was she she left UVA, maybe even dropped some. It’s tough to watch some of our best players being so obviously misused.

  • ARED

    Why is it so difficult to criticise Lloyd? I believe this is the most direct and clear critique of her I have ever heard or read in media, and it is two sentences questioning her but only with two defending her in between….lol.

    (Also, the USA won the WC on the “transformation” of removing Wambach and organizing a midfield that could win. Lloyd was the benefactor of this, and took her chances well. But it was on the shoulders of the midfielders I believe.).

    • Kevin

      Yeah, but Lloyd wasn’t scoring in the run-of-play in the WC. They were all off set pieces excluding the midfield shot (2 PK’s, 2 Free Kicks into the box, 1 corner, 1 midfield shot).

      • ARED

        Yep, I think we have discussed this. She is a brilliant PK taker still, I concede that much. In 2015 she was good at attacking set pieces, but it seems not anymore. From open play, it’s a lot of bad, mixed with an occasional impressive strike (after about 20 poor ones).

  • Reality

    This SBC tournament was the perfect venue to experiment with how the NT does “without” Lloyd. I would suggest that not only would it have given an opportunity to utilize different players in different configurations, but it also would have tested if the team is more or less effective on offense and defense without her on the pitch.

    As has been said by others, Ellis is like a general who utilizes tactics from past wars to fight today’s battles. She was so traumatized by the OG loss to Sweden’s blockade that she seems to think that this 3-5-2 will be a miracle cure for all teams and circumstances.

    • ARED

      Ellis keeps digging trenches until her players are exhausted, and the opponents look at themselves a bit bashfully, laugh, and send drones in to bomb the trenches.

  • GT

    Three “take-aways” from this game. One, as everyone is saying, the three back system doesn’t work especially with Allie Long as the center back. She is just not fast enough. She’s much better as a midfielder, duh. Two, we have got to get Aly Wagner out of the broadcast both. I had to turn the sound off after 15 minutes. I think listening to her qualifies as cruel and unusual punishment.Three, if Jill Ellis doesn’t get her act together, she is going to be watching the next World Cup on TV. Maybe she’ll be in the broadcast both and we can kill two birds with one stone.

    • ARED

      I agree, except I think Ellis would be way worse than Wagner on TV (and honestly as a coach…lol).

      It seemed Wagner was trying to stick to the narrative the team wants, but often was undercutting it a little bit, perhaps b/c she doesn’t believe in how they are being managed -she even criticized Lloyd a few times, even though it was a bit disguised. It’s hard to know whether she really is wondering about the ability of Lloyd both as a creative force and a leader for the team, or if she knows the answer but is just trying to bring her doubts to light in a kind way. (Because she will probably be fired if she says it more clearly).

      • Terry Lash

        Ellis is at the heart of the USWNT’s continuing poor performance. The loss to Sweden in the Olympic Games was the wake up call. That game demonstrated that Ellis did not know what to do with the team after WWC 15. Since the Olympics Ellis has changed formation, brought in new players, reassigned positions for established players (or marginalized them), held training sessions, participated in international friendlies. The end result is worse than the game against Sweden. Yet Ellis seems determined to stick with what is not working against quality opponents. Time for her to go and to bring in a coaching team that is as effective as the new coaches with England and France. Wake up US Soccer.

        • GT

          I think the “glow” of the World Cup victory has finally “dimmed”.

        • ARED

          I agree. Sweden was bad b/c they could not create enough good chances to score -largely b/c Lloyd is cemented in the center of the attack. But, at least the USA was stable behind and actually pretty strong even in the midfield with Long/Brian/Heath/Pugh/etc.

          But b/c they gave up one chance that made one goal, Ellis starting changing things even during that game, and hasn’t stopped still. Someone should just say “Hey, it wasn’t so bad -at least then we could defend and knew how to play to Long, and she could play to the wide or forward players”. It wasn’t terrible in 2016. Now, they are very unsettled from front to back, and I do not think the players are finding any joy at all.

          • DNG

            The 3-5-2 is a horrible formation for Pugh and Heath. Only Ellis would find a way to make some of her best players less effective in the effort to keep Lloyd relevant.

          • ARED

            *ding*

            Exactly. The most difficult thing to accept about the USA is how the best players so often suffer for the “star” players. It is embarrassing at times, I believe. Being flexible should be a good thing, but for Heath, Pugh, O’Hara, Press, Long, Brian, etc, it has meant they are easily shoved aside for Lloyd or Wambach. Even Holiday was for most of her career.

          • Cc W

            Interestingly, it sounds like the new FRA coach has adjusted to what his players do best and they are 8-0 with some draws since he took over.

          • ARED

            Yes, he is still very early on and sometimes the performances have varied, but they are mostly good and the results are impressive. This tournament victory is a nice step before the Euro. We will see how it goes at the Euro, it should be fun if nothing else (both for France, and in general).

          • Steglitz49

            Remember Colombia?

        • Kevin

          Just like in the Sweden game at the Olympics, this tournament showed that Ellis’ incompetence.

          Ellis deserved the bulk of blame for the loss to Sweden. A couple things were just mind-boggling. What the hell was she thinking subbing in Rapinoe for 30 minutes? What the hell was she thinking having Press take the final shot?

          I think she outdid herself with her own incompetence in this tournament.

          She needs to go, but I just don’t see any way they fire her before 2019 WC unless we have more terrible results like this. Unfortunately, we won’t have any more tests like this until next year’s 2018 SBC as we load up on mostly tomato cans… games which we could win playing an 8-1-1 with Pugh playing GK and Naeher/Harris playing forward and midfield.

          We have just over 2 years until the 2019 WC. Unfortunately, we’re running out of time to fire Ellis before it’s too late and we’ll be stuck with her.

          • ARED

            Haha. I’d like to formally add Harris to the list of players I think my be better in the CAM role than Lloyd. ; )

            I will add that she removed Long (for Rapinoe’s 30 minutes), which was abandoning a key part of the team that year, and also decided Heath should play RB.

          • captainfate

            She took O’Hara out to put Rapinoe in to the match vs Sweden. A player who would have played for as long as the match went on for (barring injury), and with minimal disruption to pace.

          • ARED

            Thank you, you are correct. I mixed the two early changes -it was Dunn on for Long just before Rapinoe on for O’Hara. I thought both were questionable decisions, without Long they lost a key player in the build up they had relied on and never seemed sure of how to play after this. And O’Hara is both valuable and tireless, as you say, and exactly the kind of player I would like during extra time.

          • Terry Lash

            Unfortunately there appears to be no way people who hold your position can as a practical matter influence Gulati to do the right thing–find a better coach.

            Personally I would like to see Gulati go, too. There is a need for new leadership for US Soccer. Many on this site complain about the entitlement mentality of senior players. I think this problem is even more serious with respect to Gulati.

          • tonysocref

            USSF Board of Director”s “To-Do-List” (We wish)

            Fire Sunil Gulati
            Fire April Hendricks
            Fire Jill Ellis
            Fire Michelle French
            Fire J.B. Snow

            Give the USWNTPA 60 day notice. It’s time to get rid of the CBA as currently written. If the women want the same camp/match payouts as the men then it’s time to get rid of the guaranteed contracts.

            If we are going to continue to support the NWSL, why are we only supporting 12% of the players in the league. Time to take that 1.2 – 1.5 million we have spent each year and give it directly to the NWSL. For me it’s time that the players negotiate directly with the NWSL and fall under the league pay cap just like the other 88% of the players. There is no way your going to convince me that the 12% are the best 12% of the league.

            Last but not least, It’s time for the Board to look in the mirror and ask themselves, “Over the past 10 years have we done what is best for the US Soccer program?” If they can’t answer this question with a yes, then it is time for them to resign and get new blood into USSF.

          • Steglitz49

            I hold the USWNT players to blame, not JE.

          • Kevin

            You don’t think WASTING two subs on Rapinoe (in a game that went 120 minutes) and dropping Heath to RB was a monumental coaching mistake?

          • Steglitz49

            Her error of judgement was to take Pinoe but she may have been under orders from on high.

            They got away with it on plastic in Canada but on grass in Brazil it was a different story. No doubt 16+2 was a different kettle of fish from 20+3.

          • Kevin

            If she was on orders from on high to take Rapinoe, the massive error of judgement was to actually play her.

            She could have played her in the group stage, but didn’t. She could have started her and then only had to waste 1 sub on her, but didn’t.

          • AlexH

            She didn’t waste her subs Kevin, it was part of the PROCESS!

      • Kevin

        I agree, I didn’t have any problem with Wagner other than it was a little repetitive. It definitely seemed like she was holding back and “sticking to the narrative” as you said. I didn’t take it as her offering it as her opinion because she kept clearly adding “Ellis says they need to trust the system”. I almost thought she was trying to hammer home that this is all on Ellis.

        Wagner had plenty of disguised negative remarks about some of the veterans, including a few subtle shots at Lloyd and one at Morgan in the England game as well.

        • ARED

          Yeah I agree. I don’t always see/hear the USA or hear Wagner talking, but as a player she was a great midfielder and whether she is the perfect announcer or not, she has some idea on both the issue that hurts the USA the most right now (bad midfield/Lloyd), as well as the inside picture of USWNT….

          • Kevin

            I like Wagner. I don’t think there’s any way Foudy or Markgraf make some of those comments, particularly about Lloyd.

          • I love Wagner’s commentary. She questions Ellis’ formation, she questions her use of personnel, she offers up what adjustments she thinks could be made to actually make this formation work or to make the US successful under a different formation. She doesn’t heap praise on the veterans. She doesn’t kiss any ass, but she isn’t mean, either.

      • DNG

        Yup. Couldn’t be any clearer to me that Wagner is trying to walk the tight rope. She understands the game and did let the team have it at half time. Just stopped short of mentioning anyone in particular for understandable reasons in my opinion.

        • Bruce

          You could tell that she was making career decisions every time she opened her mouth. Cringe-worthy.

    • SpiritFan80

      I actually liked Wagner this game. She was a lot more critical of Ellis and the team than she usually is. As the game wore on she gave them less and less excuses. She didn’t go in too hard but I suspect she may be trying to keep her good report with USSF, which is understandable to some extent. You could tell she had a lot more she wanted to say.

  • Nat

    I think Ellis is destroying this team little by little, the 3 man back line Does NOT work. Especially playing Long as a CB. I agree with this article 100%. The 3-5-2 formation was supposed to give us more attacking players and throughout this tournament that’s the least we saw. Ellis needs to get fired, she has no idea what she’s doing, playing players out of position just to satisfy her crazy ideas is killing all the hope of growing this team for WC 2019 and 2020.

    • CED

      The team has been playing poor for years. Leading up to the Wcup they were lackluster against any half decent team. The MF was a disaster then, Lloyd was a tun over machine and Holiday was running around trying to do all the work b/c Lloyd is Lloyd. The dual 6 was garbage. The played poor during group stages and then Ellis lucked into a solution to the problem she created and ignored by suspensions forcing her to play people who she neglected such as Brian. They played decent against germany in the semi and got a lot of help from the refs. JJ should have been sent off and the PK Alex drew, was not even close to being in the box. Japan just failed to show up for the final. Then the US went on VT which consisted mostly of tomato cans. Lead up to the OG was again mediocre and they struggled against good teams. Japan the tied again with ref help after being down 3-1. They were clueless playing S. Africa pre OG, having no idea how to break down an organized defense. They again played mediocre in OG. The post Og games were tomato can games. The fact is the the problems with the team have been 2+ years and have papered over b/c they lucked into a Wcup. Ellis should be sending the reds Xmas presents forever.

      • Nat

        I agree with you in the sense that the team has been playing poorly since before the WC, with that said, after the Olympic disaster Ellis should have been fired, However, the Hope Solo Fiasco got everyone’s attention turned away from her poor coaching leading the team to one of the biggest failures. With No doubt we need better coaching in all programs including youth teams for men and women. Soccer is much more than having a group of great players, what wins you games is good tactics and knowing how to position your players to get the best game out of them and Ellis lacks all of those characteristics that make a good coach. #FIREELLIS

  • Bluenun

    1) Krieger, Johnston and O’Hara on the bench (best defense out there). Long at CB!
    2) If Ellis saw France was coming straight at them, then for god sake make adjustments!
    30 Why play people out of position, no need to, have depth at all positions! Lloyd looked lost and Long is slow and just not a CB.
    How many times is Ellis going to show she doesn’t know how to coach! She has NEVER had a winning program since the start of her coaching career!
    FIRE ELLIS the ladies work their asses off and deserve better!

    • marie.bough

      Even the Fench TV anchor was shocked that ELLIS didn’t make any adjustment in the back line.

      • Kevin

        Ellis was a deer caught in the headlights last night.

        • kernel_thai

          U mean every night. Never has a blank expression defined a person as it does with Ellis.

        • Because..

          I did not see the game, but was Ellis out coached again?

          • Terry Lash

            Yes.

    • SpiritFan80

      I agree with everything you have said. This has practically been my mantra for months now! I’m fine with experimenting, but geez when something isn’t working let it go and try something else.

  • Hat Trick

    The formation was undoubtedly the main problem but, as others have said, player selection was questionable. I’m still surprised nobody has mentioned how poor Lynn Williams was in each game, missing many goal-scoring opportunities and failing to stand out in any way. Kealia Ohai looked sharper but was cut. Julie Johnston is probably our best back and definitely superior as a tackler and distributor to Sauerbrunn and Long. Last but not least, we seriously missed Megan Rapinoe. Apparently, she’s still recovering from a knee surgery but when healthy she’s ranked as a top 11 player in the world. We sorely needed her offense.

    • captainfate

      I think Rapinoe is past her prime. She’s still good, don’t get me wrong, but considering her age and who we’ve got on the roster, I wouldn’t sorely miss her if she was cut/left off the roster. We have a lot of players capable of playing at the wing. You already have the option of playing Heath/Dunn/O’Hara/Pugh. We all wish we still had 2012 Olympics Megan Rapinoe but that time has passed.

  • dw

    Ellis is still trying to figure out which foot is the front one.

  • Dillon77

    Between Ellis’ coaching and Wagner’s commentary, my head was spinning last night (finally just put Aly on mute).

    First, kudos to Dan for hitting just about every nail on the head in this article. It’s a sober, spot-on assessment.

    Apparently, Coach Ellis wants to use the 3-5-2 to keep the foot forward, both in terms of offense and keeping pressure on the opposition’s defense (to force turnovers and shorten the field).

    Regarding the latter, where was the ball pressure that Ms. Wagner kept bringing up? It was intermittent at best and certainly not well-coordinated. The 3-back, pressure-focused “press” works when everyone is all in to the concept, either by positioning and/or effort, and that has not been the case. Best I’ve ever seen it work is when Dorrance unleashes UNC and he has the benefit of mass substitutions to keep everyone fresh.

    You can work a four-back system in pressing…Theresa Romagnolo utilizes it at Notre Dame to great effect.

    As for greater offense gained by the middies, certainly didn’t see it. In fact, taking away the four backs eliminated one of our regular ways of advancing the ball — up the wings. And when France pressed our three backs, the starting part of the attack was more often a hurried pass to relieve pressure.

    It seems like Ellis is forgetting that NBA rule — build your approach around your players’ strengths and shield your weaknesses, as best you can. Well, the 3-back really doubles down on that and Ellis is doing no player and her team no favors by putting Long into the middle of the defense.

    In between defending the system, Wagner was making cracks at vocal leadership, which was not a subtle dig at Lloyd or Sauerbrunn…it was as subtle as Sean Spicer talking about Obamacare.

    Lastly, I’m all for experimenting, but not at the expense of turning what was once of your strengths into a weakness….and not getting any benefits out of it.

    p.s. BTW, that pitch was a disaster, particularly in the corners by the high walls. Geesh.

    • Liisa Harkins

      Amen to the Wagner comment.

    • ARED

      Funny what happens when you play a tournament in the northeast USA in winter, isn’t it? ; ) I’ve heard it was a mild winter also, so perhaps they are lucky?

      About the “pressing”. If the USA wants to press the opponent’s backline, they are easily the best in the world -if an when Wambach and Lloyd are not playing. They have overwhelmed teams when they do this, since they are all quite fast and instinctive to hunt together. The problem is, as soon as one player (Lloyd) is not together with you in unison, the who effort is broken. If it were any combination of Pugh, Press, Morgan, Williams, Dunn, etc, imagine how different this would be.

      Before the 2015 WC this was clear, in the few moments Wambach was off the field. I could not believe it was not questioned. Whether it was Morgan/Leroux/Press/ARod, the opponent could not cope -and the USA looked much more dangerous.

      • Dillon77

        Good points. You and I are in agreement: everyone has to be “all in” or it does not work. It sure didn’t look that way last night. Plus, you don’t need to go to a three-back set to make it work.

  • tonysocref

    To bad we can’t up vote the the whole article. I’d give it at least 100 up votes.

    Thanks Dan for telling it like it is.

    • *slow clap* to Dan Lauletta for this one. Excellent assessment of both France and USWNT.

  • Ashley C

    “The team scored one goal in three matches and it wasn’t exactly the result of a beautiful buildup but rather a glorious, individual effort and a shot off the crossbar that pulled the German keeper and defense out of position.”

    This has been a concern since the WC and been a longtime coming imo since other countries are putting in the work/working on team play and technical skill. It’s perfectly fine to rely on individual moments and skill. Sometimes those moments get you a win, I get that. But the team plays and attacks with no purpose. They look lost and without a plan (which goes back to Ellis). They’re unimaginative. There’s no buildup play or patience – instead it’s still “let’s hope one player can do it all in the attack and make it happen.” France has always had the players and been technically gifted but to me their issues were always in consistency and mental lapses (sounds like I’m describing Arsenal). But throughout this tournament they learned to play as a team, be patient, buildup, not rush the attack just because it’s there. Ellis says she wants all that but I see no progress in that department.

    • Bruce

      “But the team plays and attacks with no purpose.”

      – amen

    • ARED

      For a long time the USA formed a solid base, and then hoped/trusted that individuals would “step up” and find the plays to win matches from there. It is not a terrible way to play, especially in the older days of WoSo, but some teamwork and considering the team above yourself is still necessary.

      I think now too many are trying to be the one who steps up, but really they all just need to calm down and accept their roles as just one of 11 (or 23). Eventually even those players who usually are calm, patient, and look to pass and support the team first begin to push and force things themselves.

      If Ellis really wants that, there is one big and obvious change to make -and it was not changing to a 3-5-2….

  • Jessica Mirman

    My main takes on this tourney and the last game.
    1. France won with style – huge congratulations to them!

    2. USWNT has a leadership vacuum among the players and the coaching staff. I found the lack of ownership and trivialization of the SBC repulsive and unsportsmanlike. Example: the post game interview with Lloyd was totally unacceptable. She blamed the younger players, trivialized the tournament (“it’s all about 2019” – fine, than why I should I bother watching NWSL or SBC?), and talked about “the process” like no one was going to notice that they just got totally destroyed in the final and came in dead last in the tournament. In short, she took no ownership of the loss. Not okay.

    3. They need to take their medicine and not blather on about “process” and it being a learning experience. You either are professional athletes who take heat when you screw up, or your are not. You can’t have it both ways.

    • Ashley C

      The best part about that Lloyd post-game interview blaming the new players is that Lavelle looked the best player for the US vs England.

      • ARED

        Yes, the USWNT often (always?) puts the young players into a small box and acts happy for them -but in a way that diminishes them actually. “Oh, Lavelle was great wasn’t she….for a rookie. She was nervous for awhile, but then she did ok…she’ll be good someday”.

        If Lavelle was nervous what is Lloyd’s issue? Nerves in her 1,000th cap? Lavelle and 20 other players are good right now. The team is built for one player, and that one player will criticize those supporting her even as she wears the armband? I don’t know….

        • Marnipreed

          Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !dk292c:
          On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
          !dk292c:
          ➽➽
          ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs582ShopStreetGetPaid$97/Hour ★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫::::::!dk292c:….,…….

      • Lavelle also looked good vs France, but was subbed off before players who played worse. I was shocked when Long wasn’t the first player off the pitch. Lloyd should have been the second.

        • SpiritFan80

          Lavelle was easily the most exciting US player of the whole tournament.

        • Terry Lash

          Ellis has no idea how to manage a game. All of her substitution and adjustment decisions are suspect. She is in over her head. Time to retire.

    • AlexH

      Talking about the process is a way to scapegoat people because it is vague and anybody can be accused of “not following it”

    • ARED

      I appreciate you mentioning #1. And I felt the same way hear Lloyd in that interview. She always has a way to talk about “I” when it is good, and “we” or even “they” (her teammates) when it is bad. She plays hard, but is not a captain I would enjoy playing with or “following”.

      I also felt they undervalued their own tournament and it was a bit rude or unsportsmanlike as you say. It’s important to see how you do against “the best in the world”, but then if you do poorly -now it wasn’t important?

      I don’t mind mentioning briefly about “trying new things” and “learning”, but at some point the impression is these are excuses and you are unable or unwilling to admit and discuss the true issues.

    • nwslfan

      this take is pure fire! love it!

    • SpiritFan80

      I was appalled by Carli’s post game interview also. IMO she’s an awful captain. So many of them said how important this tournament was in building and seeing where they are “in the process”. Now, because they got torched, it’s not that important?

      • DNG

        I am no fan of Lloyd and maybe I am wrong on this but I don’t actually think the results are that important and that might have been all she meant by it. The tournament can be important while the results aren’t. Whether she thinks it’s important or not, it was to me and I think it did give us a pretty clear picture of where they are as a team. Winning or losing though, not important to me in the slightest and maybe not for the players either.

        • Terry Lash

          Winning is always important. Quality of play is even more important. The team failed on both .

          • DNG

            I don’t agree at all on winning. If the goal is to see how the back three and a player like Allie Long does in a 3 back against the best teams, no one should be surprised if it blows up in the team’s face. The team should be more concerned with how they were played which wasn’t very good. Winning a friendly tournament doesn’t mean anything to me. Learn from the losses and get better.

          • Terry Lash

            We will just have to agree to disagree on the winning aspect. But as I said how the the team played was even more important. And, as you say, they did not play “very good.”

          • DNG

            The only time I feel winning is important for the NT is at major competitions or qualifying for those competition. As far as I’m concerned the rest of the matches should be used to find out what you need to about the pool of players and see how they best fit together. If that means you do not win every match then fine.

          • Silver Frost

            I wonder how many managers in Premier League share your attitude about winning.

          • DNG

            “The only time I feel winning is important for the NT”

            Did you miss this? I was not talking about a manager coaching league matches. The situations are completely different. Friendlies are pre-season matches for clubs and guess what. Pre-season matches don’t matter at all either.

        • SpiritFan80

          i admire Lloyd to a certain extent and at the same time she drives me crazy, if that makes sense. I don’t think she’s a good captain, though. The winning isn’t important for me. I was okay with the loss to England. I thought the team played relatively well. I’ll okay with this loss also if we see adjustments made in the next set of matches. Learning from a loss is what’s important and, to me, it just feels like Ellis is forcing this, perhaps to the detriment of some players.

        • Silver Frost

          Then it’s going to be a pretty pointless life if you don’t care about playing except when the WC comes around. She Believes is the most prestigious woso tournament after WC, OG, EUROs. These are the best four woso teams on the planet. If you don’t know how to win in this event, how are you going to play in a WC?

          • DNG

            Not pointless at all if you care about finding out information about your players and team. I never said the matches were meaningless, just that I didn’t care if the team won. Those things are not the same.

    • captainfate

      I don’t think it’s an absence of leadership among the players, just that Carli Lloyd is a black hole of leadership. She’s just not the kind of player you would make the Captain of a TEAM. It’s like you only award her as Captain because she saved your skins so many times before, but not because she actually encourages other team members when the chips are down. When things are going well, she’s fine (I thought she did a good job integrating the new players like Mewis and McCaffrey into the fold after the WWC, participating in their silly videos and whatnot), but when things are tough, she lashes out and gets very defensive of her own abilities while throwing everyone else under the bus. The difference is that this time, there’s no Hope Solo to haul her ass up a mountain to get her head out of her own ass.

      Sauerbrunn made a much better statement after the match. She admitted that the backline got burned constantly and the team did not work as cohesively as a unit as they should have, while still treading that fine line of following USSF’s directives (“the process”). She didn’t throw anyone under the bus. She said it was a bad team performance, and that they had to reflect on it together as a team.

      • ken long

        well said, Sauerbrunn is the boss. I wish Ellis would talk to Andonovski in KC about how to make a team and use midfielders properly, or better just make him the WNT coach

    • Guest

      Lol the young players prevented them from winning but the Germans/French who utilized young players………..

  • Jon Forsythe

    Ellis is quite stubborn and has little ability to improvise and change tactics as a game is progressing. If she thinks a player is great (Long, Lloyd) she will keep using them over and over again despite evidence from multiple games. If she views a player as weak (Press, KO, Krieger), she will continue to view them as weak despite good games. The only reason the US come out of the WC as winners was because she couldn’t use 2 players and was forced to submit a different game roster. A 3-5-2 can work against weaker teams but the past 6 months has shown that is doesn’t draw out the best from our players. Players should NOT be played out of position and one of the assistant coaches needs to speak up some dissent about Ellis’ decisions. JJ and Broon are world class CBs; Long is not. This was a tactical disaster that lays at the feet of the head coach.

    • Ashley C

      Her in-game tactics are my biggest concern + it’s easy for an opposing team’s manager to see what she’s trying to do. And it’s like she went to the David Moyes School of Substitutions.

      • Yes, she is sorely lacking at managing the game as it is being played. It’s one thing to devise a strategy that doesn’t work. It’s another thing entirely to see that it doesn’t work and at halftime refuse to do anything to change those tactics and make positive adjustments. Good managers fight the situation as it changes on the field – they don’t pick a strategy and stay with it come hell or high water when it obviously isn’t working.

        • mockmook

          And JE has to learn or know that these games are also an opportunity to practice good coaching (just as it is an opportunity for players to demonstrate good play).

      • captainfate

        Her choice of substitutes and timing (3 substitutes at one go is more often than not detrimental to the rhythm of your team when you’re on the back foot, Ellis!)

        • Terry Lash

          Shows desperation.

          • captainfate

            Didn’t realize that I had left my sentence hanging in that instance, though I think in Ellis’ case it wasn’t desperation, but a stubbornness to stick to a plan that wasn’t working.

          • Terry Lash

            Ok, maybe. It would fit her unfortunate style.

    • captainfate

      I don’t think she views KO as weak, actually. KO started most of her games last year. She was dealing with a minor injury (I assume sometime between camp and the first match vs GER), and getting her subbed on (Even at 80′) showed that Ellis still values her. I’m not sure if Krieger would have played vs ENG if KO was 100% fit.

      • Cc W

        KO and Alex were so close to connecting on one of the few opportunities created. It also seems like KO is a vocal leader – she probably should have been a captain

        • captainfate

          I would love to see her as captain one day. Even if it was just for her 100th cap. She has the ability to lead and connects with both the veterans and the newbies. Assuming she’s still with Sky Blue after this season, I think she would be taking over the armband from Rampone.

    • SpiritFan80

      I wonder if the dissent will have to come from the players as a group. I wouldn’t be surprised if they waited until they got the CBA worked out. It’s been rumored that the vets got together and had Sermanni fired(unfairly IMO). If Ellis stubbornly insists on sticking with the 3-back and is not willing to make adjustments, I’m not sure how long the players will put up with losing. Ellis said she plans on playing more top ten teams this year, this will happen again. Alex Morgan’s twitter likes after the game were interesting, makes me think that some players are losing patience with Ellis and her coaching style. And remember, with the old CBA that they are still using, the players only get bonus pay when they win. The players can only do so much when the coaching is that crappy and Ellis is getting paid either way.

  • Gary Diver

    Above sad picture of Jill Ellis reflects the sad future of USWNT

    As I responded to Steg on a different blog: Life goes on, but looking at Ellis’ commitment to Lloyd, her commitment to Morgan (who isn’t what she used to be), her commitment to playing players out of position, her commitment to not develop young players, her commitment to 3 back formation that is not working, her commitment to have no game plans/strategy, points to a bleak two years for USWNT. I can hardly wait until she puts A-Rod and Leroux back on the roster to be teamed up with Lloyd and Rapinoe.

  • AlexH

    First a thought on the “Final Thoughts”
    There is nothing “experimental” about the 3-5-2 formation. The WNT have been playing it for months. It’s just a pitiful excuse to avoid the fact that our coaches and our star players aren’t getting it done. Re arranging the players on the field is like rearranging the chairs on the Titanic. Re-arrange the coaching staff first.

    • #1Fan

      well said ..wont happen

      • DNG

        How different would the team look if Swanson was making the final decisions. I’d take Swanson part time over the coaching staff currently in place

        • #1Fan

          no idea. In College he has the luxury of being involved form soup to nuts. No idea if he would be able to do it part time.

          • DNG

            I think he could do it since he has a pretty vast knowledge base of the pool. He would probably have to keep it simpler with less crazy experiments though. I never got the impression that the USWNT manager had an overly difficult job. I suppose he’d have to find good people to do the leg wor for him though. In terms of installing a consisten system that fits the players and his style, I think he could do it.

          • rkmid71

            Well he has Michelle French as Assistant Coach and BJ Snow as Head of Talent ID.

          • guest

            seriously, I just threw up

          • DNG

            They both really need to go although I have no idea if there is anything in their contracts preventing it.

          • tonysocref

            I believe he could also do it, but ever since the dirty laundry came out about the CBA. I don’t think he or any other WoSo coach out there currently wants the job. Eliminate the restrictions and there would be several candidates applying for the position.

          • DNG

            I definitely agree on the CBA stuff. I think the players should all be paid by appearance and that they need to do away with the yearly salaries. I suppose the benefits could be an issue there if they don’t get good year round coverage from their clubs but it’s far past time the player pool was really opened up.

  • Gary Diver

    Lloyd’s Post-game Interview

    Can anybody please post this interview. If Lloyd blamed the younger players, it will cause serious and unnecessary dissension on the team. Was OG16 Debacle “all about WC19”? This ridiculous nonsense has to stop. USSF promoted SBC as a tournament of champions and it is USSF’s tournament. The excuses, excuses, excuses need to stop or people are going to walk away from their interest in USWNT.

    • Bruce

      “Nobody likes losing, especially two in a row. But this is what it’s all about – to be tested by some of the best teams in the world,” Lloyd said.

      “We had a lot of young players out there who haven’t been a part of this team. At the end of the day this was our first tournament of the year and it’s not easy. We’re not going to come in here and win by six or seven goals. Our focus is 2019 and the road is slowly creeping up. We don’t want to peak too early.”

      • Gary Diver

        “We don’t want to peak too early.” Lloyd actually said that? These comments are a mix of platitudes and self-serving nonsense.

      • tonysocref

        What ever she’s smoking, I want some 🙂

      • The first sentence is fine, but it really goes downhill from there.

        Blaming young players
        Saying they aren’t part of the team.
        Blaming it on the first tournament of the year. How often does the US play more than one tournament a year?
        We’d take winning by one goal. Hell, we’d take scoring more than one goal in a tournament.
        Disingenuous to claim that only 2019 matters when they are playing 3 of the best teams in the world today.
        Peak too early? Will they peak at all?

        • #1Fan

          Great leader

        • Steglitz49

          The Algarve, Cyprus and Istria cups have just shown us how even WoSo has become. Granted, it was even already in WC-11 and some may even claim back in OG-00, but there seem to be few if any easy matches at the top.

  • Gary Diver

    Broken Record

    The shortcomings of USWNT is starting to sound like a broken record and if things don’t change soon, people will vote with their feet and stop caring about what happens to USWNT.

  • Patrick Keeler

    One player not mentioned in the piece was Casey Short. She was unbelievably awful against France and not much better against Germany. France must have watched the Germany game (in fact, they were in the tunnel watching it) and must have noticed that Short routinely runs out of position. How many times did French players get in behind her last night? Morgan Brian several times had to sprint 60 yards to get into Short’s vacated position and stop a French attack. When Short got the ball, many times she would dribble 15 yards forward at a full sprint, only to stop, spin, and play the ball weakly back to Long. What was she doing? Other times she simply turned the ball over.

    Christine Press brings some skill but one thing she can’t do (and neither can Lynn Williams) is hold up the ball. Every time they sent her an outlet pass she let it run through her legs. I’ve never seen a CF nutmegged by their own CB from 30 yards away; I saw that 4-5 times last night. Alex Morgan, is the only forward option that can actually hold up the ball.

    Heath, as great as she is, is one footed. I can’t believe any defender gets fooled that she will ever use her left. Still, lots of players like Robben are one footed wingers. What Heath does rarely looks like how Robben plays the wing. Since she was inverted on the left (with left footed LaVelle inverted on the right), she would juke her way to the end line and then do nothing. One time she cut in (as an inverted winger should do) and actually had one of the most dangerous chances the USA had all tournament. I wonder if USA women like Heath have dominated on pure athletic ability their whole career that they actually have no tactical IQ.

    As of today, the USWNT’s best player is Crystal Dunn. The minutes and position given to Lloyd should be given to her. Mewis/Brian/Dunn is a midfield 3 that would be dominant. Mewis/Brian/Horan would be as good too if Dunn is forward. Put Lavelle on the left, Heath on the right, and Morgan up top in a 4-3-3 with O’Hara/Sauer/Johnson/anybody but Short or Krieger and it would be vastly superior to anything the USA rolled out in this tournament.

    Speaking of the tournament, 70-80,000 USWNT fans paid good money for what is not the WC but could be equivalent to the Men’s Gold Cup over time (or FIFA’s Confederations Cup). Ellis (and Lloyd) flushed that down the toilet by letting everyone know this is the equivalent of baseball spring training’s first week. Of course, will fans pay $50-100 next year for a $10 effort?

    • AlexH

      I will give Short a pass mainly because she is young and was probably following Jill’s orders to push into the attack or some such nonsense. Press played better than Williams so it is mind boggling that she got pulled. Heath and Robben was effective so I can live with that.

      • Steglitz49

        Avaldsnes! Avaldsnes!! Avaldsnes!!!

      • #1Fan

        if you do, it would be the only successful PASS she made all game …

        • DNG

          The conundrom of what to do with Short. She’s left footed and athletic but has very little technical quality

          • #1Fan

            astounding really considering all the technical chat from USSF that we have Short and Williams on the team.

          • DNG

            I think it’s the right call to bring them into camp. The problem is that there is always going to be people who are unhappy no matter who you pick. They both had pretty good NWSL years where athleticism still rules. I don’t know where they go for a LB if they rule Short out. Maybe O’Hara but she’s not a grear crosser with her left foot

        • AlexH

          Nice one.
          To me the biggest problem with Short that she was often caught too far up field to effectively defend. That is why I think she was following orders. I was by no mean thrilled by her performance but unlike the experienced players that laid an egg, Short has way more upside.

      • Breakers fan

        She’s still my first choice for left back. I think if you look soberly at the entirety of her play throughout the tournament she was overall ok. Some mistakes but a lot of decent to very good play. I know that view isn’t commonly held here but it’s the way I see it. I’m projecting her into the future vs. our other options. Whenever a back makes a glaring positional error that leads to a goal people, maybe rightly, but one instance of that and people jump all over it like there’s no tomorrow. There is tomorrow. Amazingly, with her speed, she actually almost still stopped that cross from being made. I like her. With her speed and toughness I would keep her there. I don’t think she’s underrated technically too. Not great but not terrible. I think she will learn from her mistakes. If “learning” is no longer allowed or considered a legitimate concept and possibility for players then we’ve become insufferable as observers of the sport.

        Whoever wants her out please name who you’d rather have in? My other choices are Hinkle and Tegan McGrady of Stanford.

    • Ashley C

      Perhaps it’s her quick feet but idk why players defending her don’t grasp that much like Robben, you never let Heath cut in. I’ve always been a fan of Heath but sometimes it’s obvious what she’s trying to do. The US program as a whole relies a lot on individual skill and athleticism vs having both that and technical skill and a football IQ. One up and coming player who I think has good IQ/knows what she wants to do with the ball without being wasteful is Jessie Fleming. Obviously they play in different positions but I’d like to see that in more young players. Lavelle seems to have it or at least did vs England and in college.

    • DNG

      Heath one footed? I don’t think we are watching the same player. She is a poor ball striker though.

      • Absurdities

        Yes, that winning 25 yd FK in the 2013 NWSL championship was really weak.

        • DNG

          I didn’t realize one great free kick was the measure of whether or not someone is a consistently great ball striker. I think she’s a very good player but she’s a poor ball striker and finisher.

    • Steglitz49

      At least Tobin does not cheat like Robben, which must be counted her for merit at the pearly gates.

  • AlexH

    And now for my thoughts (which I am sure you are all waiting for).
    1) France showed us the future and it is muscles, wheels and direct play. There was nothing fancy about what they did. They passed the ball between or over our defenders and had their fitter, faster stronger players run onto it to create chances. They did to us what we used to do to them.
    2) Our backline sucked. They are simply too slow to play the “modern game”
    3) That Jill subbed in Dunn and Pugh at the half showed that she was either a) a complete idiot for not realizing what France was about until it knocked her upside the head with the obvious or b) she lacked the courage of her convictions and denied her team the opportunity to work through the situation and try to salvage it. All she succeeded in doing was creating a situation that was neither competitive or educational.
    4) The fact that she took out RL and CP who were playing pretty well instead of Williams and Carli who stuck make me think that 3a (a complete idiot) is the way to go. Taking out Mewis just added salt to the wounds.
    5) Naher needs to be flogged for giving up the PK. The last thing a keeper should do in a bad situation is make it worse by committing a red card offense at the 10 minute mark. She was lucky not to be shown the door.
    6) Stop talking about evolution and processes. If there ever was a program that reloads rather than rebuilds it is the USWNT. Losing is never an option.

    • Bruce

      “All she succeeded in doing was creating a situation that was neither competitive or educational.”

      Couldn’t agree more. It was clear that she was hoping the team could muscle its way back into the game. Problem is that it isn’t 2012 anymore.

    • #1Fan

      1. I dont agree. i think you are underestimating a few things. good control , good passing and good movement. Sure they have some speed and strength but nothing crazy. they LOOK faster because first touch was better and movement was better. .The player on the ball has 3 options all the time . Us player has one. Also, they played that way becasue that swhere teh advantage was. I believe they have flexible enough players to play many other ways as well.

      4. Williams and Lloyd are a great example of point 1 and the difference. Williams has blazing speed, but played very “slow”

      5. dont agree on your GK take. She came out bravely and ELS was just too quick. It happens often.

      6. think you may be living in the past there. I mean look at it this way between Mewis-Killion and Pinto there is a pretty big gap. where are the players from the era in between ?

    • captainfate

      On point 5 – apparently the rules of the game have changed regarding DOGSO – if it occurs in the box, it’s a PK + yellow (or just a PK), and no longer an outright red. It’s only an outright red if it happens outside the box. But I do not understand the logic of the red card only when it’s outside the box, but… it is what it is.

      • tonysocref

        Actually it’s a straight red for DOGSO for a deliberate hand ball no matter the location on the field.
        Straight red for DOGSO in the box: offense committed is holding, pulling or pushing, the offending player does not play the ball or there is no chance for the player making the challenge to play the ball or any offense that is punishable by a straight red no matter where it is committed on the field. (serious foul play, violent conduct ect.)
        In this case she made a play for the ball and tripped the oncoming player. PK with yellow card was the correct call. The PK restored the goal scoring opportunity.

  • Gary Diver

    What Became of USWNT’s Set Pieces

    USWNT’s set pieces used to be one of their best weapons. Nobody even mentions them any more. What happened?

    • dw

      The Abby ball Era is over. It is now the nothing ball era.

      • Gary Diver

        But even the corner kicks are uneventful.

        • ARED

          Maybe if Long AND Johnston were on the field attacking them….

          • AlexH

            You still need to get it over the wall or past the near post defender, which we can’t.

          • ARED

            Yeah, I thought it was interesting to have Lavelle take them. Heath is very good (for me), and Lavelle is good enough to do it, but on such a cold day she was really struggling from that corner to find enough power.

            It’s always harder when the opponent is both organized and physically a match. And usually, even in the Wambach days, they did a lot better against the small and unorganized teams, and struggled more against the good ones.

          • DNG

            Heath’s service was good yesterday(which wasn’t the case against Germany). Just no Dominant set piece players on the field for the US right now

          • ARED

            I agree, I don’t expect a player to always be perfect, and actually really like when the USA had Heath, Rapinoe, and Holiday -3 great options for me, each slightly different. Of course Lloyd will always take them if she thinks she can shoot, which is shame.

        • Oh man, I can’t believe no one has mentioned the dreadful USWNT corner kicks over the past year. I HATE the short corners, the experimental, tricky corners that never result in anything.

          Heath is a player who can actually bend the ball into the goal, yet they keep coming up with these ridiculous short corner scenarios instead. One of the closest chances last night was when Heath finally took a traditional corner kick. Especially when players like Mewis, Long, Johnston are on the field they need to shoot the ball at the goal on a corner.

        • dw

          Really stupid, right? We have many potential target players. Horan, Mewis, Long, Williams, even Morgan and Lloyd. But nothing ball is nothing ball

    • ARED

      They are overthinking these too, I believe. They are focused on setting them up to be tricky, and they may be better to just play it in to players making normal set piece runs.

      It’s really silly to me to work so hard for the throw in plays they do. Seriously, they think they are better slowing down the game to let Sauerbrunn throw it in for a harmless flick to the GK or out of play, than just letting Heath/Dunn/Pugh grab the ball and throw it in quickly to continue what little momentum they sometimes have generated.

      • Especially in the rain last night they should have tried to put every corner kick on goal and force the GK into a save instead of trying the trickery which has never actually worked for us.

    • AlexH

      Coaching. Poor set piece play is on the coach.

  • AlexH

    So in a dream world where Jill gets fired I think the federation should hire Wenger as the WNT coach. Sure he is past his sell by date at Arsenal but he is great coach and wouldn’t be intimidated by either the suits or the players. The WNT deserves a great coach not federation, lifer retreads.

    • ARED

      Hahaha, oh wow the media circus would be intense….

      Somehow after 25 years of zero criticism of the USA manager, it would be a hurricane of dissent! ; )

      • AlexH

        Well they say all publicity is good publicity right?
        An added advantage would be that his buyout would probably be too expensive so that the Sermani coup d’ etat could not occur.

        • ARED

          Indeed. I think he could do it, although his communication may not be as strong as some of the players may prefer. (Not that I think Ellis communicates well, but some managers do and you can see the connection they have with the players).

    • #1Fan

      8 mm per ..no way

  • Gary Diver

    Jill Ellis’s Tactics and Game Plan

    Other articles have pointed out that the French coach definitely had been watching game films and had a specific game plan to be used against USWNT that his players knew about and executed as a unit. What was Jill Ellis’ game plan or even tactics? Did her players know it? (Every good coach has a specific game plan for each match.)

    • #1Fan

      do you believe that? Every coach has film on teams. I think he just has tactically better players and knew how to exploit 352.

    • Rob

      Quoting Jill: “I didn’t expect the French play such a direct game” ***eye roll** Excellent preparation by the coaching staff!!!

  • Gary Diver

    Experimenting

    The upcoming Russian Friendlies would be a perfect opportunity to experiment with a new coach. As everyone connected with USWNT tells us: “It is a learning process.”

    • #1Fan

      I dont see there being a change

    • NYRick

      For the number one rated team in the world, this team certainly “experiments” an awful lot. I don’t think even freakin Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein experimented like this.

      And here’s the key: when you are the top team in the world, even when you experiment, it should just be a slight adjustment/disadvantage maybe to your overall play. It should not be an excuse.

      It’s like Nick Saban saying, “I was just experimenting with my sophomore DBs for this game. It’s all a process even though we got beat 31-7.”

      • #1Fan

        why do you think they are the top team in the world ? FIFA rankings?

        • Johnny Turner Jr

          Carli Lloyd told us that the USWNT is the best team ever. Furthermore we have Pugh the best youth player of all times and Lavelle who seems to be the best women’s soccer player ever when it comes to technical abilities. Isn’t that enough bulletproof evidence?

          • #1Fan

            Brilliant post .

        • NYRick

          Yeah, FIFA rankings. What else is there to go on? I know they are not accurate, but it’s claim a team can make once those rankings come out for that moment in time. Personally, I think right now they may be the 4th or 5th ranked team in the world. That is not far-fetched thinking by any measure.

      • Lorehead

        But coaches do that in exhibition games, don’t they? I don’t really want to put too much pressure on the USWNT coach to win all their friendlies, because there have to be some low-stakes games. And the three-back seems like an idea worth trying. The points about playing Lloyd and Long less sound well-taken to me, but I unavoidably missed the last game and so can’t weigh in on that.

        • NYRick

          Sorry, playing against England, France and Germany are not so-called “exhibitions” for this program. They are key matches. All the top players for all the teams play in these matches if healthy. Romania, Russia, Costa Rica etc., those are the games to experiment in? Not these.

          The 3 back was a monumental and unnecessary risk for these 3 games against this type of competition. Especially when 2/3 of that 3 formation were: 1) A newbie, with potential but less than 5 caps to her name and 2) A midfielder with less than 2 caps to her name actually playing the CB position. It was begging to be exploited, and LeSommer actually did them a favor. Now the question remains, can they learn from it? I say not with this coach.

          • Lorehead

            I won’t endorse all of Jill Ellis’ lineup decisions, but I’m glad she was willing to take a monumental and unnecessary risk.

    • Steglitz49

      Judging by Sweden v Russia being played in Algarve, those matches could end 6-0 if not 8-0 to the US.

      • Gary Diver

        But those matches would probably end up 6-0 if you were coaching USWNT. Playing Russia is a waste of time in terms of “developing this team”. I would rather see the U23 team play Russia. Now that might be interesting.

        • Steglitz49

          The Russian lasses will benefit, no doubt. Maybe they can surprise us in Euro-17?

          • Opi

            Nonsense

  • Gary Diver

    Elephant in the Room

    Does Jill Ellis have the confidence of her players? If not, either it is trouble for Ellis or it is trouble for USWNT.

    • #1Fan

      As the older guard fade, the more Ellis needs to win over the youth. I think she is focused on the wrong player . Instead of Lloyd, she needs to get Morgan Brian back. Everything fails into place form there becasue all the young players love Brian

      • Gary Diver

        Good point and I agree. But Ellis needs to change course or eventually the bus will run over her. I can’t see Ellis supporting Lloyd’s egomania through WC19 ending well for her.

      • rkmid71

        It doesn’t surprise me that the young players love Brian. I could see the team mentality changing overnight if Brian became the focal point. It really does seem like an elegant solution (one change) to turning things around quickly. Make her a captain to replace Lloyd.

        • #1Fan

          Her game needs to warrant it. Right now it does not. What it would do is show that you value the things she possesses

          • rkmid71

            Does Lloyd’s game warrant it? Does her actual performance as captain (separate from the on field) warrant it?

          • Bruce

            With almost everyone playing out of position in a broken system, it will be increasingly hard for a leader to emerge based on performance. The only player that seems to show no loss of form is Brunn.

          • #1Fan

            no, but she is a veteran. A young capt needs to be an automatic selection

    • Steglitz49

      You could turn it around and argue that JE has fed out more than enough rope. Now is time to check the lamp-posts and trees to see who is swinging having been hoisted by their own petard.

  • Gary Diver

    Forgotten Point

    USWNT was playing in USSF’s tournament before home crowds. That is a great advantage. Take away that advantage and USWNT performance is even worse.

  • kimchikvetch

    A common refrain in American football is ‘speed kills’ and I know it’s not as decisive a quality in soccer, but lack of pace in the post-Rampone era continues to haunt the back line. It led to Sweden’s counter-attacking goal in Brazil, so in response, Ellis adds an even slower player to the back?

    France’s speed killed repeatedly yesterday.

    • #1Fan

      France hurt US wide becasue of the formation.

      • Steglitz49

        Acceleration did the damage.

      • #1Fan

        to add. you can only use direct speed when running in space. The space in 352 is behind the WBs when they are high.

        Example 1 Renard hit a ball over the LWB into that hole. Long covered and got beaten for pace.

        Example 2 ELS checked int a cam type position . Drew the rwb RCB and the ball as played over the top for the RB to gain the end line and cross for a tap in.

        The lack of wide defenders was exploited in multiple ways most of which were speed of thought and execution as much as speed of foot. Pugh or Dunn are as fast as anyone and yet how often in that game did you see them running into space with or without the ball ? US did not engineer positions from which they could use speed.

    • mockmook

      That’s not speed that is doing in the back line in, that’s positioning. It shouldn’t be that easy to get behind a back line (regardless of formation or speed of the backs).

      If the backs are “slow”, KEEP THEM CLOSER TO GOAL — have at least one deep DM ready to support the backs — hold back one or both of the WBs/OMs when attacking.

  • NYRick

    Why is it always a “learning experience” for every other player but never quite seems to be one for Carli? Pulling her at halftime would have been a learning experience for her too. The learned experience would have been “we are not giving you the free ride to WC19 that you think you are entitled to get.”

    I honestly think Ellis is afraid of her. Ellis should just say for once, “I washed and waxed your car now for the better part of nearly two years. We’re freakin even. Now F off and ride some pine and watch the kid Lavelle play the 10. You may actually LEARN something.”

    • #1Fan

      Ellis said Lloyd was learning the #10

      • rkmid71

        Is anyone aware of a 34 or 35 yr old player (male or female) learning the #10 position? Even one that’s played it all their life would likely be considering moving further back on the field at that stage in their career. They should just make Lloyd a forward and rotate her with other forwards — that way she’s not affecting the rest of the team so much.

        • #1Fan

          Bad idea. Get rid

    • Steglitz49

      There must be 3 if not 5 natural #10 among US lasses. Find them! Try them!! Decide.

  • HOFCToDi

    Fire Jill Ellis!

    Hire Vlatko Andonovski!

    Vlatko knows how to coach an all-American team (reference 2015 FCKC).

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_FC_Kansas_City_season#First-team_squad

    Time to revert back to a 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 tactical formation.

    • Steglitz49

      2014 as well as 2015

  • Gary Diver

    Off-topic Alert: Spain beats Canada 1-0 in Algarve Cup Final.

    Herdman put a 15-year old on the field. Interesting that Ellis couldn’t put Pinto on the field.

    The tweets from the match indicated that Herdman had a plan B when he got behind. Have we ever seen a visible plan B when Ellis got behind? Not at OG16 QF and not in the SBC games. Does Ellis believe in tactics? Not one person here has ever explained specifically what Jill Ellis’ game plan was for any match other than to “have her best players on the field”.

    • Steglitz49

      Eviva Espana! Who scored for them?

      • Gary Diver

        “Canada trailed early with FC Barcelona’s Leila Ouahabi connecting on a high shot from outside the penalty box in the fifth minute. The goal was only the second conceded by Canada in four games at the tournament.”

    • Cc W

      It’s nice to see the Spanish women’s team play so well. Now that they got rid of that bad coach who didn’t care they’re already seeing results.

  • HOFCToDi

    Hey Sunil Gulati,

    Notice four defenders on the back line (LB, CB, CB, RB):

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_FIFA_World_Cup_Final#Details

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_FIFA_World_Cup_Final#Details

    Fire Jill Ellis! Deallocate Allie Long!

    • guest

      well he’s not b*tching about Christen Press anymore

  • Gary Diver

    USWNT Catch-22

    Looking at HOFCToDi’s tweets has made me realize that everything is interconnected: Ellis, Lloyd forever starting and in WC19 & OG20, Rapinoe, Long, the lack of development in Morgan Brian and Mallory Pugh, the situation of not-sure where to play Dunn and Press, the 3 back formation, the lack of young player development, no development of a young GK, no discernible game plans for any games, and no accountability for match results.

    If Ellis stays, everything else will stay the same. (Leopards and Jill Ellis don’t change spots.) Your choice. Are we going to continue this farce until WC19?

    • HOFCToDi

      Allie Long is no messiah, no matter where she plays on the pitch.

    • #1Fan

      there was a time when she may have just gotten lucky . bailed out by the US advantage. Im not sure I see that happening

      • AlexH

        I think her “luck” was that the players basically mutinied during the knockout round of the WC. Can’t prove it but I think that is what happened.

    • NYRick

      Trust me, she’s not going anywhere. She’ll be in France for WC19. The day after the 5th place overall finish she will then be fired. She will have her alter ego #10 captaining the squad and playing 90 each match as well. Carli will officially announce her retirement the day after the 5th place WC finish as well.

  • Gary Diver

    Morgan Brian

    Morgan Brian may be the key that opens a lock. Either Ellis turns to Brian (maybe by making her captain) or Brian may have to turn on Ellis in order to save USWNT. Brian is a very good soccer player and a smart individual who carries a lot of clout with the younger players. I am sure she realizes that USWNT cannot continue on its current path and she is one of the few people who can use her influence to make a difference.

    • Steglitz49

      Moe may have lost her motivation.

      • Gary Diver

        Let’s hope not.

        • Steglitz49

          Once the motivation goes, it is hard to get it back. It is like unto a spring snapping.

      • rkmid71

        The coach favoritism referred to by Jon Forsythe below could be a factor. Not a trait of a quality coach. It wears on the others joy and love for the game. Compound that with a “me first” team captain, enabled by the coach, who openly criticizes teammates, takes no responsibility, while apparently insisting on 90′ every game … while being what any objective observer would determine among the worst performing players. It’s no surprise the team has been playing poorly. The sum is actually less than the individual parts.

    • NYRick

      I like Brian, but it seems she has lost her way for whatever reason. To be honest, in a good stretch of these 3 games I didn’t even realize she was on the pitch. Brian at 24 does not seem to be the same Brian at 21/22. She is still young enough to turn it around and get back in form but something is wrong with her (fitness, injuries, motivation, being content etc. where she thinks her place is secure etc.). But something is not quite right. This is not the same player, one whom the program was directly after WC15 viewing as a cornerstone moving forward.

      • Gary Diver

        Good analysis. It doesn’t make sense that Brian is less a player at 24 than she was at 21/22. If it is a motivation problem, as Steg has suggested, it may reflect the chaos in USWNT leadership: both Ellis and Lloyd. Maybe she is tired of being Lloyd’s protector and provider. It would be a nice experiment to bench Lloyd and move Brian into her spot. Giving Brian a leadership role in the MF may give her her motivation back.

        • NYRick

          Brian has become the “new” Holiday for Lloyd. The US midfield: “where promising star players’ careers go to die…playing alongside Lloyd.”

  • Gary Diver

    Stay the Course

    Often when things go badly the defensive reaction is “stay the course”. This is a very good point to ask ourselves: “Should USWNT stay the course? Or should USWNT shift directions?”

  • Gary Diver

    Canadian Perspective from CBC

    USWNT Gets Crushed by France, Finishes Last in 2017 SheBelieves Cup

    “Hosting a mini tournament on home soil, the U.S. women’s national team was expected to take home the SheBelieves Cup this year, just like last. The Americans needed to beat France to come away on top, but in the end, it couldn’t have gone much worse. The U.S. lost 3-0 to France in Washington on Tuesday to finish dead last in the four-team competition.”

    http://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/uswnt-gets-crushed-by-france-finishes-last-in-2017-shebelieves-cup/

    • Bruce

      Not to nitpick, but that’s from CBS, not the CBC.

      • Gary Diver

        Yikes, you are right. I am sorry. Too many posts today. Actually it sounds worse coming from CBS than from CBC.

  • Gary Diver

    Canada’s Youth Future

    The average age of Herdman’s starting XI for Algarve Cup Final was under 22 years old.

    • Steglitz49

      How old were the Spaniards?

      • Gary Diver

        I don’t know, but Herdman’s tournament roster had 7 teenagers. No matter how you look at it, it is remarkable. We can see where he is going for WC19.

        Some will argue that because Canada has 1/10 US population, Herdman is forced to play youth. No! Population has nothing to do with age distribution of roster. Herdman had a very old team at WC15 and could still have a very old team is he chose to have one. It is a matter of choice and selection.

  • Reality

    Holy #*&@! Barcelona comes back after 5-1 loss in first game to PSG in CL and wins 6-1!

    • rkmid71

      I guess that mindless possession soccer wasn’t so mindless in that game! One wonders whether PSG sat back and tried to defend or if they tried the high pressure tactics of game 1 that created many of their chances.

      • Reality

        Barcelona turned the tables in this game and played high pressure with a possession rate of around 65%. Enrique is stepping down after this season. I think he should give a shot at coaching women’s soccer. 🙂

        • rkmid71

          So far on EQ the proposed coach replacement list includes Enrique, Wenger, Vlatko, and Swanson (as the conservative option). I might have missed some others.

          • Reality

            I wonder who is on Gulati’s short list? I would guess the usual USSF suspects.

          • rkmid71

            DiCicco probably? Kind of the Bruce Arena of the women?

          • Reality

            He could play the so called “White Knight” come to rescue the damsel in distress.

          • Guest

            I am pretty sure he has clearly expressed a desire to regain his WNT coaching position.

          • CED

            Unfortunately Ellis is going nowhere soon. The team will have to flounder for another year for there to be a chance of replacing her. If next SBC they get this result she may be in jeopardy as Wcup quals are fall 2018. Even then I think they won’t fire her b/c of 2015.

          • Reality

            I had mentioned in an earlier post that Ellis’s downfall might result from a crisis in confidence by the players themselves in her leadership and coaching ability. With Sermanni, it was a coup d’etat by veterans who felt threatened by his youth movement. In Ellis’s case, if her overall judgement in managing the team is in question, the morale of the team will be damaged and the development of the program will be compromised.

          • mockmook

            I’m sure they want a new CBA and to see how the team is shaped and responds before deciding on any coaching move.

          • Reality

            I don’t see Gulati moving quickly on any coaching change unless his hand is forced in some way. One would think that the Sermanni precedent would have laid the groundwork for removing Ellis after OG2016 and SBC. However, unlike Sermanni, Ellis is part and parcel of the USSF establishment so it will take more justification to fire her. And your point is well taken that there are still some issues to be settled like the CBA and Gulati will want to use performance as an issue to negotiate with the USWNTPA rather than immediately deflate the performance issue by discharging Ellis. If he does indeed conclude that coaching is an issue, he can address that at his leisure once he leverages a better deal with the players.

          • Gary Diver

            If USWNT crashes out at 2018 SBC and Ellis is not fired, somebody is insane.

          • NYRick

            Sir Alex can come out of retirement and manage the USWNT from his box at Old Trafford and I’d be good with it. He doesn’t even have to make the trip across the pond. Video conferencing is fine. Tony G can run the in person practices.

          • mockmook

            I’d add Holly and Kerkorian

      • CED

        Life long Barca fan and was going crazy all game. PSG set back the 1st half and gave up a goal in the first 3 minutes. Barca had them under pressure entire 1st half and PSG was fortunate to give up just 2. PSG came out scared and tentative, Barca pressed more than they ever do. 2nd half PSG came out more but gave up a goal again within 5 minutes. PSG actually got a goal on a set piece after Rakitic foul he had to make to prevent a counter. At 3-1 the Barca hit a lull for a bit with some enthusiasm out of the crowd. Then the mad dash the end of the game. Overall Barca high pressed and possessed. If they lost the ball they sent to players to win it back and often did. PSG broke the 1st line of the press several times which lead to counters, but didn’t put away the couple of cjances they had.

        • #1Fan

          And the ref caved to home pressure with some horrendous calls

          • DNG

            Barca always get the calls at home.

          • CED

            Don’t pull on a player in the box and you don’t have to worry about a PK.

          • #1Fan

            I dont root for either team. I love watching Barca play. I hate the diving and the acting . It ruins the game . If that kind of pulling on a player is going to be called a penalty then we will haev 15 per game. One at EVERY corner kick or set piece delivery into the box for sure

  • truf

    So where are those people now who were defending this idiotic three back system?

    • Constant Weeder

      I was one of them, and I still think it’s too early to write it off. We won’t really know anything until we see what happens without Lloyd on the field, which I hope will be soon. So many incipient US attacks were foiled by Lloyd as much as by the French. Ellis has a year to a year-and-a-half to settle on a system for the WC and then a similar amount of time to make it work. If her experiments work, she’ll be seen as brilliant, and if they don’t she’ll be gone.

      • CED

        To play a 3 back against good teams you need to have a dominant MF, one that doesn’t turn the ball over, keeps possession, etc..things the US has never proven to be able to do. 2 great CM’s are needed, a great DM and a #10, to put “their foot on the ball” and control the pace, while play making. The fact is US natural tendency is to play quick,attack and thus give up possession, and in a 4 back giving up possession cheaply puts the 3 in the back under stress. If you notice the games in th e 3 back have been wide open and stretched.

        • Frozen Blue

          YES… I can’t believe we even tried this without a strong established DM, even in a 4 back we have been struggling for lack of a DM.

    • mockmook

      Still here.

      Where were those people who defended a 4-back system after OG16?

      IOW, it’s not the system, it is the merging of personnel and system (and using sound tactics for whichever system you choose).

  • Gary Diver

    US Women’s Soccer Fans Demand Team Fire Coach Jill Ellis After Historic Loss

    “They already had a rough tournament, but this marked the first time in 17 years that the squad suffered back to back losses after dropping their match against England Mar. 4 by a score of 1-0. They only scored once in the ENTIRE friendly tournament with a goal against Germany by Lynn Williams, 23, back on Mar. 1. The team’s loyal fan base is calling for coach Jill Ellis, 50, to be fired after claiming her incompetence is at the root of the USWNT’s poor play.”

    We are not alone!

    http://hollywoodlife.com/2017/03/07/uswnt-fans-demand-coach-fired-jill-ellis-historic-loss-shebelieves-cup-score/

    • Kevin

      “The team’s loyal fan base is calling for coach Jill Ellis, 50, to be fired after claiming her incompetence is at the root of the USWNT’s poor play.”

      LOL… that’s the one word I’ve used over and over in my posts to describe her coaching, “incompetence”.

      • rkmid71

        Yes. But I saw in comments many were recommending Rampone or another vet as replacement coach. And likely bringing back the old guard players.

        • Kevin

          Yeah, I definitely don’t agree with that at all.

          I’d rather have someone come in and clean house.

          • Gary Diver

            I agree with you.

  • Constant Weeder

    I’ve been trying to figure out why Lloyd has gotten so much playing time. I don’t buy the idea that coaches have pets – there’s too much incentive for the coach to produce a winning team, at least in the long run. (And it may be giving her too much credit, but I do think Ellis is playing a long game.) I think we often oversimplify Ellis’s (or any NT coach’s) job. Not only is she supposed to produce a winning team, she also needs to keep the supporters on board, and for many this means seeing the players they recognize. So, I’ve come up with three reasons to keep playing Lloyd in this supposedly experimental time. First, she sells tickets, maybe not as much as Morgan, but she is the reigning FIFA POTY (a title I’ve come to regard as official certification that you’re over the hill). Secondly, she gives Ellis cover for a loss – if Lloyd doesn’t play, some people will say she would have saved the day. And finally, Ellis may be giving her the opportunity to prove that she doesn’t belong on the NT (which is working so far). I’d be interested to know what others think.

    • Gary Diver

      A fourth possibility. Ellis has bought into the myth that Lloyd is a player who comes up big in big matches.

      Who knows what lurches inside Ellis’ head. That is one reason why it is important for her to answer questions about how she handled OG16 and why she made the decisions she did. There is no accountability for her actions and decisions.

      As long as Lloyd stays on the field, few, if any, of the other issues troubling USWNT will get fixed. Bench Lloyd, replace her with Brian and replace Brian with Mewis is an option. But starting Lloyd is on Ellis and one or both need to go.

      • Constant Weeder

        I suppose your fourth possibility is a possibility, but I don’t believe it.
        I totally agree that Lloyd has to be gone for the team to progress, but maybe letting her demonstrate that she can’t contribute is the best way to accomplish that. If she’s still playing 90′ a year from now, unless she has improved in ways I don’t think are possible,, I’ll eat my words. (Not my hat – I like my hat,)
        In general I think the USSF should commit to a coach for a full cycle. For a coach the threat of firing for underperforming in meaningless matches is crippling to any long-term strategy. I wish Sermanni had gotten that opportunity, but we’ve got Ellis, and I think we should stick with her through the WC. If the US doesn’t at least make the final there, cut her loose.

    • rkmid71

      1. It’s not about tickets. People come to see the National TEAM.
      2. It might be the long game. Look what JE did with Wambach, Boxx, Chalupny, Rampone in the WC — first selecting them to the team, then even starting Wambach early in the tournament. They were not a major factor in the win. In the interest of winning, at the 11th hour when all else had not worked well, JE finally made the decision (or Wambach decided) that supporting from the bench was the best. Remember Wambach going on TV with that emotional interview.
      3. Cover for loss? Remember the USWNT didn’t win the WC for 16 long years. Almost didn’t even quality in 2011. What credibility did those veterans really have (the OG wins in previous years)? It wasn’t like most of them were major contributors to the 2015WC win. It was getting a young team player like Brian into midfield and Lloyd somewhere else (other than the bench). She ended up crediting Lloyd and not Brian for the result. And the 2016OG was the worst result (and performance) in USWNT history in a major tournament. And Rapinoe was more of the same, though she didn’t do what Wambach did in WC and remove herself due to lack of fitness. And now SBC2017 and the Lloyd situation.
      4. For JE, it’s not about being the best you can be. It seems to be about being good enough to not get fired, protecting the status quo, marketing and presumably following orders from above. There are just not that many tough teams to challenge the USWNT, no matter how poorly they play or are managed, so they can still win most of their matches. It’s changing a bit now with Asia and Euro teams getting better and Canada. And even teams like Colombia.

      • Constant Weeder

        1. I just disagree with you on ticket sales; I think a big chunk of the NT fan base is youngsters who want to see their idol in person (plus their parents, of course).

        2. I think she felt she could afford to include those players on the roster basically for sentimental reasons.
        3. I was talking about losses now and in the immediate future, and specifically about Lloyd, whose performance against Japan gave her an aura of magic that hasn’t quite dissipated yet.
        4. Well, I guess we’ll find out. I think she’s willing to take some hits now in order to get to the place she wants to be when the WC rolls around. If things aren’t starting to look more coherent by the fall/winter of 2018, I’ll admit I was wrong.

    • Bruce

      It probably clear to all involved that once Lloyd is out of the starting XI that there is no way she works her way back into the starting lineup.

      Teams don’t sell tickets; athletes do. Just look at how the “Alex Morgan Affect” has driven NWSL attendance over the last years. The USSF is a coin-operated organization, and from a marketing perspective, they must be worried that their four most recognized names (Wambach, Solo, Morgan, Lloyd) are either out or fading fast.

      I can’t help but believe that JE is feeling this pressure. Her inability to provide her team with a productive system that lets new stars shine only makes this worse.

      • rkmid71

        Have you seen the attendance and SNY ratings for UConn women’s basketball team in NY and CT markets? Sellouts. That “team” sells tickets. Have you seen the new capital projects they are building at UConn — $50m new sports complex, etc

        • Bruce

          College and professional fan bases and not at all the same.

          • rkmid71

            Why doesn’t the NWSL sell more tickets?

          • Bruce

            Because it doesn’t promote star players.

            Everyone gets a bump when Alex comes to town, but almost no other team has a clue on how to market its stars. I’m hyper-critical of CRS for this. They’ve done more to promote Jen Hoy over the years than Christen Press or Julie Johnston.

          • rkmid71

            Why would it promote star players that don’t show up for the team’s semifinal in the NWSL championship? Some of these star players are not really stars for their NWSL team and during OG and WC years don’t even show up for half the games. Wambach chose not to play in 2015. Many don’t seem to care. As a fan, I want to see the players that care about the team and show up to play marketed.

      • guest

        I don’t agree that athletes are selling WNT tickets at this point. Alex catapulted the popularity of WoSo in the USA, but the team can stand on its own now no matter what the lineup.

        • Bruce

          I’m not trying to be a jerk, but promoting stars over teams is kind of Sports Marketing 101.

          • DNG

            NBA is an excellent example of this although the NFL has largely gotten away without this because of the sport’s popularity.

          • #1Fan

            and becasue of helmets.

          • DNG

            NFL has gone to great lengths to remove any individuality form the game helmets or no helmets.

          • #1Fan

            Helmets cover the face. harder to identify with on a personal basis

      • NYRick

        Like you were saying below, promoting stars is Sports Marketing 101. And this USWNT has a history of doing it since they began. They figured out the individual part is easier to promote than the whole team. This One Team, One Nation is a bunch of PR crap and they know it. Lloyd is now their big gun to promote (even to the general sports media) and I’m sure Gulati is fully on-board with it. That’s why Ellis is safe imo.

        • NYRick

          And actually to add, the Lloyd half-pitch goal was the absolutely worse thing to happen to this USWNT in their 20+ year history. I don’t have a problem with the first two goals and of course winning the WC with a strong final. But it’s the half-pitch absurd (really a keeper bad error) shot that has made Lloyd immovable till WC19. Not kidding on this.

    • NYRick

      You may be getting a little deep with your thinking in presuming Ellis is playing the “long game” with Lloyd. It’s sounds like it could be smart and logical, but I think it’s nothing more than two things: 1) Fear. If she drops her even as a starter and the team loses, she will get a public outcry by the media AND Gulati. “How can you drop the two-time FIFA PoY, biggest name in the sport right now and oh the person who had the monster game in the WC final which by the way got you your big long term deal? And 2) I think she’s scared shiteless of Lloyd. I really do. Not for physical harm of course, but I think Lloyd would become so disruptive, sulk and sabotage behind the scenes.

      And for bonus points, Ellis is not that smart. She is playing Lloyd and will continue to do for WC19 as a starter right where she is (this pseudo slow #10 or withdrawn forward or whatever you want to call it). That is a given. If Ellis is the coach that is not changing. There aren’t even Vegas odds on it because it is so lock sure.

      • Constant Weeder

        Well, it looks like we’ll probably get to find out what will happen if Ellis remains the coach. Thanks for your reply.

  • guest

    Dunn needs to always be on the field. She is fantastic.

    Felt incredibly bad for Naeher and Broon.

    • anon

      the shots of Naeher during that game are heartbreaking. Allie Long was apparently blaming her for not communicating with the back line well enough on social media. Allie Long… you belong nowhere near the NT.

      • Frozen Blue

        What crap…hey back up goalies, your not good enough to even play crappy tomato can teams when Solo is on the team so you have very little useful caps to prepare yourself, now that she’s gone we are going to through you right into the fire, in a new system that requires you to play sweeper keeper and be good with the ball at your feet (neither of your strengths) with new players (one of which has never played defense before) against top 5 teams when the team is in transition…its you fault if you don’t succeed.

      • mockmook

        OK, please publish some of these links to comments by Long.

        • DNG

          I believe there was a deleted tweet where Long said she didn’t go for a ball because she heard her goal keeper say to let it through.

  • Gary Diver

    Scientific Look at USWNT’s Problem

    My background is science, so here it goes.

    USWNT is dealing with too many issues and too many factors at once. To keep Lloyd on the field, Ellis has messed up her MF, which now cannot move the ball forward or defend well. So to fix that problem, Ellis has gone to the 3 back formation. She has created additional problems in an attempt to fix previous problems going back to keeping Lloyd on the field.

    Creating problems in an attempt to fix a problem is not an acceptable solution. Scientist like to fix one problem at a time.

    A scientific approach for fixing USWNT’s problems:

    1. Bench Lloyd and go back to 4 back formation.

    2. Move Morgan Brian into Lloyd’s position.

    3. Move Sam Mewis into Brian’s position.

    4. Find the best combination of MF players to complement Brian and Mewis.

    5. Find a striker combination to complement the fixed MF.

    6. Find the best position to play Dunn.

    7. Finally, tinker with the back line and GK. The 3 back formation should be the last experiment, not the first experiment as it is now.

    • nwslfan

      another way to set a team is to first decide on a theme style of play. Have some alternative formations that fit with that style of play. Then call in players who can fit roles in the style you are using.

    • Steglitz49

      1a. Benching the FIFA POTY (2nd year in a row) is harder than MMQBs acknowledge.
      1b. 3-5-2 was Even Pellerud’s preferred starting formation. This was because it naturally mutated into 3-4-3 or 4-4-2 depending on the opposition.

      2. Give Moe Brian back her motivation.

      3 & 4. Try anything, including a 1-2-1 diamond if it floats your boat. Maybe Moe, Sam, Rose and Tobin is your midfield?

      5. If fit, Alex Morgan is one of the strikers. Maybe Savannah Jordan can fit the bill?

      6. Ask Chelsea Ladies (not née Clinton).

      7a. Get rid of the slow coaches in the back. They lost in on the Glorious 12th. They lost it against France.

      7b. Find the 6’2″ goalies, or at least 5’11” ones. They must be somewhere. If China and Japan can find tall goalies, the US has no excuses.

  • nwslfan

    I went back to find my comment on Dan’s preview article for USA v Germany waaay back on March 1. Here were my 3/1 /17 thoughts in the comments:

    “First off, great article! Second, I’m totally jazzed bc I will be at matches tonight. Agree w Dan that 3 back is huge story, esp with new GK and USA’s wunderkind holding mid out w ACL. If I were opponent, I would go right at center of back line with numbers and slip passes to exploit those opportunities. This will force other 2 CBs to tuck in to give help, and open space on outside. We’ll see how it plays out.”

    Of course, Germany failed to heed my thoughts and sat back without pressuring the back line. France did what I would have done and it paid handsome dividends for them.
    IMO, Ellis needs to do so much more as in-game tactics are concerned. I see ZERO improvement in Ellis’ game management. She did not deal with the obvious situation that France’s 4-3-3 was causing heartburn for the defense. She seems to want players to “figure it out” instead of fixing it with coaching guidance. One big issue was formation. I like overlaps, I like the back line to swivel and move and overlap. I don’t like 3 3 CBs. fight me. The other big issue was personnel, as many have noted, USA has players being asked to play positions that are not optimal for them. I my lack of faith in Ellis has dropped to new levels at this point. Thank goodness France exposed the weakness in this formation with these personnel and shredded the US with its very crisp play.

    Bright spots included Lavelle. When she gravitated centrally, she looked so natural. Want to see her in the CAM role. Mewis impressed me and I was not a fan before. I still like Short. She was very good against Germany, but she needs work. Dunn did good work.

    Obvi, I am done w Lloyd at the moment. We don’t need a jogging/trotting, cherry picking poacher. We need a midfielder playing both sides of the ball, hustling to give supporting options to players with the ball, effective ball winning, good decisions, good passing, you know, just basic basic midfielder activities. I don’t know where Long fits on this team. She is not quite good enough in midfield and definitely not ready for big games at CB. Can some coach please teach the front line to make runs and force defenders to move and open gaps and seams? Can Heath PLEASE do less slow-ass 1v1 in the final third while the other 4 defenders are given ample time to get organized while she rolls the ball with the sole of her foot and instead try to do more QUICK 2v1 combinations? Watch Japan and Germany, they understand combination play. Why is it so hard to do the basic and simple? Am I asking too much? I don’t feel like I am. I don’t know where Ellis will go from here, but we will see.
    Congrats to France! well on their way to hosting WWC 2019! Can we grab their coach?

    • Kevin

      Ellis wants the players to “figure it out” because she herself is incapable of figuring out how to counter it.

    • DNG

      Short is so very poor on the ball. She does nothing but boot it away whenever she gets it. She’s a pretty solid outside 1v1 defender with good pace but beyond that I just don’t know. I think Heath usually does well with combinations when there is support around her. She does slow the play up a little too much sometimes but often it’s because options in front of her are not on. In order to play good combination football you need others around that are going to play that way especially the forwards you are playing into. All of our forwards other than maybe Press just want to get in behind. Look at the chasm of difference between a player like Le Sommer and Alex Morgan in this respect.

      • #1Fan

        Found this yesterday. Posted on twitter after the France game. Topical given our comments the other day

        http://www.soccerwire.com/news/nt/uswnt/shawhan-uswnt-are-still-playing-unc-style-soccer-why-not-play-like-uva-or-ucla/

        • DNG

          Thanks for the article. Great read. I really liked the UNC comparison. One of the things that I think gets lost on some of the US players in that always going forward all the time does not always yield the best chances. Often with patience and skill the best players will create better chances at goal than if they just sent in every cross or took every shot that came their way. A team that could mix that in with lightning fast counter is a team to really fear. Right now the US only know one way to attack and like we’ve seen over the last year or so if you take away those turnovers in transition they become embarrassingly easy to defend.

          • #1Fan

            you took some fire yesterday after I made the comparisons, so I found it very apropos to post this.
            As I tried to say yday, Dorrance has had a huge impact, both positive and negative

        • nwslfan

          I follow fitzcamel and enjoy his articles

    • Ron Rocha

      It seems to me that any player good 1v1 with speed and good tech would drool at at the thought of facing a 3 back. Has anyone used it against us? Could it be something used against certain teams and not others?

      • #1Fan

        Not at all true.Do you see Chelsea getting killed by skilled 1 v 1 players? Its all about how you manipulate the space it offers

        • CED

          Chelsea…LOL..

  • tonysocref

    The tale of 2 teams and 2 coaches

    Full NT and Jill Ellis
    Team comes together on 20 Feb with 24 players. After a week, Ellis sends home 2 and brings in 1. Of the 23 players on the SBC roster, Ellis only uses 19. On home soil the NT finishes 1 – 2 – 0.

    U23’s and Laura Harvey
    Laura takes a group of primarily 1st and 2nd year NWSL players who have played mostly against each other and In 4 days of training gets them to buy into what ever system she is using. They leave Spain with a 2 – 1 – 0 record. Unlike Ellis, she uses all 22 of the players.

    My moneys on Laura being the better Coach.

    • guest

      Agree, Harvey is a very good coach (and demonstrated with Seattle, Arsenal etc) and better/more effective than Ellis – but being better than Ellis is low bar

      • Steglitz49

        Winning the World Cup is some bar. Failing twice to win the NWSL Championship (against the same coach to boot) is a different bar.

        Barring accidents, the USWNT ought to be a force to be reconned with again in WC-19.

    • Cc W

      Jill asking LH to take over the U23s may end up being her demise – LH may end up being the NT coach in a few years.

      • DNG

        I’d personally pick Vlatko over Harvey but I feel confident that LH would be an immediate upgrade over Ellis.

        • Cc W

          I like Vlatko too – either would be an upgrade

          • #1Fan

            i would be surprised if they picked a man. Just saying

          • DNG

            This doesn’t really make any sense to me. If a Man is the best coach for the job they are the best coach for the job. It’s not as if they haven’t had lots of men coaching them all throughout their career and almost all(minus Rapinoe) have a male coach at their clubs.

          • #1Fan

            But Gulati and the USSF are desperately afraid of the law. they want to be Equal on this issue. I dont agree, but Im telling you what I know to be true

    • Steglitz49

      Laura Harvey has not won the NWSL Championship. She was bested twice by Vlatko. To fail once is unfortunate; to fail twice seems like carelessness.

      Vlatko for USWNT head coach?!

      • AlexH

        No. Arsene Wenger. The woso community is way to incestuous. We need somebody with undeniable skill and a big enough ego (and buyout) to set the ship right. The buyout really is the key. So long as the feds can fire coaches for chump change politics will rule the day.

        • Steglitz49

          Lars Lagerbäck?

      • ken long

        losing to Vlatko wasnt a coaching shortfall. Harvey is excellent and would bring skill and courage to the team

  • nwslfan

    I forgot to add, I LIKE overlaps. Overlaps create, numbers and mismatches. I favor overlaps whenever feasible. When Aly Wagner ran out of nice things to say and started saying how the newly installed 3 back formation took away overlapping backs, I was like, yes! preach sister girl!

  • guest

    I love watching the Horan/Lavelle interactions. I think Horan is kind of an enigma in terms of what her role is on this team, or if she should have a role at all, but those two play some pretty ball

    • annie

      They should both go to France and skype with Dawn Scott for fitness videos.

    • Kevin

      I thought Lavelle had some good chemistry with both Horan and Pugh. Pugh didn’t have a memorable tournament, but the best she looked was when she was paired with Lavelle.

      • Frode

        I love how people talk about chemistry like it’s some mysterious and elusive process of chancing upon the right combination of players and — poof! — magic happens. “Chemistry” happens when you recruit technically competent, tactically aware players and deploy them with formations and tactics that utilize their strengths. There is no magic involved.

        • #1Fan

          Fact.

        • guest

          Well… Lavelle/Horan/Mewis have all played together on U-teams

        • Kevin

          If you read into my “chemistry” comment that is was by chance or magic, then you read something into it that I never implied.

        • Guest

          Well also there is a factor of selfishness. Women have cliques and preferences that can translate on the field as poor chemistry. Biggest chemistry killer is llyod from that video. She is constantly telling the other players to get her the ball. Unfortunately good things don’t generally follow. Maybe if I were her teammates I would feed her the ball and let her dig her own hole against decent teams. Scoring a hatter GK against athe upcoming games against Russia will mean what exactly.

    • ABCDE

      Horan Press
      Lavelle

      as the front 3. Try it, Jill

      • Steglitz49

        Horan Morgan Lavelle? Horan Leroux Lavelle?

    • Cc W

      If Carli wasn’t playing and you had Mewis and Horan I wonder if that could be a good combo. Mewis played well all 3 games and Horan had some good touches and ideas.

  • HOFCToDi

    It’s high time the USSF lockout the USWNTPA.

    It’s either pay to play or hit the road.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rEsVp5tiDQ

  • FlyingSquirrel42

    Seems like an opportune time to revive this joke: Joe Biden for USWNT Coach!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYl_gutR40A&feature=youtu.be

  • Marnipreed

    Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !dk292c:
    On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it
    !dk292c:
    ➽➽
    ➽➽;➽➽ http://GoogleFinancialCashJobs582ShopStreetGetPaid$97/Hour ★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫★★★✫::::::!dk292c:….,……..

  • Gary Diver

    Lloyd and Brian

    There is absolutely no way WC19 is going to end well for USWNT if Lloyd is CAM and Morgan Brian is playing unmotivated and a shadow of her old self. We can disagree on how to fix this problem, but unless the dysfunctional MF is fixed, the future of USWNT is not good.

    • #1Fan

      Dont ever forget that its single elimination. Anything can happen once you get to the KO stage and the US will certainly get there at a WC.

      Obviously the WC is the biggest event, but its still s a KO event – luck plays a huge part.

      • Gary Diver

        True, but USWNT plays on 2 major tournaments in every 4 year cycle. It is the job of the head coach to put the best team on the field that plays as a unit with a common purpose. That is not the case now with Ellis’ team. If she stays with Lloyd and cannot rejuvenate Bran, you want to rely on luck to carry USWNT forward? Creating the best team possible is a better way to go. Germany, France, England, and Canada are put their best team on the field, why can’t USWNT?

        • Steglitz49

          Spain just beat Canada.

          • Gary Diver

            John Herdman wants to bring a young team to WC19 that is lean, mean, and seasoned.

            The average age of Herdman’s starting XI for Algarve Cup Final was under 22 years old. He brought 7 teenagers to Algarve. You don’t know their names now, but you will by WC19.

            Canada got behind Spain early in the match and Herdman made a number of changes during the game to try and get the equalizer. It didn’t work out, but Canada did not embarrass themselves as USWNT did.

            Algarve Cup was a positive learning experience for the young team. SBC was not a positive learning experience for USWNT.

          • Steglitz49

            Spain still beat Canada. Make of that what you will.

        • #1Fan

          im not saying that. Im saying they could get all the things you want done, and still get bounced in a single elimination game. the same way they could get many things “wrong” in 2015 and win the whole thing. Single elimination is a a bad way to judge progress. I believe that we need to see progress in many areas (which we are not seeing)

          My key areas of focus would be

          1, Tactical flexibility. makes no sense to lock yourself in to a 3 back system . Call up High IQ players and use them in whatever system exploits the opponent best. Instead of building rosters with clear 1-2-3 versions of the same player, add some variety. For example, where is the target fwd in this squad?

          2. Midfield composition

          3. Attacking plan

          4. Removal of the dead wood

          Its fine to have a base formation, but we need to be able to be flkexible

        • Bruce

          I don’t think you can put your eggs in the basket of a “rejuvenated” Morgan Brian. She needs to bring the noise herself – particularly when she’s playing an 8 or DM role.

          IMHO, a lot of this has to do with the obsession on fielding as many technical players as possible, which has marginalized blue-collar midfielders whose primary skill is to contest, recover and possess. This started before WC15, and has never been addressed, even in camp call-ups.

          At some point you need to bring in players who can actually play the roles where deficiencies are most evident. It’s all about the CM.

      • Steglitz49

        Ignorant and incompetent refs and FIFA machination play a bigger part than luck, at least in the ladies WC.

        FIFA does not seem to care about the OG probably because the IOC over-rules them, as in the case of North-Korea in 2012.

  • Gary Diver

    It Is Not About 2019

    Even in the age of alternative facts, Jill Ellis and Carli Lloyd saying that everything now is “about 2019” is over the top.

    NO! It is all about 2015 and their attempt to validate what happened in WC15.

    People need to stop repeating the “it’s all about 2019” mantra. USWNT is playing crappy, uninspired soccer without leadership and purpose that the players have bought into. The team itself looks lost with no motivation or direction – just a team of talents individuals trying to survive. Just like an individual, a team that is lost will lose.

    • Steglitz49

      It is ALL — A L L — about 2019. What else is there for the US or Canada?

  • guest

    US will suffer from its tenure system. We are still playing past their prime contracted players like Krieger, Brunn, Harris and Lloyd who are, tbh, going to be kind of over the hill by 2019. The lack of youth development is interesting. You could probably put players like Morgan (accumulated injuries) and KO in that category as well.

  • Gary Diver

    What Did We Learn From SBC?

    We learned that USWNT is playing crappy, uninspired soccer without leadership or a purpose that the players have bought into and believe in. We learned that Jill Ellis is incompetent and cannot or will not right a wobbling ship.

    There is nothing wrong with making mistakes or having a failure if you learn from your mistakes and failures. Jill Ellis appears incapable of learning from her mistakes.

    Consider WC15

    1. Going into WC15, it was the general consensus among pundits that USWNT had the best corps of strikers and that Wambach, Morgan, Leroux, and Press were going to pile up goals. That did not happen.

    2. After a couple of WC matches, it became apparent to many people that the MF was a major problem and the core of that problem was the Carli Lloyd-Lauren Holiday combo who played as a unit and left holes all over the field. People used tracking software to track Lloyd and Holiday and it was obvious that neither wanted to play any defense. So what changes did Ellis make? None.

    3. It was USWNT’s defense that kept USWNT alive in WC15. They nearly broke the WC record for duration of not giving up a goal and as Klingenberg said: “If you don’t give up any goals, you can’t lose.”

    4. The China suspensions forced Ellis to split Lloyd and Holiday and to find somebody else for the midfield. There is no indicates she was thinking about making a MF change before she was forced to do it.

    Consider the Present

    1. Ellis is committed to playing Lloyd ever game all the time so that is her starting point. Lloyd in the MF all the time has made the MF dysfunctional.

    2. Ellis’ attempt to fix the Lloyd-anchored MF problem has not worked, so she decided to go to a 3 back formation that adds one more in the MF. That hasn’t worked, so now we have both a dysfunctional MF and a dysfunctional back line.

    3. The dysfunctional MF and a dysfunctional back line has produced a unproductive front line.

    4. Bottom line: Ellis’ attempt to keep Lloyd on the field has created a problem with her MF and her attempt to fix the MF problem has created a problem with her back line and those problems has created a problem with her front line.

    USWNT is a royal mess right now and you cannot fix this mess by trying to simultaneously fixing the MF, the back line, and the front line problems, while keeping Lloyd on the field. That is like trying to square the circle – it is not going to happen.

    If Ellis is unable and/or unwilling to bench Lloyd, somebody else needs to be brought in who will do the obvious. Pretending that a 36/37-year old Carli Lloyd is the key and anchor for WC19 is simply an alternative reality that needs to be correct now or WC19 will be a disaster for USWNT.

    • #1Fan

      What are Lloyds strengths ?

      • rkmid71

        PKs, Heading, Being a target on set pieces (not taking them), Kind of an enforcer or willingness to get physical/nasty (sometimes useful depending on opponent), Crashing the goal. Intangible willingness to do whatever it takes to score. And she’s scored some big goals in important games in the past. I was going to say to win — but she doesn’t care about defense so much and you have to play defense to win.

        But no acceleration, poor relative ball skills, not great awareness. Aren’t those the 3 main requirements of a top player?

        I would use her off the bench, assuming she wouldn’t be a destructive force and complain and would actually support her teammates on the field. And when she goes in, put her at forward position where it’s not affecting the rest of the team so much. Like with Wambach, I hope she comes to realize this is now her best use (at this stage in her career) to give the team the best chance to win against top competition. I don’t think JE will decide for her.

      • DNG

        For the US or their opponents?

      • AlexH

        She scores big goals when nobody else does. That about sums it up. It’s a very useful tool to have in your box but not one to center you tea around.
        The real issue goes beyond Lloyd though. There should be other younger players that should be stepping up to supplant Lloyd and make it obvious that her time has passed. The same could be said about Abby a few years ago. We either have a pipeline problem, an integration problem, or both. I don’t have the answer but it is clear that those in charge don’t either and they should be replaced.

        • DNG

          How can players make it obvious they they are better than Lloyd when she starts and plays 90(or 80) minutes in every match?

          • AlexH

            Its a common dilemma that all players have. They need to find a way to make things happen in the short time they have. I would argue that Sam Mewis and Rose Levelle (despite being played out of position) showed enough to demonstrate that Carli is replicable. I am optimistic because unlike the Abby situation where nobody stepped up Jill has options and time. I would even be more optimistic if somebody else had the options and the time.

          • #1Fan

            Once the US committed to playing target forward, it was always going to be hard for other to step up. Most Club teams do not play that way.

          • DNG

            I have no problems with a target forward assuming they have other skill that make them good soccer players or are so dominant that no defender can’t stop them from scoring.

          • mockmook

            S.Jordan

          • DNG

            Would love to see Savannah Jordan get a shot.

          • rkmid71

            And even then “better” is in the eye of the beholder. The way I look at is results and performance. Since WC 2015, has she stepped up? She played very poorly in the NWSL in 2015, in 2016 barely played in the NWSL pre OG and very little after, the team had its worst showing ever in the OG2016 and she and the team didn’t deliver when it counted against Sweden, she scored very little against top 10 teams in 2016 and now in SBC2017 played very poorly and the team scored 1 goal in 3 games, was smoked by France (among the top 5 defeats all time) and finished dead last. How much more performance do we need to see before not starting Lloyd every game or look seriously at other options? And said player is nearly 35 yrs old and will be 37 at the next WC. Of course, none of that failure relates to her, it’s all on her teammates.

          • mockmook

            And, I think there are some other tremendous mids in this year’s NWSL rookie class — plus more in the NCAA pipeline.

        • #1Fan

          I would say

          +

          Grit./ Determination/ Focus
          Powerful shot
          Experience and no fear of big moments

          Poor first touch
          Inconsistent finisher/ Violume shooter
          Positionally ill disciplined
          Poor passer
          Self centred

          • Gary Diver

            Is it self-centered or is it a chip-on-her-shoulder? She craves attention, recognition, and praise which does not come from the pundits who have watched her play. She needs and wanted to be beloved and that is not going to happen.

            Lloyd is also a non-existent defender.

          • DNG

            Not that it isn’t a plus but I don’t think grit, determination, focus, and hard work are things that differentiate her from her teammates or a lot of other NT hopefuls. Not saying it isn’t important just that pretty much everyone who is there or who wants to be there has it.

          • #1Fan

            Mate… I was reaching. Hard time coming up with pluses.

          • AlexH

            I don’t mind self centered if they can back it up. Winning broso teams have plenty of that type of player.

          • Gary Diver

            Being self-centerd is not consistent with being a team leader. Either you come first or the team comes first.

          • #1Fan

            Do they?

          • Steglitz49

            He is describing the swedish WNT, is he not?

        • Steglitz49

          Hear hear! Carli has repeatedly delivered the goods.

          It is up to the USWNT to persuade Carli to step back. This they have not done. Useless bunch of losers.

      • Gary Diver

        I can’t answer your question, but would like to add that for some Lloyd has the ability to cause the players around her to under- perform. With Lloyd on the field, the whole is usually less than the sum of its pieces. I started following USWNT seriously during WC15 and in September 2015 I traveled to Chicago to watch the Red Stars play the Houston Dash. Lloyd’s perform was nothing to write home about. When I looked into it I was surprised to find out that Lloyd was not on the NWSL best XI and not on the NWSL second-best XI. And let’s be honest, Lloyd is probably not on the NWSL fifth-best XI.

        Why does Lloyd appear to make the players around her under-achieve. You know much more about WoSo than I do, maybe you know the answer to this question.

        • Steglitz49

          The answer is Zlatan. Failing him, Kalla.

      • Gary Diver

        There are different ways of viewing this situation, but it looks like Ellis is committed to build her WC19 team around a 36/37-year old player. No matter what we see in Lloyd’s past, building USWNT for WC19 around Lloyd is going to be a disaster. Even Michael Jordan got to the point when he simply couldn’t do it anymore. The idea that Carli Lloyd can beat Father Time is simple alternate reality.

        • Steglitz49

          POTY 2nd year running. Hard to stop. Lot’s of endorsements to claim.

          Get lost!

          • CED

            You’re being as asinine as Lorehead if you think Lloyd is not a disaster now and will get worse over the next 2 years.

          • Steglitz49

            I believe in the wishing-well of time, as Satchmo sang.

          • CED

            OMG..Zlatan plays in a 4rd rate league after playing in a 5th rate league. He failed in an actual top league ..La Liga b/c he wasn’t good enough. He failed at the international level b/c he’s not good enough. He was non existent in Euro 2016 and couldn’t get Sweden out of Wcup quals more times than not.

          • #1Fan

            Bit harsh, but not far wrong. Fort all his so called current greatness, his team is in what 5th place?

          • Steglitz49

            Remember the Glorious 12th!

            Bombing in Brasilia — to such depths the USWNT has sunk. Ever one WC-19.

          • CED

            Again, for the 2nd time in a week you do realize how pathetic and inferior you think your country is to call a draw a miracle. Pk’s is a coin toss of largely luck.

          • Gary Diver

            Did you actually watch the FIFA Awards? Marta looked like she was about to cry when Lloyd’s name was announced.

          • Steglitz49

            That is understandable because Marta is the very Greatest.

            There is soccer BM, AM and PM.

            We will never see her like. Marta joins those luminaries who missed out but are revered in soccer throughout the ages, ever one ball, pitches without end.

      • Gary Diver

        As I stated elsewhere here: “Isn’t it true that the Dash started playing better last year when Kealia Ohai was appointed team captain?” Food for thought.

      • Steglitz49

        2008, 2012 and 2015.

    • Steglitz49

      Please, remember, that the church has never taught ….

  • #1Fan
    • DNG

      The Pugh part I found particularly good. That shot wasn’t close to being threatening. Tobin’s similar play earlier in the match was a better chance. Oh well. US Soccer must control the narrative. Nothing critical about the team on their website.

      • #1Fan

        the comments section is the best

        • DNG

          To be fair there are a lot of comments here that are not so great. EQ still has HOFCToDi who takes pride in spamming every single Press related article or pro-Press comment.

          • #1Fan

            Blocked by me so I dont see it anymore. I dont even mind the spamming. I just dont like the hateful and spiteful remarks about other posters

        • DNG

          I got a good chuckle reading 3-5-3 though. It reminded me of Abby on TV at the Euros and the 4-2-2

    • Gary Diver

      “Budweiser Woman of the Match: Casey Short”

      Is this a misprint? Is it an early April Fool’s Day joke? Does anybody agree with this?

      • Steglitz49

        They tell me taht Zlatan may be moving to LA Galaxy for an undisclosed sum.

        Since Miyama and Marta played in LA, there is a chance to see one of the immortals.

        Go for it, Glalaxy! I say. Because Zlatan is the real McCoy.

        • AlexH

          While they are at it the Galaxy should also sign Oguchi Onyewu

          • #1Fan

            he sigend in MLS already

        • CED

          LOL..Zlatan now moving to an even worse league than the 2 he played in before.

          • Steglitz49

            The great man has played in many and various matches. Take your pick.

          • CED

            You mean he been the loser of matches ie…C-league, Wcup etc… He has won noting of any significance.

        • Gary Diver

          Must give you credit. Last year you called Zlatan going to MLS. Too bad he isn’t several years younger.

          • #1Fan

            Not hard to predict an ageing over the hill but name brand going to MLS eventaully is it?

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you.

            Age shall not weary him etc

    • Steglitz49

      Who played in #7 for the US? She was worthy of a picture, so she must have been someone. fees up!

  • #1Fan

    Marta back in NWSL – Orlando

    • Bruce

      How can they afford her? New compensation rules must be in the mix.

      • Steglitz49

        Malmö sold her south, maybe?

        • Bruce

          Erling Nilsson says her contract buyout would cost “a lot”. Not sure how an NWSL team does that with a meager salary cap.

          http://www.sydsvenskan.se/2017-03-09/uppgifter-amerikanskt-ligalag-ar-overens-med-brasilianska-varldsstjarnan

          • Reality

            Rosengård starts a break after 6/29/17 and doesn’t begin again until 8/19/17. So something might be worked out for at least a 2 month period.

          • Bruce

            Orlando’s season will be over by 6/29 if Marta doesn’t play sooner.

          • Reality

            All too true. But they could have a bravura 2 months in attendance if both Morgan and Marta play.

          • Steglitz49

            An interesting link is that Orlando Pride are owned by Brazilian financier Flávio Augusto da Silva. He also owns the men’s team in town that is closely associated with the women’s team. He recruited Kaka to Orlando City Soccer Club a few years.

    • DNG

      still waiting to hear more on this but it would be great to see her in the states again.

      • Bruce

        Doesn’t seem to be confirmed yet. All reports point back to WoSo Weekly, and they are clear that the club hasn’t made a statement.

        • Som Termanni

          How many players have been rumored to Orlando this offseason? Didn’t Sermanni publicly hound Foord for months just to lose her to Japan?

          They score one high-profile player in Krieger this year and everyone forgets the Morgan trade and assumes they’ve figured out how to draw stars. Nothing’s changed. If they get Marta, it’s because Marta wants to go there, not because Orlando does anything right.

          • Som Termanni

            And also, if they get Marta, that trade for Rachel Hill looks even stupider.

    • Reality

      We’ll see. Not officially confirmed yet and Rosengard says different…

      “Marta has a contract with us over 2017 and I have just spoken to her and she plays with us, says Rosengårds Erling Nilsson.”

      http://www.sydsvenskan.se/2017-03-09/uppgifter-amerikanskt-ligalag-ar-overens-med-brasilianska-varldsstjarnan

    • Bruce

      The plot thickens. Can’t see how ORL could pay for a contact buyout (or let a sponsor pay) without breaking cap rules, though.

      https://twitter.com/Michellestile/status/839937162011361284

      • mockmook

        I don’t think there is a rule on how much you can spend on a contract buyout.

        • Bruce

          That would open so many doors to back door compensation.

    • htm222

      Word on the street is that Marta has some nice corporate backers and individual investors… so maybe she doesn’t need NWSL peanut money. Still makes no sense why she would leave her girlfriend and home in Sweden… but maybe she wants a more competitive or physical setting

      • guest123

        Coca-Cola & Puma are supplementing her Rosengard salary. I don’t think that she’ll leave Rosengard unless this agreement is continuing if she does plan to play for Orlando.

        The real question is how much will Orlando pay to get Rosengard to terminate her contract if they want her to play in the beginning of the NWSL season.

        • Bruce

          Under the current salary cap rules, there is *no way* Orlando can afford a buyout of any size. This only gets done if one or more of the following happens:

          1) The salary cap is raised to over $400k
          2) The league implements a luxury tax
          3) The NWSL implements an MLS-like designated player rule.

          We are only 30 days from season start.

          • mockmook

            What is the rule for buyouts? I don’t remember there being one.

          • Bruce

            There isn’t one, but if transfer fees aren’t considered then a team could easily break the cap by paying another club to cover severance or other back-door compensation.

          • mockmook

            The NWSL has thrived on “back-door” deals.

          • Bruce

            I think you and I have different definitions of the word “thrived”.

          • Carter G

            The NWSL is very flexible when it comes about complying with their rules. Ask the Thorns

  • NYRick

    A final analogy on this. And literary fans, it’s a good one.

    Ellis is Ahab. Lloyd is Moby Dick. Folks, Capt. Ahab is going down. Pinned to the bow of the ship and wrapped in harpoon twine.

    • AlexH

      Does anybody know what Moby means?

      • NYRick

        Can I cheat and just say the nickname of the washed up vegan preaching electronica musician?

  • #1Fan
  • Bruce

    This twitter exchange about “grade inflation” when talking about Lloyd’s game on Saturday pretty much says it all…

    https://www.womenssoccerweekly.com/latest-uswnt-player-grades

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/757bc8026d041d08b4d98cf49a3195e2408b5f0a8102fb8652c7936f08f887c8.png

    • #1Fan

      Winning team graded out worse.

      This is the problem here. No one is willing to say the emperor has no clothes.

      • Bruce

        No player left behind…

        • #1Fan

          hahahah good one. Until people are willing to actually analyze properly, this bubble will continue

          • Bruce

            The article actually has a disclaimer that grading starts at “B” and moves from there. Funny. Not funny.

          • Reality

            Actually it says…

            “NOTE: All players start with a letter “B” and then the grade is adjusted based on performance.”

            Only one player went down from a B which was Lynn Williams who received a B-. That means everyone basically had a good game? Huh? What kind of grading curve is that?

        • Reality

          “Carli Lloyd: The two-time FIFA World Player of the Year had another quiet night. It was not that Lloyd played poorly, she just seems to be trying to find her place in the new look U.S. formation. Grade: B”

          The subtle irony here is quite amusing.

  • #1Fan

    http://www.socceramerica.com

    The Smith legend now begins.

    • Bruce
      • #1Fan

        Yep. Apparently not good enough to get serious minute for BJ Snow. Very much a solo act currently.

        • LM

          I guess Smith should have started all the U17 WWC games then the US would have won handily!

          • Serena

            With her we would have won the Olympics last year handily

    • Gary Diver

      sDo you know anything about Sophia Smith? (Today EQ misprinted her name as Sophia Schmidt:) How tall is she? What year in school? Any reputation?

      As far as comparing her to anybody, she is a forward with Pugh, Sanchez, and Pinto are not. There doesn’t seem to be too many good forwards coming out of USWNT youth.

      • mockmook
      • #1Fan

        My opinion based on seeing her play at least 10x

        + Good speed, tricky dribbler, decent technical finishing skills ( shot selection, shot power)

        – Unwilling passer , overly selfish,

        She has talent in certain areas, but Im not convinced for a few reasons. Quality of competition and attitude. Both may well change as she matures. I dont think stories of scoring 7 goals vs a team by HT and wanting to keep scoring are positive.

        not tall and yet another in a similar mould. i dont think I would want Sanchez, Pugh and Smith on the field at the same time . I think the reason she was an impact Sub for the U-17s is for the reasons above. Does not combine with other players, but may get you a goal vs tired teams.

        I think there are more forwards than you know about. The issue is that the USSF seem to pick predominantly the same type of player and you only hear about the ones who score.in Intl games.

        • Grace A

          Not sure “overly selfish” works if looking at the club team. Nobody to combine with on that team. She led the 17s for assists in Jordan, even being a sub. Agree too soon to anoint as the next superstar, but believe she has a better foundation than many of the recently anointed…we shall see i guess.

          • #1Fan

            very interesting on many levels

            1. Her team contains at least 6 players who have YNT experience, some extensive

            2. Jordan we scored 1g v Ghana and 2vs Japan – both unassisted. So if we exclude assists vs Paraguay whats left?

            3. Very interested in who you see as the recently anointed and why she has a better foundation.

          • Grace A

            1. 6 players? Who? An outside back and a center back, don’t know of any others. So, not much combining opportunity with other forwards and/or attacking mids. Maybe I’m missing something but no YNT talent there.

            2. Poor offensive effort by the 17s no doubt, and not trying to say she would have made the difference for US to advance. BUT, when on the field with talent around her she’s looking to combine. Had assists with U18s and U20s too, I believe.

            3. Pinto. Sanchez. Maybe even Pugh.

          • #1Fan

            1. You are. Howell,Holmes,Yates,Hiatt, Schlegel,Hansen. Yates and Schlegel are forwards. To say she is not surrounded by talent is inaccurate.

            2. Lets agree to disagree. I dont see how you can draw any conclusion from Jordan

            3. You did not answer the part about why/what you think she has that the others dont.

          • Grace A

            1. Not saying they aren’t a good team. I’ve only seen them at national events, so you may know them better. I thought Howell played the #6, and pretty defensive, plus not on that team anymore with the birth year grouping. Isn’t Holmes an outside back? Yates is new I believe, and just joined the team this season. I’ve only seen Hiatt at center back, and if I remember correctly I thought Schelgel went out with a knee injury right after joining the team. Hansen is their keeper, right? So where’s the talent up top or at the #8 or #10 she has worked with over the last few years? I agree going forward Yates/Smith will be very dangerous and we shall see if they combine.

            2. Okay, fairly weak point anyway, as I don’t think US teams combine much regardless. She had assists in qualifying, and I believe on the recent U18 and U20 trips. I just reacted to the “overly selfish” tag.

            3. Pinto runs a 40 or something in the beep test, and haven’t seen much else to justify being elevated. Sanchez may have better feet, but soccer IQ is lacking – watch the Japan game and her PK – more interested in the celebratory photo opp than grabbing the ball and getting back to the center circle. Pugh, is a gifted athlete, no doubt, and a dangerous slashing player. First touch? Left foot? Handle pressure? Combine with others? Not so much.

            In general, I think US Soccer’s obsession with elevating the next best thing is crazy. Let them develop at their own age. What’s the rush? Plenty of age appropriate talent that gets overlooked.

          • #1Fan

            I do think you are undervaluing the players she plays and has played with. Its not like you are playing vs top talent week in week out in the ECNL. I would be surprised if less than 80 pct of her teammates are not going to Dv1 schools to play. Howell not a 6 in club, more like 8.

            I think we probably agree on a lot more than not. Overly may have been too strong a choice of word by me. I agree that the rush to show everyone how great we are at development leaves a lot of age appropriate players out. The new thing gets all the attention. We are terrible at realizing that there are many kids out there who we overlooked once, who are still working and getting better. Just as there are many we anointed who have plateaued.

            You analysis of the players you named is, in my opinion, very accurate.

          • LM

            Hiatt is a center back

    • Guest

      OT but somewhat relevant to youth development. I recently listened to a Heath interview where she talked about soccer being a white privileged sport in america. Is this what you see as well? An inaccessible sport? She also talks a bit about how training is almost too organized and youth players not really just going out an playing for fun. She thinks the over organization stifles creativity and said she was lucky to have youth coaches who let her be her.

      • #1Fan

        I tend to agree. Go look at the team pics for your YNTs.

        • Guest

          The recent youth team pics appear to support the statement. I wonder what it will take to change the culture which is the other thing she said she was interested in doing when she is done playing.

  • football-women.com

    Off topic. But support needed
    recent comment menu isnt working for me.
    doesnt send to the specified comment.
    special browsers only?
    comments “sort by newest” doesnt either – only for level 1 comments.
    And “sort by best” should read “sort by most upvotes”?

    • Bruce

      I think that’s just how things work with Discuss. Best = upvotes, and sorting is limited to level 1 AFAIK.

      I can jump to recent comments from the menu or from email notifications only when threads have a few posts. When there are hundreds (like for this article), it seldom works.

      • Bruce

        Also, level 1 comments awaiting moderation (while rare) seem to show up as “newest”.

      • football-women.com

        thx for clarifying. Helps at least to avoid more time wasteing

  • james

    The USA loss to France need to be a wake up call to USA WOMEN TEAM, the France team player the game the correct way with great passing, great speed, and soled defense coverage when USA had the ball. The main problem I believe with USA team is not formation (3-4-1-2, 4-4-2) is are back line may have good soccer player but speed defender we do not have (only one Casey Short was able to stay up with France forwards) we did not cover there forward or midfielder tight or man mark them correctly, we were to predicable in pass, are collection was bad (ball would be pass it bounce two feet from person who was receiving the pass), also are pass were poor (weak pass) and are not long pass were not on target to other who should have been making runs . Also, we should look at who should not be playing in this game vs. this type team, I think the world of Carli Lloyd she hard working, has strong leg, but she has bad foot skills, make to many bad pass, had ball taking way to easily and is slow in speed (I love her as person she the best on team) but not when we play France team with speed and great foot skills (which is mostly comprise of players from France D1 team Lyon). In all three games we were disorientated and not playing the type of soccer that was shown us by France team play, also they were better as team play together. USA has the most talent player but we need fast defender to stop these counters attack, that now all other national team will know what as are weakness is and will run us to death. When USA team under press they can’t think, pass ball well, and last of all we need to find fastest players who faster the any forward and make them defender to stop the any counter attack.

    • Jimmy

      USA has the most talent players – why do you think so? Most followers on Instagram or most hype on EQ?

  • Gary Diver

    “Trump Travel Ban Could Prevent United States Hosting World Cup”

    https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/mar/09/donald-trump-travel-ban-could-prevent-united-states-hosting-football-world-cup

    There has been several similar articles recently in the media. Trump’s policy could give 2026 World Cup to Canada.

  • Gary Diver

    Who is Jordyn Huitema? And what does her appearance mean?

    “Fifteen-year-old Phenom Being Compared to Sinclair? (original article title)

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/soccer/high-hopes-for-rising-soccer-star-jordyn-huitema-after-canadian-senior-debut/article34262359/

    Exactly two years ago, the Canadian press reported

    “Jessie Fleming: The Next Christine Sinclair?”

    http://www.cbc.ca/sports/soccer/jessie-fleming-the-next-christine-sinclair-1.2982275

    These articles lead to a numerous questions.

    1. Is this pure hype or BS or is there some substance here?

    Even before the 2015 article about Jessie Fleming, John Herdman said that one of his jobs was to find the next Christine Sinclairs. Originally I thought it was a stupid comment. How does one “find” superstars as though it is an Easter egg hunt?

    2. Has Jessie Fleming so far lived up to the Herdman/media hype? Herdman has recently said that Fleming is too good for NCAA soccer and should look at other options to challenge and develop her talents.

    3. Herdman had 7 teenagers on his Algarve roster. He didn’t have to bring teenagers – he could have let them develop in their youth divisions. Most likely he sees some of these girls being likely candidates for his WC19 roster. Where does he find these players? Are these players that good to play senior international soccer?

    4. The average age of Canada’s Algarve starting XI was under 22 years old. How many players of the USWNT roster are under 22-years old?

    5. Getting back to Huitema: she’s is 15 years old, already 5′ 10″ tall, and one of the fastest players on the team. Is she a budding superstar?

    6. Canada used the U20 WC16 as an opportunity to give young players tournament experience and did not make any serious effort to do well in the tournament. Their roster contained 2 16-year olds, 6 17-year olds, and 4 18-year olds. Canada’s strategy is to identity star players early and promote them exclusively. Now isn’t this similar to what USWNT star system does? Does Canada do a better job of it than USWNT?

    7. USWNT is at a crossroads and the different directions that they and Herdman’s team are going highlights this crossroads. Herdman is attempting to build one of the youngest teams for WC19, but a team that has cohesion and plays with a common purpose where every players serves a purpose on the field. What is Jill Ellis attempting to do? It seems to create a team that can support Carli Lloyd being on the field.

    Heads-up: It is not out of the question that Canada will outperform USWNT at WC19. IF that happens, many heads should rolls, including Gulati (who should be concerned now).

  • #1Fan
    • Gary Diver

      Is this pure star-system hype/BS or is there any merit to it? Is the 5′ 10″ 15-year old Canadian speedster Jordyn Huitema the “next great thing”?

  • Gary Diver

    Press and Ellis

    As much as Jill Ellis is connected with Carli Lloyd, she is also connected with Christen Press. It is obvious that Press is under-achieving on the USWNT teams and part of the problem is Ellis.

    WC15 was suppose to be Press’ coming out as a superstar. But one bad performance put her in Ellis’ doghouse and she ended up playing a minor role in WC15. Then there were reports that Press was mentally down on herself and had some talks with Ellis, who encouraged her to make some changes in her game. Again OG16 was suppose to be Press’ chance to be a USWNT superstar. In OG16, nobody on USWNT was a star, but Ellis’ decisions during the PK shootout may have seared Press’ psyche forever. Shootout 101 says you put your best PK shooter either 1st or 5th. Since Morgan went first, we can be sure Ellis wanted Lloyd to shoot last, which makes sense. When Morgan’s shot was easily blocked, Ellis could not afford a second “miss” so she moved Lloyd ahead of Press, which put huge pressure on Press’ shoulder, producing Press’ embarrassing moonshot.

    Knowing your coach does not have confidence in you is a confidence destroyer. All of Press’ fans are waiting for her day of glory, but unless Ellis can convince Press that she has confidence in her as a star that the team can depend on, I don’t see Press ever having her day of glory. Look at how Ellis has played Press in the past year, which seems to say that Ellis doesn’t even value Press’ past contributions. Lloyd may loom large in Ellis’ future plans, but Press probably does not.

    • Reality

      Both you and I have mentioned the deleterious effects that a coach’s decisions and attitudes towards players can create in terms of their morale, self-confidence and performance. In a cumulative way, this can also apply to the whole team. I think that Ellis has created a negative atmosphere within the NT that will not be easily dispelled. While the WC2015 victory has carried both her and Lloyd for a while, I think it has reached a point of diminishing returns when one takes into account the OG2016 and SBC debacles. How that can be remedied without curtailing or removing the two of them is unclear to me. This has to be Gulati’s responsibility and I confess that I don’t have much confidence that he will take any action.

      • Gary Diver

        I agree completely with your assessment. Ellis’ lack of leadership and capricious decisions have had a corrosive effect on USWNT and is slowly destroying the morale, trust, and cohesiveness of the team. I cannot believe most USWNT players really believe in Ellis and whether or not they verbalize it, this lack of confidence is going to create a lack of confidence in themselves. Contrary to what some people here believe, bad coaches can destroy great teams.

        • Reality

          Coaches can certainly demoralize and undermine the effectiveness of great teams especially if the players decide to move elsewhere as is the case in the professional leagues. With the national teams, it is more complex since they have no place to go except out the door and leaving all the cash and connections behind. However, if a new coach is brought in, there is the possibility of the restoration of winning ways. The question becomes how rapidly the situation is acknowledged as being of crises proportions. Something tells me that this is going to drag on for a while.

          • Gary Diver

            Here is the situation as I see it. USWNT currently has Carli Lloyd, a dysfunctional MF, a dysfunctional back line, an ineffective front line, and questionable GKs. That is simply a total mess. During WC15, Jill Ellis had a dysfunctional MF, an ineffective front line, and a great defense that did not give up a single goal for most of the tournament. This represents a major regression since WC15 and somebody above Ellis needs to recognize it before it is too late for WC19.

          • Reality

            Defense was the most significant factor in our victory in WC2015. Ellis’s over reaction to the OG2016 loss by messing with the back line in a 3-5-2 has created an additional problem to the ones you describe. In theory, there is ample time to make the necessary adjustments to optimize the NT for WC2019, but not really since we have to take care of fundamental problems (Ellis and Lloyd) before any fine tuning can be done.

          • DNG

            Team defense not just the back line. Back line got exposed against against Australia’s speed and Nigeria’s

          • Reality

            The defense did improve overall when Lloyd was removed from the midfield.

          • Gary Diver

            Lloyd on the field is a major handicap to the team’s defense.

          • Gary Diver

            Exactly! Ellis wants to attempt to deal with the secondary problems while ignoring the fundamental problems: Lloyd and the dysfunctional MF. Until the fundamental problems are dealt with the secondary problems will remain unfixed problems.

  • dw

    Posted by some guy named “dw” after 3-3 draw vs. JPN in OG16 runup:

    “And it’s not even hard to “figure out”. Long balls beat the press.
    Moving the ball up to Long and Pugh quickly beats the press. So what
    went wrong?
    1) The players don’t understand
    2) The players do understand but lack skills to overcome
    3) The coaches don’t understand
    4) The coaches do understand but want the players to “figure it out”.
    1-3
    I get as reasonable possibilities, but #4 is THE REASON YOU HAVE
    COACHES. What the hell is Cat saying? And IIRC, she’s a coach???”

    So you can see how far we have progressed in 9 months. We haven’t figured out that the direct ball foils a high press.

  • Gary Diver

    Will Trump’s Second Travel Ban Affect U.S. Bid for Olympics, FIFA?

    “Donald Trump’s second attempt at a travel ban could leave Canada and Mexico in the lurch when it comes to a possible joint bid for the FIFA 2026 World Cup. The three North American countries were in talks about hosting the soccer tournament together, officials said earlier this year.”

    http://globalnews.ca/news/3300241/will-trumps-second-travel-ban-affect-u-s-bid-for-olympics-fifa/

  • Gary Diver

    USWNT Loses Consecutive Back-to-Back Home Games for the First Time in 17 Years.

    Where were you and what were you doing 17 years ago?

    http://www.therecord.com/sports-story/7177966-us-women-lose-consecutive-home-games-for-1st-time-since-00/

  • ken long

    why was a 3 back experiment called for? 4 back wasnt broken and was the strength of the team; now all that is brought into question; If going with a 3 back experiment, why try to make Allie Long a CB when you have real CBs but lack MFs, which Allie Long is GOOD at? Why continually play people out of their positions? saw it with Holiday as a holding mid, Lavelle as a wing, and Long as a CB. Lloyd is a liability; slow and now a distraction