Streak’s snapped, but US must regroup in Algarve

Jeff Kassouf March 7, 2014 240

The U.S. women are in an unfamiliar position, but there are lessons to be learned from Friday's loss to Sweden. (Copyright Patricia Giobetti)

Two years ago to the day the streak began in Portugal, and it is in Portugal where it ends.

All good things must come to an end. If there were ever a good time to lose, it’s now. Lessons are learned in defeat.

Clichés abound for the U.S. women, but they are as applicable as ever after a 1-0 loss to Sweden in Algarve Cup group play.

With the defeat to their former coach, Pia Sundhage, the Americans saw their 43-game unbeaten streak snapped and came to the realization that, like two years ago when they last tasted defeat, they won’t be playing in the Algarve Cup final.

The play has been ugly, but the long-term takeaways could be useful for the U.S. women, who aren’t invincible after all.

Sweden put on one of the most suffocating defensive displays against the U.S. in recent memory, anchored by Nilla Fischer. Until the final minutes, when the U.S. pushed forward with more defensive disregard in search of an equalizer, the Americans lacked many significant goal-scoring opportunities. Most early chances — aside from the questionable penalty kick, earned by Amy Rodriguez and missed by Abby Wambach — in the first half came from pressing Sweden’s backs and goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl, who quickl sped up those actions to avoid getting caught on the ball.

But the Americans were uninspiring in the attack for the second straight match, this time with Rodriguez and Wambach up front instead of the Christen Press-Sydney Leroux pairing in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against Japan. That goal, the United States’ only of the tournament thus far, happened as a result of Leroux chasing down the goalkeeper and deflecting a clearance into the net. Sustained attacks whimpered in the final third that day, much like Friday.

They are missing the injured Alex Morgan, but Leroux, Press and Wambach are equally dangerous in their own rights — things just haven’t been clicking in Portugal.

Both matches saw a lack of cohesion from the Americans, particularly in the middle. Against Japan, that was the result of identifying the wings as an area to exploit. But on Friday against Sweden, the productivity from the flanks dissipated, and the central midfield pairing of Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian was largely bypassed for direct play, something to be expected with a Wambach-Rodriguez pairing up top.

What that left, however, was a largely invisible midfield for the United States that played straight into Sweden’s gameplan, constructed by ex-U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, who knows a thing or two about this American squad. Fischer ate up every long-ball that came her way, Caroline Seger took over the center of the park and Lindahl made the few big saves – including the penalty – that need to be made in big matches such as this.

They have come out flat two straight games against two of the better teams in the world. With just over a year before the World Cup, that should worry the United States women.

The Algarve Cup, however, is about learning. In some cases that means bringing a young squad to learn lessons in defeat, like Japan did in 2013. For Sermanni, the goal has been to find the right mix and figure out who seems ready for the 2015 World Cup. That meant – and still means for the last two games in Portugal – that giving players chances on the pitch is equally important to winning matches.

Streaks come and go, and it is better that they fall at a more inconsequential time like at the Algarve Cup, and not at the World Cup (or even in qualifying — 2010 hiccups are still fresh in the memory). This unbeaten run was historic, and the 80-game home unbeaten streak is still active and astounding. What’s needed now from the Americans is a convincing performance against Denmark on Monday and another strong showing in Wednesday’s placement game, which could be the first of three in a row against China, since two friendlies are already scheduled for April.

Friday brought the U.S. women a feeling with which they aren’t very familiar. In the end, that won’t be the worst thing to feel before the homestretch of World Cup preparations, but there is a great deal of pride on the line in Portugal. The U.S. women will want to at least make sure they are playing for third, and not fifth, which would be a shocking placing for the world’s No. 1 team.

  • MT

    Spell check and grammar check please, Mr. Kassouf.

    • jeffkassouf

      Hi there — if you have a specific point to make, rather than a sweeping generalization, please share.

      • Terry Lash

        Well said. We do not need this kind of irrelevant criticism by MT.

      • NotMT

        I am not MT, but here is one example:

        Original text: “That they have *came* out flat two straight games…” should be: “That they have come out flat…”

        “Have *come* out” is the (correct) present perfect tense. Or you could just use the simple past tense: “That they came out flat…”

        Not to nitpick, but your excellent content deserves to be matched by proper grammar :-)

        • Steglitz49

          What is your opinion on the use of slang in articles?

        • jeffkassouf

          Thanks for pointing out – the sentence is fixed. I’m well aware of the proper conjugation…sometimes things slip through when writing quickly. Not ideal, but happens everywhere. We’ll continue to try to prevent it.

          • Steglitz49

            Commentators on The Equalizer are also quick to point out all sorts of things, like the errors that Hope makes and how lucky Miyama can be. Sometimes I wish I could put them into a goal and have Aya pepper them with shots while Hope runs the video-camera. How many yards handicap should we give Miyama? Will 30 be enough to be a fair fight? Or, would 40 be needed?

  • Kelsey

    Uninspired by Wambach. Tom needs to navigate the talent at his disposal better, I think his lack of consistency is showing and he needs to figure it out. Alex Morgan is sorely missed. Uhh, just a mess.

    • New south

      Fisher n company would have handled her again. It’s bigger than one player

      • James

        Yet she still scored in the last match so I wouldn’t say handled. And yes Fisher and two other players marked Alex that game not just Fisher.

        • New south

          The point is, this vacation cup is about change and the youth movement. She did have a great 2013. One player isn’t fixing the problems they have

    • Silver Frost

      TS is simply full of it. He talks all the time about possession ball, and then starts Wambach for direct play. Result: zero points. Is TS ever going to get it? All the top teams know how to plan for Team USA when Wambach starts. It’s old.

  • nwslfan

    good article Jeff. Agree Pia would have special insight into how to beat the US team. I do think that there’s nothing like a stinging defeat to bring focus. Sweden came into the Algarve on the heels of an thrashing by France a few weeks ago. USA been patting itself on the back playing Russia. I think US keeps a fire in the belly for a while after this loss, which is great. The pattern of bypassing the center midfield has been going on for quite a while — go watch some segments of OL2012 matches again. Let’s hope TS will identify midfield playmakers and give them meaningful time on the field. We still have loads of time to make adjustments before WWC15. Klinsmann has not identified his WC14 starting XI either.

  • Guest

    Did Pia get to submit the US lineup? She must have took one look at Abby and Arod 2010 era combo and was grinning ear to ear. The only good news from this is that some players got exposed for half efforts and age and in every case there is a younger player waiting to be promoted. Time is running out to let those younger players mesh together. We’ll see if the experiment and second chances are over and a team can be formed from this.

  • wosofan

    I have trouble with this analysis insofar as it lumps the team’s performance against Japan alongside today’s performance. Jeff, honestly, you should re-visit your assessment of the match against Japan. Further, I see no mention in your entire piece of Megan Rapinoe. That’s a huge omission, since the offense often flows through her, and her performances in both matches were the most striking (in a bad way) that we’ve seen from her, perhaps ever. This is clearly a run of poor form for her, as she was wasteful against Canada, as well. Her body language is also troubling and immature. I don’t advocate removing her from the team or anything, I just think that when you say that the offense sputtered or died out in the final third, that’s not being fair to the team as a whole.

    • Steglitz49

      At least the goals in the Japan match were memorable.

      That freekick was to die for. Syd’s goal was a blast. Miyama, please come and play in the NWSL!

      • Silver Frost

        The Sweden goal was what Wambach & Co. used to do all the time to other teams.

        • Steglitz49

          But do we remember it? It was a pretty standard cookie-cutter goal, one in the pile of other goals. Not one for the scrap-book, surely.

          Aya Miyama — the female Alberto Carlos. Steal an extra bow!

          • PN.

            Roberto Carlos…

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. Much obliged. You knew which goal I meant– the one against France.

          • steglatz

            Why don’t you ask Miyama to marry you?

          • Steglitz49

            I simply wanted to create a counter-balance to comments about a certain American forward.

            Also the Swedish goal came about through not only pretty inept defending by two players not only through the Swedish wing pouncing on an error.

          • D23

            Because most people realise that relying on your defence to be perfect is an unrealistic way of winning matches. Because most people realise that the defence have been playing very well of late. Because most people who watched the match know that the US played poorly in the midfield and up front and did not look threatening until substitutes came on. Because most people realise that calling for players to be dropped for one mistake when have been otherwise playing well (in one case very well) is stupid and short-sighted in circumstances where other team members made multiple errors that resulted in a lack of scoring.

          • Steglitz49

            I put it to you that the US defense has not been challenged. It is awfully hard when you are such a good team as the US to have your defense tested with fire.

            The coach could field a weak forward line and attacking midfield to expose his defense, but in the context of the us, what is a weak attack? Even the #3 players are among the world’s best.

            Pia brought four young players into the NT. Alex and Syd, both attackers; Tobin, essentially attacking midfield; and Kelley, whom she converted to left back. It seems high time to review the defense.

          • EbaJ

            How would you review the defense. Ali and Becky are strong and starters. The rest have been up and down.

          • D23

            Look at the back four now compared to the last world cup. Aside from Krieger, who is playing great football, its almost entirely different and, in my opinion, much stronger than it has been in a long time. Sauerbrunn is getting much more game time, Engen (who didn’t even make the WC squad) is getting much more time. Rampone is getting significantly less. Buehler gets very little and the team is all the better for it. Pia converted O’Hara to the back line because she had to when Krieger did her ACL. She already had one outside back position filled with a converted CB. At least now we have genuine options at outside back. Conceding one goal in general play from two games against Japan and Sweden is, I think, an excellent effort. I really can’t understand after watching these matches why you think the defence is the issue. Even if that mistake against Sweden is not made that is still no wins for the US at this tournament.

          • Steglitz49

            I contend that the defense will be settled during this NWSL season. The NWSL is an even league and the defense of each team will be sorely tested. I expect the NT defenders to come from the teams that reach the playoffs.

            The goal by Japan is outside all categories. It was from a set piece 30 yds out. It was a glorious strike, admittedly by a player recognized as the best freekicker for the past 5 years if not more. Just like the Roberto Carlos goal, we will not see one like it again by the ladies. It is one for the ages.

            I would have loved to sit Tobin and Aya down by the pool-side with a liberal supply of free drinks and hear them compare notes on freekicks — and get Aya to sign for an NWSL team.

          • newsouth

            Kreiger had a clearance similar to the WC one against. With Rampone walking out the door, they aren’t that fast without Dunn. Sweden made Kling slow. Mewis isn’t a real fix. They have some holes. He is right. A forward like Sinclair would eat Sauer and Engen up.

  • Ben

    Sweden player of the match – Tom Sermanni
    Did the USSF hired TS to babysit the USWNT or to coach it?

  • Jenifer

    They are paying for a long list of friendlies against very weak opposition.

    • Steglitz49

      Indeed. But it is expensive to bring the top teams to the US and traveling to Europe and Asia is not cheap neither.

      • Guest

        And with the European teams having World Cup qualifying games it greatly reduces the amount of competitive teams available.

  • max

    it’s amazing that the player who is missed the most in a game like this wasn’t mentioned–it’s NOT Alex Morgan….it’s Lauren Holiday. Press and Leroux are planty dangerous in the attack. Of course Alex is missed but Holiday has become the dominant factor in that midfield and can control the ball and calm the situation. Her absence is huge

    • nwslfan

      Holiday shows for the ball and Pinoe bypasses… watch the film Holiday played great in NWSL, but she plays in a deliberate style, not a super high work rate style, like a Fishlock. Would love to see Holiday adjust her work rate to a higher pace. Does not need to be at Fishlock-level work rate, just higher than demonstrated over last 6 months, IMO.

      • AlexH

        Holiday had a good enough work rate in the WC and in the Olympics. She will be 27 and 28 for the next WC and Olympics respectively so I am not worried about her being an anchor on the team. She needs to be on the field because she can pretty much play anywhere and can thus give the team tactical flexibility as the situation warrants.

        • Steglitz49

          Nevertheless, it was an injury to Lauren that led to Alex Morgan coming on at half-time in the WC-11 final. Make of that what you will, but Mrs Holiday was unavailable for this Algarve tournament. I can’t remember the reason but it was not injury.

          • Vladlagg

            Her husband broke his leg. She is.taking time off to be with him, he needs surgery and it was a serious injury.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you. A very good reason. Oddly enough, it is the first time I learn of that explanation. I suppose it means that I do not follow Mrs Holiday’s career too closely. I don’t follow the NBA.

    • James

      Yet Lauren missed last Algarve yet they still won without her and Lloyd. I think both Lauren and Alex are missed.

      • Steglitz49

        If we won last year without her, why are we missing her this year?

    • smallbatches

      I love Holiday. What she did in NWSL is quickly forgotten. Led in goals and assists. Missed at least 3 games as well. She needs to be reminded to play higher on the pitch so that she can use her offensive skills when the opportunities present. She has a tendency to drop to far in the midfield because Carli has no touch and is really best at crashing the goal and fouling people. I like Brian but I just don’t think she is ready yet at the elite level. More caps and she needs to put on some muscle.

      I would like to see Becky Sauerbrunn tried as the holding mid. She could definitely play there. She is good over the ball, poise under pressure, good size. She can get forward too. But she would embrace the job description and play the position. Krieger, Dunn, Engen, Rampone, Kling, O’Hara, they have plenty of people they can plugin in the back.

      • Steglitz49

        The back-line against Sweden screwed up and Sweden got a goal. At least the goal by Japan was one for the ages.

        Oddly enough all the discussion seems to be about the failure of the forwards and attacking midfield, and not the defense. I suppose with as much possession that the US had and all time they camped out in the half of the opposition, they should have scored 3 or 4 goals, but it is the defensive MF and its backline that is weak for the USNT.

  • Steglitz49

    Why on earth did he start Abby? Please can someone explain that to this bear of little brain? Why?

    • luke

      You do not tease the bear. It’s dangerous.

      • Steglitz49

        You could bait it with buns, though.

    • nwslfan

      only what the others have said, to test her up against Nilla Fischer and look at performance, results USA does elaborate fitness testing, speed, quickness + they strap GPS devices onto the players. TS KNEW whether Abby was match fit. He has a computer full of data.

      • Steglitz49

        You mean that he wanted to establish in open court that certain players can’t hack it any longer. It makes sense — provided he now sidelines them.

  • nwslfan

    I think the laurels have finally wilted. the competition for forward spots has been blasted wide open, IMO. this should make 2014 very interesting for Hagan, Horan etc etc.

    • Steglitz49

      The defense needs a good overhaul also, long overdue.

      • EbaJ

        What changes do you see on defense?

  • Amy Brookheimer

    If any game was begging for a Press/Wambach pairing it was this one. Instead, we time traveled back to 2010. As soon as I saw the lineup, I knew that Pia would tell Fischer to have a light breakfast because she was about to saddle up to an all-you-can-eat buffet. I don’t know whether Sermanni’s halftime adjustment of subbing KO for Kling rather than addressing the midfield issue and his inexplicable refusal to yank the wholly ineffective Wambach until the 80′ indicate incompetence or boldness. I expected more in a year of “performance and results.”

    • NYRick

      You are always a good voice of reason and logic. I enjoy your comments.

      Agree it should have been Press-Abby or even Press-Hagen with Abby coming in around the 60 minute mark for Hagen. This way maybe she can go full boar for 30 with Fisher after Fisher had to deal a bit with a big body like Hagen and worrying about Press roaming around. Just really dumb strategy that played right into Pia’s gameplan. And sorry, no more starts for ARod. It really is insulting to the other forwards. She had great opportunities in this program in her prime (I realize she’s still only about 26), but she was better at 22 and couldn’t finish then either.

      This is all about a system change the cleanses the team of Carli, HAO, Abby, Rampone etc. They are transitioned to more sub roles. It’s time to give the kids the reins and take your chances. They have plenty of talent and firepower and in reality this team hasn’t won the WC since 99 with this current core. I’m not into their nostalgic walk into the sunset. It could end ugly at WC15 with a 4th or 5th place finish unless TS grows a pair and makes the tough decisions.

      • Silver Frost

        I’d wager it’s 50/50 whether TS decides to double down and strive to make the WNT more effective for the service of A-Rod/Wambachio. Maybe it would work, but today’s result casts doubt on using nostalgia as a game plan.

        I was looking forward to the WNT winning every match at Algarve, showing the world our depth of talent. Instead, we look like charlatans.

        • Amy Brookheimer

          You just identified my biggest fear: hitching our WC hopes on a mule in a horse harness who gets trotted out even when it doesn’t make sense.

          As a fantasy football player, I care about matchups. If your opponent has the Seahawks defense, it’s probably not a good idea to start a QB who likes air it out. An ARod/Wambach pairing against this defense was not a favorable matchup. Even if TS was wiling to give it a look-see for S&G, he should have pulled one of them at the half when it became clear that (1) Fischer was channeling her inner Henry VIII and (2) a 20-year old converted forward (Rubensson) was dominating the left flank. If anything, that missed PK deserved a benching. Rust my ass. They’ve been in residency and/or training for 3 friendlies + Algarve since early December. I get that Wambach needs to “manage her body” through rest and Mexican vacations, but what’s the point if she can’t perform? Krieger gift-wrapped an engraved ball to her in the first half. What happened? The ball trickled out of bounds while Wambach flashed her trademarked “aw, shucks” smirk and shrugged her shoulders. She was a step behind the run of play all game. It was sad, really.

          That being said, I’m not too worried about future ARod/Wambach pairings. ARod was a decent fill-in for Morgan against a overwhelmed opponent like Russia where even I probably could have scored, but today should have shown TS that it just doesn’t work. Ironically, Wambach played so poorly today that she actually made ARod look good in comparison. Once Morgan comes back, ARod likely will be battling Press for the super-sub title, which I think is Press’s to lose because she’s a more dynamic player.

          • wosofan

            One thing I don’t quite understand: the USWNT twitter posting about Leroux’s illness suggested (to me at least) that that was the reason ARod was starting. That also suggests that Tom has no trouble starting Leroux on short rest (if she’s not sick), but has reservations about starting Press on short rest. In short, if Leroux couldn’t play, why didn’t he go with Press on short rest, instead of ARod?? I can only conclude that Tom was fundamentally using this match for evaluation purposes. In other words, he’d gotten ARod a taste of action in an easy match against Russia, and just wanted to get a good, long look at her in a real match environment. I hope he learned that she just doesn’t have it.

          • Amy Brookheimer

            I took the Syd announcement as explaining why she wasn’t a sub, not an indication that she was a late scratch. I think the ARod/Wambach start was intentional. Tom has been evaluating the Wambach/ARod pairing this year. They both subbed in for Leroux/Press after 60′ against Russia I and both started Russia II (relieved at 75′ and 81′ respectively).

            I’ll be anxiously awaiting the lineup for Denmark. I’d like to see Hagen get the start with Press, but I’m not holding my breath. I also expect to see Engen back in the lineup (and fingers crossed for Kling, too). They did a good job containing Nadim during TFF’s CL run.

          • Steglitz49

            He had no business starting Abby. He ought to have started Christen. Against Denmark it ought to be Christen + Sarah Hagen or, possibly, Christen + ARod. We will learn a lot from the Denmark game.

          • wosofan

            Love Nadia Nadim. Love her style and just her attitude.

            Anyway, is Tom doing this ARod thing as a way of seeing if they would make an adequate starting pairing — i.e., a second team of starting forwards? I almost suspect that he envisions wholesale swapping of line-ups during the World Cup, match by match, almost bringing 2 teams along, and having them go on and off sequentially. I think that is perhaps his strategy for making Abby viable — surely he knows she cannot start and play massive minutes for 6 or 7 matches over three weeks, on fake turf in July heat. In short, two pairs of starting forwards, and the 5th forward (Press), would be the late substitute as needed, if any of the pair are too tired to play 90 mins.

            This is crazy if that’s his plan.

          • NYRick

            If this is his true plan, they should clear out his office immediately if not sooner. ARod’s only prayer of making the WC roster would only and should only occur with an injury to the other 4. Nothing else. And also, Hagen is a much better #4 forward option if injury occurred to the other 4 since she gives the team a bigger body and a different option to utilize.

            Actually, if names weren’t on the back of the jerseys, I would take Hagen before Abby to the WC. I know sacrilege here, but if I truly want to win, that may be the smart play.

          • NYRick

            Let me also add that if Press is “competing” with ARod for the 4th forward spot and for minutes in general, than the absurdity of this team and it’s coaching truly knows no bounds. And I’m not saying that as a Press fan. I would say that as an opposing coach and literally laugh my ass off if that’s how the US team played it.

          • Nwslfan

            Agree. I don’t mind giving ARod a chance and she finished a nice volley v Russia, but come on, she definitely struggled to connect on passes v Russia.

          • Steglitz49

            Christen is not just competing with ARod. Apart from (a fit) Alex and Syd, there are at least Sarah Hagen and Lindsey Horan in the mix, let alone Abby as supersub and mascot.

            TS’s headache is that he can’t count on Alex being injury-free for WC-15. That’s the core of his sour apple.

          • newsouth

            where do you come up with this stuff? horan isn’t in the picture because she can’t even win her forward position for her club. you have to do that first. second, hagen is wambach part II, just watching the sweden game. no way he can roster her with wambach, sydney and morgan. just prepare for hagen and morgan and the other two are covered.

          • Steglitz49

            Abby will not be a starter in WC-15, though she will be on the roster of 23. TS’s headache is that he must develop a threesome — strictly speaking Alex + two others — who can play as pairs together and take over if Alex is injured.

            I would prefer at least one big bruising forward, which today means either Ms Hagen or Horan. That is why he should have started Christen with ARod and at half-time brought on Sarah while keeping Christen on the pitch. Still he has Denmark and either China or Iceland to practice against.

            TS can afford to select 4 forwards + Abby, which means that if Alex is fully fit, he is only looking for max 3 forwards.

          • Calci0

            Horan is 2nd for PSG in goals scored with less minutes than most. Delie a “starter” has 15 appearances, with 11 starts. Horan has 13 appearances with 11 starts. That’s a better ratio than Delie…. And Horan has had U-20 duty that’s pulled her away. So I’d say she’s MORE than in the picture for a tournament 1.5 years away………..

          • Steglitz49

            Verily and forsooth. Provided Lindsey does well in U20WC, she is a shoe-in for WC-15. Why the PSG coach does not start Lindsey is beyond me. Nationalism?

          • Calci0

            That’s what I was trying to say though. Horan does get to start a majority of the time she is available. It’s just her U-20 commitments have taken her away from PSG so she just doesn’t get as many opportunities. Take the PSG game on the 23rd of Feb. Horan was avail. But once she’s back wit the club, she’ll be on the field.

          • Steglitz49

            I doubt that they are listening. They are hell bent on their favorite forward making the team, come hell or high water. I would go for Lindsey.

          • NYRick

            I’ll say this to you for probably the hundredth time, and I know you’ll ignore it again anyway but…

            If Press (if healthy) is not ONE of the 4 forwards on the US WC15 roster than TS should be fitted for a straightjacket. Enough with this Horan, Hagen and ARod nonsense. It really needs to stop. Horan and Hagen have two caps between them, and ARod was the worst forward starter in the program’s history.

            The have 3 pearls (Alex, Syd and Press). Any fool (fan or veteran coach) can clearly see that…but you! Abby is a problem, but we all know that. Enough with this “target” forward nonsense to replace Abby. For that matter, Syd can easily fill that role. She is about as strong and physical as any forward in the sport right now, and 5’7″ too. Plus, Press is looking more fit and physical than many of us have ever seen her play.

          • Steglitz49

            Let’s wait and see what the rest of this Algarve cup tells us. Then we can ponder the Champions League, the NWSL and the next Algarve cup, not forgetting U20 WC. Time will tell though it may not heal all injuries in time.

            Meanwhile, let’s laugh at the absurd US-Japan game and admire the female Roberto Carlos but not depress ourselves too much by dwelling on why the US did not win 3-1. It must be jolly comforting, though, to play on a team where a impish teddy-bear of a player can score from 30 yds against the world’s best goalie.

          • VaFan51

            I completely agree. To me, if ARod is (still?) in serious contention for a WC spot, then there is serious trouble with evaluation and planning. And I cannot imagine there is any doubt about Press being in the group. Alex and Syd make it.. So, who is most doubtful?
            It has to be Abby. Why? Because the WC is 18 months away. Alex, Syd, Press, Hagen, and Horan are still developing and improving.and all will be better 18 months from now. Can Abby be as good then as she was 6 months ago?
            Our most immediate goal is to qualify for the WC. (Let’s never forget Mexico and Italy!) Is Abby still one of our best 5 forwards 5-6 months from now? But even if she is, would we really think she is one of the best 5 nearly a year later?
            The big problem right now is that the entire offensive strategy is built around Abby — long direct balls and crosses into the middle, all in the hope of finding Abby’s head. That may have won an Olympics 2 years ago, but it’s made us predictable (see Sweden) and it’s made us inflexible. I think we have seen in recent matches that some of our most accomplished and successful veterans struggle when the focus in not on Abby; they have little experience with flexibility and creativity.
            The stark truth is that we cannot develop other approaches unless Abby is not on the pitch. We need to
            (1) give other forwards a lot more time in matches,
            (2) give the younger players a lot more time in matches, and
            (3) give everybody a lot more time playing with forwards other than Abby.

          • Reality

            Couldn’t agree more.

          • guest

            and why do they seem to struggle and be inflexible? because pia did build the attack around abby. for 5 years.

          • Steglitz49

            Pia has not coached the USNT for quite a while now. She can hardly be hauled over the coals for the failures in the Algarve. Indeed, Pia’s current team has done OK so far.

          • wosofan

            Yesterday’s match shortcomings do fall on Sermanni, insofar as he played Abby and ARod, and stuck with them for too long.

            But if you are thinking Sermanni is responsible for not having a full roster of experienced players in their 20s who are all playing technical soccer, you’re mistaken. Pia’s legacy must include what she failed to develop during her time with the USWNT. Her stubborn attitude toward player development was the No. 1 reason Sermanni was hired (his reputation is that of one who integrates youth players into international soccer). Don’t make Sermanni the fall guy if the USWNT is not playing beautiful soccer with great technical, younger, experienced players in early 2014. I will blame him, however, if he tries to win the 2015 World Cup without a tactical and personnel overhaul. He’s already made some moves — Sauerbrunn is a starter and Buehler is just a placeholder until a younger centerback can play effectively. Engen is sure to replace Rampone, who is a better defender than technician. Brian is surely a World Cup starter in 2015, and I really do not see Boxx as a starter in 2015. Press and Hagen are surely more in the picture than they would be under Pia. (I have to believe this ARod thing is just to fully evaluate her, and perhaps give her motivation to get playing better this year). He is stuck on HAO and Cox right now, but he may move beyond them when he acknowledges their limitations (and frankly, other players, some injured, need to step up and push them aside). Tom is looking at Sarah Killion — and Pia would not have done that.

            Pia is about playing a risky 4-4-2, of high pressure with fit athletes. It’s how the US (barely) got the gold in 2012, and barely got to the WC Final in 2011. She caught lightening in a bottle with Alex Morgan coming along at the right time. The team was stuck in so many ways in 2010 and 2011.

          • NYRick

            Absolutely fantastic post! One of the best I’ve read on here in two years. Really great stuff, well done and so true.

          • Steglitz49

            During Pia’s 5 year tenure she brought 4 young players into the national side: Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Kelley O’Hara (whom she converted to left back) and Sydney Leroux. She also tested several others, including Christen Press.

            Pia took over a team in meltdown. She read them the riot act. They reached all the three main finals during her tenure (and won the 2008 Olympics without Abby Wambach). During Pia’s tenure, only Norio Sasaki bested her. TS took over a well-oiled winning machine.

            In last year’s Algarve Cup the US and Sweden drew 1-1 and this year Sweden defeated the US 1-0. That does not mean that Sweden even will qualify for the World Cup because the European theatre of play is intense. Pia has converted another forward to defender, Elin Rubensson.

            Selfevidently, when the history of women’s soccer is written in 2050 a whole chapter will be devoted to Norio Sasaki. Anything less would be a travesty. But these snide attacks on Pia simply illustrates a bias that would be funny if they were not serious. It is pathetic.

          • newsouth

            i disagree with one thing. tom is looking a mewis II who is being championed from the background. that’s why she got the cap and killon is #24 or 23 players.

          • newsouth

            LOL!

          • Steglitz49

            Your observations are well taken but one could equally conclude that TS has made up his mind about Ms Press.

          • NYRick

            He needs to start Press at least 3 straight matches at forward. If she fails, she fails. But he needs to see that. He has an aversion for some strange reason. ARod on the squad is ridiculous and not helping matters.

          • Steglitz49

            He must start her against Denmark and in the 4th match. If he does not, he must have some ulterior motive or already made up his mind (either for or against).

          • wosofan

            I am confused about the Wambach not in shape thing. There is just no excuse. It’s like if a pro cyclist shows up for a winter training camp and has packed on 15 extra pounds — it’s just inexcusable. And since early December, she’s had about 50 days in camps or matches. So at least half her calendar, she’s been with the national team. I wonder what a player like Ali Krieger or HAO think when they see Abby’s condition?

          • guest

            Pretty sure every player on this roster, including goalkeepers, is in better shape than Abby’s been over the last six to eight months. It’s embarrassing really, you’d think an elite forward would take better care of her body.

          • Amy Brookheimer

            I don’t know about all of the goalkeepers….

          • guest

            Have you watched Abby play lately? She couldn’t outrun my 90 year old grandmother.

          • Wear Nikes Drink Gatorade

            Is there someone in particular you’re referring to?

          • Amy Brookheimer

            Oh, you can reach your own conclusion. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8uF2w5k3zQ

          • Silver Frost

            Go to the WNT website and see the recent 4v4 video. Hope Solo is one of the forwards, but Abbster is nowhere to be seen.

          • NYRick

            The preseason thing is a kind of joke for the US team. They have been in serious training for over two months with several separate residency camps, and even played 3 matches before Algarve, which is a lot before the beginning of March. That excuse doesn’t wash, for any player other than one rehabbing an injury.

            Also, those two Russian scrimmages didn’t do this team any favors before Algarve. You go from that to playing Japan and Sweden back to back, you will get humbled in some fashion. I’m just disappointed that they won’t play Germany here. Lost opportunity on a neutral field. As for Algarve in general, in retrospect the scoreline greatly flattered Japan in the first game, and the forward combo in the second was almost a concession of the game. Strange that it was to Pia. No way ARod should have seen the pitch before the Denmark game, and now even the 4th game is a garbage time match as well. TS has had a very bad week. 15 months to straighten out the mess, and it will take great courage and some sore vet egos. I don’t think he’ll do it right.

            My fear is that “Alex back cures all.” That will get Abby going and all will be well. For one, we have to really see about her right now. Hopefully she does return to top form, but it’s human nature for her to be a bit tentative. She has had several setbacks already with this ankle. Speed and athleticism are her game. Without good wheels, that’s not possible.

          • wosofan

            One big “excuse” Abby will have right now is that she’s not in shape “but will get into shape” during the NWSL season, and she’s “pacing herself” to have something left in the tank for WCQ. The thing is, the last time she was in shape was the NWSL Final, and just look at the type of sketchy offense WNY Flash displayed. They had Adriana and Kerr and Reynolds and Brittany Taylor just pumping long balls to her all night long, and Abby spent the night clawing with Buehler and Kat Williamson. Her second half strategy partly consisted of getting tripped up in defenders legs and flopping to the ground, and then LOUDLY complaining for yellow cards. And with 10 Thorns players for a long time in the second half, the Flash could not score on the Thorns (who were hardly a defensive stalwart last year). Now, if we face some weakling in the World Cup, Abby will win those types of battles, but, not against the teams that matter: Germany, Sweden, Japan, Norway, New Zealand, Canada, and maybe France, too, if they can find some courage under their new coach.

          • newsouth

            France finds some courage. – LOL!

          • Steglitz49

            The French are busy selling arms to Russia. Courage is not their thing.

          • NYRick

            Not fair. As a US citizen I thank the French for their courageous participation in WWII. The French underground was instrumental in helping the US and allies defeat Nazi Germany. Plus, the beautiful Statue of Liberty that sits on NYC harbor is a gift from France. Bash their soccer team, but not the country.

          • Steglitz49

            The Red Army, the US Navy and the industrial might of the USA defeated Nazi Germany, while in the early stages of the war Britain kept the torch burning bright.

          • NYRick

            All true, but the French had a role as well.

          • Steglitz49

            Do collaborators have a positive role?

            The French have conveniently tipp-exed out 1938-1958 from their history.

          • luke

            “French courageous participation in WWII” :D
            You’re very interesting and knowledgeable soccer commentator, stick to it.

          • NYRick

            Fair enough. I guess we have two different perspectives on it and I certainly respect yours as well. But can I still at least like the Statue of Liberty? :–)

          • Steglitz49

            Your point that “the scoreline greatly flattered Japan”may well be just, but whose fault was it? Who did not score for the US? Who did not provide service from the midfield? Who did not hack it out there?

          • newsouth

            tS can drown in his own whack-a-due interviews if wambach isn’t on the bench in the next 15 mths and retires after the WC, and he doesn’t figure out how to rotate minutes between morgan, press and sydney so the darn mid-fielders can figure them out because there is no cohesion at this moment because of fragmented playing time. and how the hell does wambach need a conditioning coach when she is on the most fit and wealthiest women’s club in the world? why the hell is tymrak on the u23 squad while mewis twins just play OK! that’s an abomination. his outside back, esp kling, had speed problems. how do you go to ucla and not offer courtnall a car and condo to come and play for the usa since dunn is the only real speed left with rampone just about calling it a day?
            unlike wambach she is just along for the ride on the field or the bench. in this team’s current state which includes the 2013 version of morgan this team would not get through three elimination games in the WC with Germany, France, Brazil, Sweden (Pia got the number on his forwards) and/or Brazil on tap

          • NYRick

            Pinoe and HAO are a huge problem. A humungous problem actually. This is not to say that they are bad people, bad teammates or bad players. They are very good players, but they know only one way to play in this US system. I don’t care how technical people think Pinoe is. She tries to do too much, like most technically skilled players, and her mindset is much like HAO. Let me whip the ball into the box to find Abby’s head. Doesn’t work anymore. Not against the good teams. They know it, they’ve seen it, and Abby is too slow and really diminished of her skill set that made her formidable. Flopping and arguing has been her game for a good two or so years now. Morgan hid the warts in her game. Also this FIFA POY nonsense (1st and second) the last two years does not help matters. It complicates in a bad way because not only she, but her media friends champion her as the Abby of 2005 or even 2011. That version has left the building.

            It can’t go through Abby. The wake-up call has finally arrived in March 2014, a good 15 months before the WC. The problem is that at the Oct qualifiers she’ll probably score about 4 goals against the tomato can opponents and mask the truth further.

          • NYRick

            Let me add that I’ve never seen an outside defender put HAO in her back pocket the entire match like the Swedish girl did yesterday. Not a very good sign either for the team. Even with HAO’s one move (that everyone and of course Pia knows), HAO still usually frees herself down the flank for some troubling crosses. Not yesterday. It made Abby even more invisible and useless in the match.

          • Steglitz49

            The US needs to find a better back line. The Swedish goal was as much a US failure as the Japanese goalie was for them, just not so obviously comical. Rather sad, actually.

          • AlexH

            I don’t think that Pino and HAO are a huge problem because they were crossing the ball in search of Abby’s head. It’s not like the “pass the ball to Abby” play hasn’t worked for about a decade, and for all we know TS may have told them to do just that.

          • Steglitz49

            In WC-11 we might have Alex’s head. Nevertheless, it would be useful to have a big tall bruising forward in the box, like Sarah Hagen or Lindsey Horan.

          • Calci0

            My fear is that people are putting too much into AM period. She is elite no doubt, but I still think we need to temper the idea that she will change everything.

          • en_observation

            or that she even comes back from the injury the same player that we saw before.

          • Steglitz49

            Hear hear! Verily and forsooth. That is TS’s headache.

          • Steglitz49

            “her inner Henry VIII”? What is that in plain English?

            It was, after all, his younger daughter who was the star. Henry was pretty pedestrian and in many ways a glorious failure, wives or no wives.

          • Amy Brookheimer

            You may recall that Henry VIII was a well-known glutton whose appetites were sated by consumption of very large haunches of lamb.

          • Steglitz49

            OK. But, in that case, who is the team’s Cranmer?

          • Cromwell

            Pedestrian? Henry VIII established the Church of England and broke away from Rome. The Anglican communion still exists, with millions of adherents. But he did murder two of his wives.

          • Steglitz49

            He was a larger than life character for sure, the Berlusconi of his day if not Slick Willie, but it was his daughter Elizabeth, who made England the most powerful nation on the earth, having taken over at 25 years when the country was on the brink of civil war. True leadership, which is that which is wanting in the USNT.

          • Nwslfan

            I have wondered, after more than a few 90 min games in 2013, if TS is letting Wambach play herself onto the bench. Been eager to see post game reaction.

          • wosofan

            Anyone surprised at no reaction from coach or players, anywhere? I find that immature, unprofessional. You take your lumps, stand up like an adult, and face the cameras. This is almost as bad as when US Soccer posted the Japan highlights and left out the Miyama goal. Really petty stuff. It’s like an organization being run by a political campaign manager, with a lot of spin.

          • ROOTchino

            As far as I can tell HAO is the only one who posted something on her twitter. No one else has said a damn word. USS are going to have to post something eventually as they promised highlights from all the games. Who knows if we’ll get a reaction vid. To be fair the Japan highlight video mentioned there was a technical issue and the Miyama goal was posted separately as a video on their channel. https://twitter.com/HeatherOReilly/status/442017765021712385

          • Steglitz49

            They could hardly get worse — except by having lost to Japan, of course.

            Now Denmark awaits and then either China or Iceland. At least the Faeroe Islands are not here.

          • nwslfan

            perhaps the vets will do some soul searching? do I set the right tone for the newbies? loose (yes), casual (no). Should I play flappy birds or watch game film during rest and recovery? Should I tweet asking for recommendations about a fitness center in my new home town in March [I am not making this up], or do I send that tweet in 2013?

          • Think about it

            So basically you think they should become robots and have no life. They lost one game, it is not the end of the world. The fans have become spoilt and always expect a win, we all need to be realistic.

          • nwslfan

            not saying that. stay loose, yes. I don’t mind at all that team lost- you learn from mistakes and this team, AND for various reasons, this team may have NEEDED a loss to shake up the establishment. However, I am surprised to see public tweets in march re trying to get in condition, when the nwsl season opener is 5 weeks away. I am also one who has been annoyed with the decision making and style of play of some midfielders and forwards for several games now, despite the wins, and I want to see some change in the approach to the game. Some players have never experienced loss on the NT. Further, it is not being robotic for a pro athlete to watch some damn film and learn from it.

          • wosofan

            That Wambach tweet, by the way, has got to be the strangest thing I’ve seen from a pro athlete in quite a while. She is this famous women’s athlete, who works with physical training specialists on the WNT (who must know dozens of fitness experts across the country), and she sends out a tweet looking for someone to help her with her quickness or something, in a city where she’s lived since last fall? Isn’t she or wasn’t she sponsored by Nike — and aren’t their world headquarters just outside of Portland? There are all sorts of fitness contacts through Nike. And, she has friends on the Portland Thorns who train in Portland. And, a whole bunch of UP alums who played soccer there. And she cannot find a trainer? Also, there is that USWNT fitness trainer, Robbie Elliot — a former professional soccer player from England — who lives in Portland.

            I actually don’t think the tweet was sincere. I almost think she may have gotten stick from Tom or a WNT staff member about her physical condition, and that was her passive-aggressive response. There could be a huge problem brewing.

          • NYRick

            Didn’t see the tweet, but from what you’re saying it sounds like she may be ready to talk to Anthony Bosch or somebody from a Balco-like facility. Hope not. But don’t laugh. She wouldn’t be the first famous high-profile fading athlete looking and desperately trying to find an edge to stay on top. Especially with this WC15 pending. She has made it quite clear how bad she wants that. Not just wants it, but wants to be a big part of it. People do strange things when they put this type of pressure upon themselves.

            Let me repeat for the Abby fanatics out there, I HOPE SHE IS NOT going that type of route and honestly DON’T BELIEVE SHE WILL, but it is a strange scenario developing for sure.

          • JAMES 18

            The B12 ROUTE,LOL !!!

          • NYRick

            As the legend of Dr. Feelgood goes in the White House circa early 60s…

            JFK once said to brother Bobby, “I don’t care if he’s injecting me with horse piss. It makes me feel great.”

            Also, supposedly part of the JFK cover-up following his assassination (autopsy botched, evidence mysteriously destroyed at hospital etc.) was due to the fact that white house “insiders” including wife Jackie, and certainly Attorney General brother Bobby were worried that an extensive autopsy would reveal major drug use. Those “B12″ shots you refer too. Many doctors have concluded that they were as powerful as pure heroine.

          • LBJ

            Stick to soccer.

          • NYRick

            Sorry, you’re right there. Sometimes sports analogies go into strange tangents.

          • JAMES 18

            LOL !!!

          • Amy Brookheimer

            I’ve been expecting her to sneak off to Germany to get some Orthokine youth serum. Her “rest me so I can play 90 minutes plan” has never made sense to me. I can’t recall reading about how Ryan Giggs or Rio Ferdinand skip practice to “preserve” their bodies.

          • NYRick

            I’m thinking some of that crazy blood doping stuff may be on the agenda. I know she has one ARod’s number. Maybe she should call the real ARod for some leads. :–)

            The funny thing is that people will say, no way would she ever resort to that. And I hope not for her sake, I truly do. But I think she is kind of the perfect candidate to be honest. It does not seem to be beyond her to try anything.

            As I’ve said many times, she has a lot more Favre in her than she does Jeter. Derek is too smart to embarrass himself and wants to go out with just a little still in the tank. His legacy is everything to him. Background: great family (dad’s a doc), actually called his manager, “Mr. Torre” from day one to the day Torre left. This when he was one of the biggest stars in American sports. I wish Abby would take a cue from “Mr. Jeter.” It’s about legacy. She has accomplished everything possible in the sport beyond her wildest dreams I’m sure. Why not ride the pine as a role player if the WC title is that important. No one will care. She’ll just have the final jewel to her career. But she’s not going to get that if she insists and pressures for a starring role.

          • Amy Brookheimer

            For all of the team first platitudes that she has espoused over the years, I’ve always considered her to be obsessed with wanting to be lauded as the “The One” who was responsible for winning a WC in the post-99er era; youngest child syndrome or what-not. She’s already had three bites at the apple and has come up short every time. I get wanting to have a 4th, but at some point she needs to accept the reality that she’s not 23, not 27, and not 31 anymore. It’s the epitome of selfishness to insist that she and not the other forwards get a shot at achieving their dreams. Take a seat, collect your medal, and enjoy your retirement with a nation of adoring fans behind you.

          • JAMES 18

            Indeed.

          • NYRick

            I wonder if they won that WC11 final shoot-out with Japan if she would be acting or feeling this way. Part of me thinks she still would want to play and star at WC15. And it would be for the selfish reasons you illustrate. The youngest child syndrome or Chosen One or Torch bearer for the 99ers is the way I always saw it for her too. You’ll hear that’s how she’s wired, it’s in her DNA. But that’s bull. That’s how every great athlete is wired, not just her. It takes a coach with courage to stand up to the program. In women’s soccer it’s not like you have a Nick Saben or Rick Pitino in charge. They are bigger than the players. On the USWNT, the players are bigger. Especially the iconic record holder who’s been on the scene for about 15 years, and is Mia’s “chosen one.” If someone can disagree, then tell me that Abby, Hope and Alex aren’t far more important to the program than TS…at the very least in US soccer’s eyes. That’s the main problem.

            And as you point out, who is to say that Alex, Syd, Press and Hagen get another shot at this, even if they’re younger. It could be their only chance too. Why should their dreams be hindered. They worked hard to get where they are too.

            It’s like the famous Ilie Nastase quote about Jimmy Connors miraculous US Open 1990 run to the semis at age 39. “He’s getting one more time. That’s what we all want.”

          • NYRick

            It’s important to note on Connors at 39 that he played the individual sport of tennis, not a team sport. So anything he did or any age he pushed himself to was at the expense of his own legacy if he looked foolish. Abby plays the ultimate team sport so selfish decisions have far reaching consequences to the team. Especially a team built to her skill set for over a decade.

          • Amy Brookheimer

            I’ll age myself by saying that I was a tennis-crazy freshman in high school in 1991 (Agassi…swoon!) and that US Open run still ranks up there as one of the greatest moments in sports. The difference, though, is that Connors wasn’t part of a team. He could get exemptions into major tournaments without having to deal with the grind of the international tour.

          • nwslfan

            I am surprised, disappointed. at least US Soccer updated its highlights to include Miyama goal, TG.

            I do like the English commentators, but to blather on that Pinoe “ran hard the whole game” ignores the visible evidence that she was walking/trotting back on D… a lot. As a midfielder, you bust it to get numbers behind the ball when the other team has possession. this is fundamentals. they teach this to 10-11 yo.

          • Terry Lash

            I have wondered the same thing for some time. I have also thought that she was given so many minutes during 2013 as a kind of send off and as a way to please domestic fans. I do not believe Sermanni sees her as a starter at the WWC next year.

          • Steglitz49

            This is a reasonable explanation of his strategy and might also explain why he paired Abby with ARod and not Christen.

          • Steglitz49

            Yes. At least I hope that that is his strategy.

        • Steglitz49

          The US is playing without the world’s best forward. (Just as if Miyama had not played for Japan, we would have won that match ridiculous goal not withstanding.)

          The most charitable explanation is that TS is using the Algarve to justify side-lining some of the family pets and not including some hopefuls. He could feel obliged to demonstrate unequivocally why he takes whom to WC-15.

      • Steglitz49

        I think we can agree that TS ought to have been starting Christen in every game in the Algarve. Elsewhere I have typed my thoughts about his strategy. Press-Hagen or Press-ARod are such obvious pairings, that one must assume that there is method in his madness.

        I do not envy TS. His star player is injured and may well get married this year. She probably will do some commentating during the WC. Other stars have walked away from their game, such as Bjorn Borg at 26, Magdalena Neuner and Rosi Mittermaier at 25, though Annemarie went on till 27 so there is hope with Alex yet.

        • guest

          Why would she be commentating? Unlike players before her (Mitts, Osbourne, Whitehill, etc) she has shown no interest to do this.

          • Steglitz49

            Money and exposure.

    • Steglitz49

      Que?! Why waste a game? TS should have started Christen, preferably with Sarah Hagen but ARod would have been OK also (but then bring Sarah on at halftime).

      The charitable conclusion is, that TS feels a need to demonstrate that certain players can’t hack it any longer &/or never could. In that scenario, he is building a case for either leaving them totally out of the 23-players roster or at best have them along as super-subs.

      TS also has to address the very real concern, that Alex Morgan may not be injury-free come summer of ’15. If he does not plan for that, he is a fool.

      • Amy Brookheimer

        I considered whether he intentionally mismanaged this game to see who would step up, take responsibility for scoring, and, in effect, stand up to Wambach. No one really did until a few minutes before she was subbed out and she was visibly (and audibly) frustrated. Did he think, “I’ll take a dive here, get the loss-monkey off my back, and log the lack of urgency and effort in my “player ‘performance and results’ spreadsheet”? I’m not so sure. He wants to win games and could easily have pocketed his “teachable moment” by 65′, inserted in Press and Hagen with the Mewii, and watched them do what they do. We had a crazy number of chances in the final 10 minutes. Some of them were desperation-type shots, but a fair number were quality chances that should have been taken 15+ minutes earlier.

        It would have been nice to sneak away with a draw and give us a chance to play an almost fully-loaded German side. Now we’ll be lucky to get China, who, by the way, we’ll be seeing twice next month anyway. If I weren’t already exhausted from waking up at 5:30 am to watch a horribly commentated stream, I might fall asleep from boredom.

        • Steglitz49

          I think TS now has made his case for having Abby as super-sub (or even less). Now he must reach a conclusion about Christen Press (unless he already has) and start tackling the midfield.

        • Nwslfan

          Maybe it IS the way to incite a rebellion? Could TS be more clever than we realize? Plot thickens. I think we needed a loss to chew on though, but it would be nice to face Germany.

        • nwslfan

          experienced coaches can learn from mistakes too. I hope TS evaluates how he managed the game and learns from it. bc it would have been great to play Germany in March.

    • Steglitz49

      Why Press-Wambach? You mean Press-Hagen, don’t you? Or, at least Press-ARod.

  • FCKCEvans

    I am not a Wambach hater….But she’s simply not in top form right now. There’s no need to give her significant minutes vs Denmark. Any other forward combo is welcome.

    • guest

      There hasn’t been a need to give her significant minutes since June 20th of last year. This continued over playing of a player who can clearly barely manage 45 minutes on the field, let alone the 80-90 she usually gets, is only going to do more harm than good for this team. Hopefully this was the wake-up call Tom needed to realize she doesn’t need to be playing that much anymore when better options are available.

  • dj

    Many make fun of and at times , really mean to Morgan but w/o her speed and passing, yes passing , they look lost.

    Teams know if they stand up to us physically, they will have to a chance to beat us.
    Syd always tries hard but she is not a technical player.

    TS has to decide if he is for building a new team or just kicking the ball around for fun. He has about 6-8 months to put together the WC team.

    • newsouth

      morgan wouldn’t have made a different. swedish backs would have had her on the ground picking grass out of her teeth again and jumping up to fight someone. pia got her number too. they got whole problems right now.

      • init2winit

        Agreed!

      • lolol

        Morgan consistently scores or assists goals in big matches. She scored last year against Sweden. That’s more than another of the other forwards have been able to do for the last two years.

      • Steglitz49

        TS’s headache is not that Alex is injured now. His headache is that she might not be fit for WC-15. Thus, he has to build alternative strategies. I don’t envy him.

        • guest

          You don’t think she can fit for a tournament that it a year and a half away? You’re so delusional.

          • Steglitz49

            Alex is likely to be fit but there are plenty of chances to be injured, including off the pitch. A wise general prepares for eventualities. There is at least a NWSL season to play.

          • guest

            I agree, but you ALWAYS mention Alex when you’re talking about not being fit, ALL PLAYERS run the risk of not being fit. Hell, one of them could break their leg against Denmark, or get hurt playing for their clubs. Just say all players, why do you have to single players out?

          • Steglitz49

            This is a comment-string that starts with a comment about Morgan, and from the context it is Alex and not Ms Brian. Thus, it is reasonable to discuss Alex, not least because she was injured during the NWSL season and is sitting out this Algarve cup.

            Injuries hit all the time, Sweden has to play Japan without Kosovare Asllani and Charlotte Rohlin. The difference is that with Alex out the US can replace her with either Ms Press, Hagen or ARod, for example.

            Alex Morgan has been one of the world’s very best attackers for 3-4 years now. She not only scores goals with her head as well as her feet, but she has as many assists as goals. Alex injured is not trivial for the NT.

      • dj

        Are you one of those meanies? you are so wrong. Morgan would have helped split the swedes defense. TS’s task now is find a partner up front to play with Morgan because Abby is slowing down. Maybe try one of the kids Hagen or Horan.

        • Steglitz49

          He needs a threesome in case Alex gets injured. He needs three forwards that can play interchangeably with each other. Inspite of the depth and breadth of the US talent-pool, it is not an easy task.

          • dj

            Anytime, I read about the talent pool, I want to puke. It may seem that we have some good players but they are not all good or capable of doing great things. Teams have caught up to us now. I am seeing a bad trend really. The world class talent pool is actually eroding. They do not have many technical players. Solo is showing signs of being old to me. The midfield is suspect even with Holiday. Peno is very erractic.

            I am no expert but I am seeing a bad trend.

          • Calci0

            One loss in 43 games is showing a bad trend. A WC final app, an OG win, last years AC. Beating Canada, multiple times, Either beating or getting a tie against Germany. I’m seeing a loss, in which the US had more chances than Sweden. A tie against Japan, in which the US again had an advantage in attacking. When teams main strategy is to hunker down and stack up the D I’d say that’s respecting the quality of US talent.

          • Steglitz49

            Always look on the bright side of life.

          • Calci0

            Not even so much that. Just taking a look at things in perspective. One loss. A 1-0 loss at that, and people are acting as if we got blown out. Sweden got their goal (earned it!), but what is the talk. Sweden’s defense. Why?!? Because that’s pretty much what they were relegated to a majority of the game. The USA was “outscored”, but can you really say they were “outplayed”?!? Most of the match was played on the Swedish side it seemed, even with their high line.

          • D23

            I actually think you can, because aside from the period when the subs were made, irrespective of where the play physically was on the field, I think Sweden controlled it. That was their game plan which was executed. I am still scratching my head to figure out what the US game plan was. There were very few periods where the US looked like they were building to something in an organised way. They were dispossessed way too frequently and that was in part a result of the Swedish defence (which collectively (all 11 of them)) was superb but also because the play was so predictable and lack dynamism. There weren’t multiple moving options which really challenge a defence. The forwards just sat up top and hoped they would a chance would present itself rather than help try to make one. The huge difference you noticed with the subs was how alive the US became when you had multiple players in motion and what a challenge this presented to the Swedish defence which for the first time in the match seemed under pressure.

          • Calci0

            I don’t have the stats for possession, but the USA seemed to have more of it. And like I said, Sweden played tight defense, but that’s only half the game. The US also played tight defense, yes they gave up a goal, but that was only one of 3 shots on target (ALL GAME). The US even getting shutout showed more on offense. And played both offense and defense not just hunkering down in the back.

            Stats Summary: USA / SWE

            Shots: 12 / 4
            Shots on Goal: 6 / 3
            Saves: 2 / 6
            Corner Kicks: 7 / 1
            Fouls: 9 / 14
            Offside: 6 / 5

          • D23

            Not picking a fight with you, we may just have different perspectives and there is nothing wrong with that. In my opinion, once Sweden took the lead though they could afford to play like that. They are a team that also, generally, prefer to attack on the counter. They are a bit like NZ in this respect – another team who the US struggle against. In one respect this was a really good challenge for the US in that they were forced to try to open up a team who had the lead and looked more to keep rather than extend it. And in my opinion they did a poor job running productive attack prior to the intro of the subs. I would be interested to see the shots/shots on goal breakdown between the time before and after the subs.

          • Steglitz49

            You have to attack on the counter when playing a team like the US with its massive fire-power and strength in depth. There is no other choice. Ask Japan.

            Apart from their obvious skill, American players have size, stamina and assertiveness in their quiver. Thus, when they come up against teams with big and fit players who stand their ground, it is unfamiliar territory.

            The quality of the Hope Solo in goal — she even got a hand on Miyama’s freekick — has made up for defensive defects but even Hope is not immune to the ravages of age.

          • Calci0

            I’m not too concerned with Hope’s performance. And yed Age catches up to everyone, but got GK’s it’s not as much of an issue. See Brad Friedel.

          • Steglitz49

            The goal was a howler, yet people are not baying for the heads of those two defenders who screwed up. Why not?

            Because no-one cares about defense in the US? The glamor is to score goals.

          • Guest

            A wind assisted fk and an unmarked Lotta header has you worried about Solo? Angerer leaked in goals in the wleague final and no one is worried about her abilities.

          • newsouth

            in europe they said it was a clean strike and she got beat b/c she couldn’t recover after the initial shift to her right. since there is no goal video we can’t see the trajectory of the ball so no one really knows.

          • Steglitz49

            You are right and if you go to the original Eurosport full match video you see several angles. It was the women’s equivalent to Roberto Carlos’s goal against France.

            Hope showed her class by getting a hand to the ball. Any other keeper would have been left watching it flypast her. Well done Hope.

          • Steglitz49

            It was a fabulous strike. Hope showed her class by getting a hand on the ball. Miyama demonstarted yet again what an outstanding freekicker she is.

          • EbaJ

            Watch the replay closely Hope cheated towards the other side just before the kick. She made a great recovery she just made a one step mistake.

          • NYRick

            We can easily surmise one who is not included in this “threesome” you suggest.

          • Steglitz49

            He has at least till the Algarve cup 2015 before he needs to decide unless injuries etc decide for him. Wait and see.

  • Terry Lash

    What did Sermanni say after the game? I did not see an interview posted by US Soccer. What have been the reactions of players beyond the statements to ESPNW?

    • Reality

      It is taking them a while to react. I’m curious to see how USSF will spin this. Ho-hum just another game or perhaps an opportunity for revaluation?

  • Tom F

    replay is up for all that left over 400 posts(at the other thread) but might of not actually watched the game, lol
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwvzmSUsKeQ

    • gerd karl

      the usa is slow, no fight and abby wambach was so weak
      rapinoe has made so many fail passes.
      and sermanni why he brings sarah hagen no earlier.

      for sweden, great fight, great win.

      • nwslfan

        actually, you are spot on w this critique.

        • Lala

          I agree. In the part I saw, Sweden were much quicker to the ball and had the run of play. USA were more often dispossessed.

    • Sydonia

      Why torture yourself watching this atrocity?

      • nwslfan

        let’s hope the USWNT watches the film ad nauseum and learns from it.

    • Steglitz49

      I think it was the Swedish pensioners (snow-birds) in the stands shouting slogans not heard since the 1958 world cup, that did the damage.

      On the other hand, the right back was as inept as the Japanese goalie the other day, and the lass marking Lotta lost Lotta. On such small margins a non-losing streak is lost.

  • gerd karl

    if sermanni would be a great coach, he would sooner let hagen against fischer.
    because what happened on 02.26.2014 in the german bundesliga.
    bayern münchen win against vfl wolfsburg with 3-1, sarah hagen lap a goal.
    yes league games are very important.

  • AshleyWDC
    • Reality

      All commentary…why limit it to sports?

      • AshleyWDC

        Very true. :)

    • nwslfan

      haha love it. but it is great fun to speculate

  • ROOTchino

    Also found some comments from Sermanni and players in this article..
    “You’re always going to lose games in football. That’s how it works,” :
    http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/10568653/2014-algarve-cup-us-women-lose-sweden-end-43-game-unbeaten-run

  • nwslfan

    Nilla Fischer was a POY finalist. She is so big and strong nd deceptively fast. Fischer brought her A game against USA. On the Sweden goal, the fact that Schelin got position on Rampone was astonishing- the ball was deeper than the pair and Rampone was not positioned goal side – shocking mental error by Rampone.

    Also, Press looked physically strong and tenacious, which I had not seen much before. This is quite promising. I hope USA schedules some real matches and not cupcakes. I hope China and France are strong opponents.

    • D23

      Fischer is a brilliant defender and I think the best CB in the world. How I would love Australia to develop a CB like that. We have real attacking strength but just bleed goals (but I digress). You are right. Rampone must have lost her because Schelin was easily in front of her. But you can’t expect a defence to always be perfect, that’s why you need to score goals.

      • Guest

        Renard is the best CB and so very young still. Fischer is a recent convert to CB. That was a Pia change which has worked out great for them. She was playing like a top five in Euros and now Algarve. I wonder how good she could have been had she converted earlier in her career.

        • Steglitz49

          Her fiery temper has been her achilles heel. It seems that Pia and Ralf between them have taught her to control her temper and channel it into something productive.

      • Steglitz49

        I would dismiss the RB and CB. That goal was as inept as the one Japan let in though not half as amusing.

        Everyone is baying for the blood of the attackers. Let’s also get rid of defenders who can’t hack it.

        • D23

          Krieger has been consistently the one of the best, if not the best US player over the last several months. She made one mistake and kicked a ball into an opposition player. I get that you don’t like Krieger but that logic is ridiculous. Drop an in form player who made one error but otherwise had a good game in the context of a terrible performance by the midfield and forwards. That makes no sense and no one else here is baying for their blood because they can actually see that.

          • Steglitz49

            It was more of a sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander type comment. It is easy to hack down on attackers because their missed chances or failure to pass are obvious.

            Many commentators on The Equalizer begrudge Syd any credit for her goal against Japan. I can see their point although I contend that Syd contributed to and earned that goal. At the same time it was a ridiculous goal-keeping error.

            By the same token Krieger’s mess-up with Jakobsson was inept. Likewise, the CB’s failure to with Lotta, who is not as fast as she was 3 years ago. They are just not as obviously slapstick and hilarious as the Japanese goalie but pretty naff nevertheless.

            If we honestly believe that we have fresh talent for the defense then we must cut some of the current players and give the new their chance. This match gives TS carte blanche to spring clean. He must take it.

          • Calci0

            In short, I want Krieger somewhere on the roster for WC15…..

          • Steglitz49

            The NWSL, being such an even and high quality league, will give TS his answer. From that he will select next year’s Algarve squad,after which he will make his final cut.

  • SBFan

    Is it at all possible or probable that Abby will recognize that she is no longer capable of playing at her old competitive level and do the hard thing – hang up the boots and head for the commentator booth? As much as she is a fierce competitor, she is also a player of years of experience and has seen others face up to their aging and move on. She must see that it would make TS’s job easier and that it would open the door for younger talent if she can no longer contribute on the field. Do what is best and leave on a high note rather than a low. Maybe at the end of the NWSL season or after the early 2014 friendlies? I believe Rampone has said she is considering such and it taking this year to see how her play holds up. Maybe Boxx as well after she delivers and considers returning.

    • newsouth

      and wambach response is, i have to get a conditioning coach.

    • en_observation

      it doesn’t help that sermanni says in the press that she will be an integral part of the world cup squad. now that sounds like he’s just playing to a US audience and definitely not reality. unfortunately abby can condition all she wants but unless it comes with a time machine, it won’t matter.

      • NYRick

        :–) Time machine. Hysterical.

    • Guest

      There is the impression she can turn it on for big games. That is what is said when she isn’t at game speed in Friendlies. Playing in a tournament against your old coach when you must win to make it to the finals seems like a big game though. Where did the on button go?

      Finishing can just not be with you for a game or two, but hustle and fight needs to be. We saw what energy looks like in the last fifteen minutes when she was off. Where there is a will there isn’t always a way after a certain age. And unlike in other sports without sub limits it isn’t easy to age and assume a different role on a team with depth like ours. Especially when the whole team must adjust to you when you are on the field.

      Let’s just say the compressed NWSL season + travel + Friendlies will be telling this year. She was fresh as a daisy for the Sweden game or should have been. She won’t get this much rest leading into a game again until September.

    • AlexH

      It isn’t Abby’s job to make TS’s job easier. If she wants to fight for a position then more power to her. What would make TS job easier would be if anybody not named Alex Morgan stepped up and delivered against top competition. If Leroux, Press or A-rod were carving up the opposition then the Abby problem would sort itself out very quickly, but nobody is exactly covering themselves in glory.

      • newsouth

        the problem is, they can’t score a goal in EVERY game. unless they have an 1 to 1 ratio, they will get labelled “unable to pull the team through tough times”, so this nonsense goes on and on. did neid wait for a forward to do that before she pulled the string on prinz? this is an uswnt culture thing, or even more an american thing where the fading star even when he or she is hurting the team won’t let go or step. you see this in the nba and nfl all the time, and at the end of the day the coach ends up getting kicked to the curve. ops, i forgot the women soccer players are too perfect to go out fight and kicking and pull a power move. i will reduce my practices to play more 90 mins games, or i need a conditioning coach because i can’t run and jump anymore. that has to be a first for the NT.

      • wosofan

        Hey, with Wambach’s fitness and performance lately, I think she’s made a pretty strong case for reduced minutes. Abby’s done the “hard work” for Tom already. Not seeing much “fight” from her this winter. She’s obviously shown up to camps without adequate conditioning.

  • ROOTchino

    Reactions have been posted:

    http://youtu.be/VIfBl9CYT8c

    • nwslfan

      thanks for posting. Apple -what an great nickname- look forward to seeing more from her! Congrats to Apple and Sam on their first caps, btw.

    • wosofan

      Love the leadership and confidence from the Captain. Lot the enthusiasm from the new players.

    • newsouth

      i like how she played with press. they were sick. unfortunately, she’s a younger version of wambach with better wheels. in order for her to get on the roster, wambach would fall to #5. i’m not sure if i’m correct but i’d have hagen, tymrak (why is she playing with the u23s?) and courtnall (why mewis II instead of her?) developing for 2015. the options would be endless with her, press, morgan and sydney (she’s still a ruff draft.).

      • guest

        courtnall as a few good games and now she’s the second coming? please. she couldn’t make the 2015 wc squad

        • newsouth

          she could beat out mewis, cox and kling (who had problems with sweden given her lack of speed). their backs (rampone, dunn and ohara) still reply on their wheels and recovery ability. she’s a perfect fit with 15 months of training. next?

          • guest

            “could”. you have no idea. courtnall is nothing but speed either. no better than anyone else. but keep telling yourself your delusional lies

          • newsouth

            LOL.

          • wosofan

            newsouth, I’m not going to give you a hard time for championing your favorite players. I tend to do the same thing. One thing to consider, though, regarding Courtnall: as much as she has the athleticism to play international soccer at the highest level (and perhaps even dominate most forwards), the relevant question is whether she can she manage to handle the ball consistently while under pressure. Look at the way some of the top teams, Sweden and Japan, put pressure right on the ball when it goes to the outside back. And if you consider a player like Crystal Dunn — as much as she, like Courtnall, is a great athlete with speed and quickness and strength — she would not get near the USWNT camps unless she had the ability to move the ball consistently, under pressure. Relatedly, can she consistently get crosses in, while on the move. So, consider the possibility that Courtnall is not at that skill level yet (and I’m not saying she cannot get there with more time).

            The other thing: every time you ask or question why Sermanni has not called her into the full team, please consider the possibility that her allegiance is to Canada, not the US. She played for the Canada U17s in the past. I have not seen some sort of clear declaration that she would like to play for the USWNT someday. She was not called into the US U23 camps recently, which would have been a much easier way for her to start getting into the “pipeline” for a USWNT call-up, so please consider the chance that she hasn’t told US Soccer that she’d like to be included in their program.

          • newsouth jr

            Daddy you have some weird fetishes.

          • newsouth

            it’s much easier to spam my bigsoccer account since i log-in. i still have about 100 of your BS messages in it. if i was you, i wouldn’t touch words like fetish, lunatic, etc.

        • guest

          Courtnall is a good college player. Nothing else. Why newsouth has pegged her to be the next Roberto Carlos I have no idea.

          • Steglitz49

            Aya Miyama is the female Roberto Carlos.

            We have seen it with our own eyes — even if USSoccer edited her out.

      • guest

        lol press is a selfish player who wants to be the center of attack and is unwilling to work with others up top. everything has to go through her and she doesn’t know how to incorporate her teammates

  • David R

    I find it curious that in all of this condemnation of individual players and BOTH coaches, that no one has mentioned something even the Eurosport announcer (Sue Smith) commented about.

    It’s very likely the US team play was so uncharacteristically uninspiring was due to the fact that US players just AREN’T used to playing under such field conditions. Sue, who besides being a member of OUR national team, has (in the past) also been chosen for the FIFA XI team, so I respect her opinion on the subject. She pointed out that it’s not rain that’s hard to play in, it’s high wind! More importantly she pointed out that they were playing on real (NOT artificial!) grass that had been cut too long. Between the wind and the grass (neither of which US players are familiar), you could see have slloowwwly the ball travelled when passed or kicked. Even the great Hope Solo couldn’t manage a midfield punt against that stiff breeze! This disruption in the timing MUST have had an effect on the team’s rhythm.

    • Steglitz49

      Excuses, excuses, excuses. Yawn.

      • David R

        With that yawn, you have earned my TOTAL contempt. I will NEVER again answer favourably to you again.

        If you think you know more about playing football than Sue Smith, one of the best midfielders in the world, you are SADLY deluded.

        • guest

          Ignore Steglitz. Nobody like him. He’s annoying. Trust me when people talk about how bad the Equalizer comment sections are he, Newsouth, and Rick are the first three mentioned.

          • David R

            I did a quick check and found he had already been banned from the WSU’s website, so I’m wondering how much longer before it happens here as well.

  • wosofan

    Is there any chance that Kassouf or any other major woso journalist will consider taking a crack at an opinion or analytical piece sometime this year that starts to assess the potential World Cup roster, and specifically, raises questions about veterans’ roles? I suppose when the roster for qualifying is named, that will give folks an opportunity to speculate about how that roster relates to the eventual World Cup roster. On the men’s side, we see Steve Groff and seemingly dozens of soccer journos opine weekly about the prospects of players making the MNT roster for Brazil. Will there be anything comparable for the USWNT?

    I just wonder if all this chatter among fans here on this website is the type of stuff that will never get raised by a woso journalist. I think it it takes some courage to really ask serious questions about legends like Rampone, Boxx, and Wambach. Much easier for anons (me included) to do so, than to actually go on record with opinions about these WNT legends.

    To me, the Boxx story would be a near miracle: late 30s, suffers from Lupus (makes her lose energy), knee surgeries, childbirth, no matches played since April 2013, intense tournament schedule, summer heat, and possibly on artificial turf. And she’s a midfielder, expected to cover a lot of ground. Hollywood couldn’t have done a better story.

    • newsouth

      rampone is still a functional backup. no one has seen boxx to make a call on her. the BIG issue is wambach. do jeff or any of the other journalists have the balls to make the call in writing? she’s in prinz’s 2011 form and there’s no coming back from that. the current mid-fielders specialize in her game. someone just made a post about another vacation cup next. if they are still playing 10-20 min subbing with press and sydney, the team will have a massive train wreck in the world cup. someone should be calling wambach out on the conditioning coach nonsense. i see jeff and the writing are ignoring that b######t

      • Evevic

        I agree with you. Players form and fitness are intensely scrutinized on the men’s side all the time and why not the women. I was recently reading about journalists debating whether Jozy Altidore or Clint Dempsey should be starters in their current form. I think that’s far and valid and they should be doing the same about players like Abby Wamback and Rampone heading into 2015. There should not be a double standard.

        • AlexH

          There is no double standard. Despite their lousy form and the associated scrutiny Jozy and Clint are still playing, and will still be on the plane to Brazil. TS and Jurgen may or may not be dumb asses but they are singing from the same hymnal with regards to playing their old guard.

          • Evevic

            You maybe incorrect. Both Jurgen’s and TS’s job depends on their decision making. If Altidore and Dempsey continue to under perform, I think Jurgen is bold enough to keep them on the bench judging by the way he kept Landon Donovan off the roster despite a tough qualifying stretch. Juergen can’t leave them home because he doesn’t have the luxury of having a deeply talented team as TS has. No one who follows the game thinks the US men are better the Germany or Portugal; but if they get embarrassed I think Juergen will be looking for a new job. On the other hand, TS has very little room for failure. He’s coaching the # 1 team and great depth at every position. His player selection is crucial because anything else than a worldcup victory means he’s looking for a new job.

            But you should retread my post. You failed to address the part about sport journalists having to be consistent in their scrutinizing and criticizing the game of soccer players of both sex. I haven’t seen in the women’s game. Maybe next year closer to the worldcup.

      • guest

        Yawn. Why don’t you get off your lazy ass and stop being an armchair coach?

        • guest

          This miight be the silliest comment I’ve ever seen on this site. Armchair coaching is what everyone here does ad nauseum.

      • Pressteria

        YES CHRISTEN IS THE GREATEST PLAYER. SHE NEEDS TO GET EVERY MINUTE. BETTER THAN ALL THE OTHER PLAYERS COMBINED. 11 GOALS IN 17 MATCHES. IF SHE STARTS, SHE WILL GET 3-4 GOALS A GAME EASY.

    • Reality

      It’s a classic problem that any journalist must face when they are critical of the establishment. How will that affect their access to the major players, news sources and information necessary to remain relevant. It does take courage to buck the party line that is promulgated by those who have the power. But sometimes if one does it successfully, others will follow and suddenly there is an alternative to the established wisdom.

      The NT is undergoing a time of transition which creates insecurity and defensiveness. It also creates opportunity since change is inevitable. The normal order for life in general is for the older generation to eventually yield to the younger. It can be done in a graceful and constructive manner where everyone will benefit or it can be very messy and full of denial, recrimination and resentment. Rampone is making the adjustment. I suspect that Boxx after a brief re-audition will also acquiesce. The main obstacle to transforming the NT is Wambach. The basic pattern of the offense is rigged to her. Nothing will substantively change for the better as long as she is the centerpiece. The fundamental question is what combination of circumstances will bring about her abdication.

  • luke

    Found Moe’s pass I liked so much in Japan match, nothing too fancy, but shows awareness and accuracy (34:16 mark at 480pix):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=lsy2_X-uaGQ#t=2056