USWNT discover choices, present versatility vs. Sweden, France as Olympic prep continues


As we inch nearer to the summer season Olympics — dare I say, even in a whisper, I really feel assured it’ll certainly occur — I’ll, in fact, spend a variety of time dissecting the U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce. Given the roster measurement for the Olympics is simply 18 gamers, my utterly unscientific dissection will solely intensify as we get nearer to June.

However I digress. Let’s return and evaluate the 2 most up-to-date video games the USWNT performed in Europe: their 1-1 draw vs Sweden in Stockholm on April 10, and their 2-0 win over France in Le Havre, France on April 13.

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Coach Andonovski: Sweden draw ‘good for us’ forward of Olympics

Vlatko Andonovski, USWNT head coach, got here into this two-game European swing understanding it might be the hardest take a look at his facet would face main into the Olympics, and the U.S. got here to Europe with a 15-0 win/loss file beneath Andonovski, essentially the most wins by any U.S. coach to start out their tenure. Till Sweden, in fact. (Why does it at all times should be Sweden?)

Sweden had totally different plans for this U.S. workforce. Solely by the grace of god (aka there was no VAR getting used), the U.S. girls have been gifted a penalty within the late levels to salvage a draw. As an alternative of what ought to have been a free-kick exterior the penalty space, Megan Rapinoe as an alternative positioned the ball on the penalty spot… and everyone knows how that present ends.

All in all, Sweden performed an incredible recreation. Clear, tactically stable and defensively glorious, they matched the U.S. stride-for-stride for a lot of the 90 minutes. If Kosovare Asllani & Co. had been a bit extra medical in entrance of objective, they might have secured the win. The U.S. did out-shoot Sweden 20 to 9, however simply by no means discovered their rhythm. They weren’t as technically clear as we have seen them previously, particularly within the remaining attacking third.

The excellent news for the U.S. (past equalizing, in fact) is that this back-and-forth recreation was a beautiful (and at all times wanted) reminder of the work that also must be executed. These reminders, particularly when comparatively bruise-free, are items in life.

The opposite excellent news? This was the primary of two video games, which gave the U.S. an opportunity to handle a number of the shortcomings in opposition to France. As Andonovski identified after Saturday’s tie: “It’s not adequate… not adequate to win the Olympics. It is a good factor for us. I do not get up wishing we do not do nicely, however nonetheless you’re uncovered to one thing we hadn’t seen earlier than… We are going to deal with it going ahead.”

Properly, deal with it they did. In typical U.S. vogue, the gamers extracted the lesson from the Sweden recreation and introduced a renewed power and focus to the conflict with France. (One factor to recollect: this was basically France’s B-team.) They have been lacking six of their Lyon stars resulting from a latest COVID-19 outbreak on the membership, which means key gamers like Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Amel Majri, Sakina Karchaoui and Delphine Cascarino have been unavailable. Sure, that hurts. In addition they didn’t begin Sandy Baltimore or Kadidiatou Diani, two standouts from their very own win vs. England days prior.

Baltimore got here on within the second half, although Diani by no means noticed time on the sphere. Additionally, PSG star and main scorer in Ligue 1, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, solely performed the primary half. In actual fact, solely two French starters remained from that traditional quarterfinal conflict in Paris on the 2019 Girls’s World Cup. Distinction that with 10 of the beginning 11 for the US. The one starter lacking for the U.S. from that recreation was Tobin Heath, nonetheless out with an damage. France fielded a younger and proficient facet, sure, however not practically the French workforce we’re accustomed to seeing.

The U.S. bought off to an amazing early begin (precisely what they did not do in opposition to Sweden) and have been swiftly up 2-0 due to Alex Morgan. Morgan drew a PK in solely the fifth minute, which Rapinoe in fact calmly transformed, after which Morgan herself completed a fantastically slipped-in ball from Christen Press, within the nineteenth minute. From there, the U.S. by no means appeared again.

France sat in a low block a lot of the recreation, exhibiting such little urgency within the second half that it appeared as if the U.S. have been the workforce down two objectives. In full command, the U.S. even had an opportunity to strive one thing they’ve by no means executed earlier than: usher in all 4 midfield stars collectively. Sure, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsay Horan and Rose Lavelle lastly bought to share the sphere, and full disclosure: I beloved it. Lavelle performed up excessive on the best facet and was very lively coming inside. I’ve questioned of late if the 4 might play in a diamond, or if Horan might play as a false 9. There are many choices, and the promising level is that it provides the U.S. one other layer of versatility.

For some remaining excellent news, of us, we formally have a subject of 12 groups who’ve certified for the Olympics. The 12 groups, in alphabetical order, are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Nice Britain, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, USA and Zambia.

Say it in a whisper… I CAN SEE THE LIGHT.



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