freearod

7 things I took away from uswnt v. France

I could write some big rant on uswnt with Ellis at the helm, but I won’t. Mostly because I did that already. Instead, I’ve decided to write some specific problems that were seen on the pitch during this game. 

(Edit: whoops, it became even longer than a rant :| )

1.) For all the touting we do on player depth, we don’t really have it. 

The typical attitude us uswnt fans have had is that we’re so stacked, that our bench could be it’s own starting 11. But lately we’ve seen that when the first choices aren’t there, the team doesn’t seem to have a convincing stand in. It’s not entirely their fault, a lot of these players seem to barely get minutes. #FreeArod is a hashtag a lot of fans will tweet during games, and this is for a player we’ve already seen on the NT many times, let alone a young player with a world of potential like Julie Johnston. Remember when US Soccer made a video that suggested the torch would be passed to JJ? With Rapinoe injured, Ellis’ saw Carli Lloyd as the replacement out left. If you had eyes, you saw how well that worked out. Meanwhile Tobin Heath who played an entire Olympic tournament & starts for PSG on the left side played on the right side, even though HAO is there & ready to go. Matter of fact, no midfield player played in their natural position (where they play well enough to merit being called up in the first place) This is as if Pep Guardiola decided to play Bastian Schweinsteiger out wide on the right, instead of just putting Arjen Robben there. And guess what? I DON’T CARE ABOUT TOBIN HEATH OR ARJEN ROBBEN BUT SOME THINGS IN THIS WORLD JUST MAKE SENSE. We went from boasting about how much depth this side has to saying the reason we lost today was because of the many key players unable to play today. 

2.) We have absolutely no plan B

Okay, this is kinda piggybacking off my last point, but uswnt have no plan B. Look at the above picture. Hope Solo is there, then there’s three very capable keepers who could make a good argument for being starter if Hope Solo wasn’t in the picture. Well, with Solo’s legal troubles, that’s whats happening right now annnnd…. we have absolutely no idea who the heck is our #2 goalkeeper. Jill Ellis & company seemed to have never thought of having to play a keeper other than Solo & leading up to this France game, there was no idea of who would actually start & it was only because of fans on twitter that people even knew key things, like the info that Ashlyn has/had an injury she was recovering from. How can the people actually in charge of this team be less prepared for situations like this than the fans are? Ashlyn ended up being the keeper, and my problematic Solo loving self will say it, if that game went the same exact way but you had Solo in goal, France would’ve still won 2-0. But that’s not where it ends. When what they were doing clearly didn’t work against France, uswnt had no answer, no readjustment. Not even something as simple as just moving Carli into the middle where at least she may produce a goal. Well, there was a plan b if you count Abby coming on and reverting back to long balls and crosses into the box in the hope of another Abby header. Against Brazil, uswnt were being outplayed and again had absolutely nothing to respond with. Against Trinidad & Tobago, the game was a mess & they never changed. They just simply kept trying to make something that didn’t work try to work for 90 minutes. 

3.) Impatient to build a dynasty, we want it overnight

Let’s talk about the Germans right now. No, not the women. Let’s look at the mens team that just won the World Cup. Go look at the squad Germany had for the 2006 World cup.

*waits for you*

Not bad, right? Okay, now look at their 2010 squad.

*wait for you again*

How bout dem Germans, amirite. And of course their 2014 squad was good enough to win the World Cup. Now here’s the thing: Germany has been working for that World Cup win since the year 2000. 14 years. It almost sounds like a plot from a movie. “In June of 2000 Germany finished dead last in its group at the European Championship. They scored one goal in three games, losing to Portugal 3-0 in their final match.” after that, they recognized something had to be done to restore the greatness in a former 3 time World Cup country. Where did they start? Youth. 

“After the 2000 Euros Germany poured all its resources into producing great players starting at the grassroots level. In February of 2001 the Bundesliga made it mandatory for all 18 top-flight professional teams to run a youth academy — essentially a school for promising soccer players, with teams and coaches going all the way down to the under-12-year-old level. Later, academies became mandatory for all 36 professional teams in the top two German divisions.” (x)

The players developed because of this all played a part in the winning the World Cup. Players like Toni Kroos, Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mats Hummels, all of these players were developed in Germany, went through the youth system, & made it to the top flight in Germany & all became key players. Matter of fact, other than only 2 players, this entire squad went from a German youth team to a top flight German team. Many legends came and went, but they all made way for younger players, whether by retirement or no longer being called up, to let the team keep growing. In the years Germany have been waiting to win a World Cup again, Lahm & Schweinsteiger went from new faces in the team, to the captains & veterans of the team. Only 2 German players were over 30 in the 2014 squad, & one (Klose) only played partial games when needed, & the other was there as back up keeper to Neuer. If a team this talented and stacked with endless talent had to go through this long process to reap the rewards down the line, why do we expect something similar to happen overnight? We have in no way worked to build this team through player development, it’s more that we’ve waited for legends to finally retire, to finally make way for younger talent. Julie Johnston has pretty much become the posterboy for this problem at the moment, but it’s happened with many players. Players like Tymrak, who impressed when called up, suddenly never get called up again. Instead Shannon Boxx was back on the bench again. Instead of giving JJ any minutes in the concacaf WWC qualifying tournament, we saw what Rampone could offer to the team for every game. Lindsey Horan, a player so good she goes right from high school to PSG & who is one of the best strikers in France playing against French players, won’t even get a look cause she won’t play in NWSL. While players like Brooks & Hagen left a perfectly good situation in Germany to come play for Tom Sermanni, only to see him fired and in his place a coach who seems to let the veterans dictate the moves. Our youth has a glass ceiling and it has for years and years. For every Alex Morgan we are able to find, who knows how many potential world class players we’ve lost in the process. Tom Sermanni was starting this new age for the team, but was cut short. 

In 2011 I was absolute gutted for this team. I watched Japan celebrate in disbelief, as if I was waiting for some obscure FIFA rule to somehow make it so that the game wasn’t really over. I wanted that team to win the cup so bad, they all absolutely deserve a World Cup. In 2015 it looks like almost that exact team will get a chance. As they say, be careful what you wish for. 

4.) Denial of current situation 

When Real Madrid got dismantled by Atletico and lost 4-0 recently, players apologized to fans for the game and vowed to come back strong, while the coach flat out said they “failed at everything.” Brutal honesty. That was for one bad game.

With a string of less than convincing performances, this team would have you believe it’s all fine. It’s only a minor snag. Just need a little more time to adapt. If one or two players were available it would’ve been fine, it was only this one time, next time it’ll be different. They’re our crappy boyfriend that’s promising to make things different this time. Victories over rather weak opponents have masked how much work this team has to do. And to their credit, the players are so individually talented, that we should pretty much be utterly horrible at this point. Even on commentary Julie Foudy was making excuses for the team, with Michelle Akers doing likewise on twitter. It’s like a weird cult where you’re not allowed to criticize the team and must drink the kool aid. Certain fans, like the ones still reading this, care enough about the team that you just had to see them play a top team for one reason: How will they perform? Will USWNT show us to have faith after all or will it be a disaster? Well, the score of 2-0 doesn’t look horrible, but the overall 90 minutes was just very poor from this team. It was the kinda day where you don’t score even after you get a penalty. I liked how Press & Morgan played together and would like to see it more, Broon played great, & Ashlyn put in a good showing despite the two goals. Other than that, everyone else had a pretty bad game. And they had 3 weeks to prepare for France. This was 3 weeks of preparation we saw. I take no credit away from France, but USWNT could’ve played better. Much better.

5.) Fixing things that aren’t a problem & not fixing things that are a problem

Okay, maybe I’m just being a super fangirl here, but someone please actually tell me why Kelley O’Hara isn’t left back. SERIOUSLY. PLS ACTUALLY TELL ME. DID I MISS SOMETHING? I FEEL LIKE I MISSED SOMETHING. 

Jill Ellis has a weird way of looking at things, because we’re looking for leftback while KO watches on the bench. If you’re a Kling fan over a KO fan, fine, then just have Kling at leftback. Why did we call up Chalups after all these years just to play her in a position she never played in? Right away she was being targeted by France and it was clear she wasn’t able to keep up with their pace, with Broon having to come in and cover to save the day many times. France ultimately got two goals by beating Chalups, one with a cross that ended with a header that Kling couldn’t defend, two players beaten for a goal that wouldn’t have been there had Jill not put them there otherwise. While you can blame Chalups, you also can just say the truth: she isn’t a leftback to begin with. Just the same way that Cheney wasn’t a great defensive mid in this game. Because she isn’t a defensive mid at all. Jill Ellis has been trying to force circles in square pegs since she became head coach, so much so that we even get things like Abby being the number 10. Imagine if Germany didn’t play the likes of Götze or Özil at the 10 role, and instead put Klose there, because that’s what it’s basically like. 

Everyone was shocked when Sermanni was fired. Fast forward a year, and this team is so much worse off than the team that apparently was so bad that it justified being fired. Who knows the kind of team that Sermanni could have built by now, but it’s hard to imagine that it wouldn’t be better than this. Jill came and changed the tactics, the formation, started talking about these new fancy things we’re doing now. Only problem is there has been nothing new. All the new innovations are basically just playing the same we have been forever and ever and being presented as some brand new thing. 

6.) The competition isn’t catching up. It’s caught up. And may be passing us by soon…

No more needs to be said here. USWNT need to be careful, otherwise the 99ers are still the only thing we’re gonna be celebrating in 20 years.