The U.S. Women’s National team has amassed a grand total of four points and three goals. They were shut out in a poor offensive showing against Sweden and were lucky to get two goals against a stout Australian side.
Despite the fact that they are in a good spot in the proverbial “Group of Death” and nearly everyone would take these two results before the World Cup even started, this team has issues. Like, I-never-thought-I-would-say-the-men’s-team-is-better-than-the-women’s-team issues. And they all happen to fall on the offensive side of the ball.
Watching the American team on the attack has been incredibly frustrating. To put it this way, it’s been far more frustrating than watching (well, for me it was following on Twitter) the men’s Round of 16 match against Belgium last year, and that’s saying something. Control of possession has been an issue for them in this tournament and when they have been able to settle it down and get chances, they either dribble it to much or just flat out mess it up.
The biggest example might come from Megan Rapinoe. The hero from the first match, Rapinoe struggled mightily in the match against Sweden and it was primarily because of herself. Time after time she would dribble it too much and the Sweden defense would be there to sniff out the chance and clear the ball.
But the issues are more than just Rapinoe. While the United States has a number of attacking options in Abby Wambach, Alex Morgan and Sydney Leroux, getting the ball to those players has been subpar at best. Neither one of those players have scored a goal and to be honest, neither one has really come close to scoring a goal as well. Morgan is coming off of an injury, but Leroux and Wambach have to get into dangerous positions and get the ball to put fear into opposing back lines to be effective.
Also, the Americans have to do a better job of their service into the box for Leroux and Wambach. Too many times through these first two matches, the U.S. has come through the middle. While that’s not necessarily a bad tactic in general, doing that over and over makes it easy for opposing defenses to pack it in and clear the threat, especially when the play in the final third has been as bad as it has been. Going forward, the U.S. has to get the ball out wide on the wings and swing in the ball from there, forcing the defense to make quick decisions and using that height advantage. Everyone remembers Wambach’s 122nd minute goal against Brazil four years ago that came off a cross. More of that please.
Of course, there’s still time for all of this to improve and the United States does sit in first in the group and controls its own destiny to win the group. And really no one team in this tournament has shown that they are the outright favorites to win it all.
But if the Americans want to win their first World Cup since that memorable moment in 1999, that offense has got to get a whole lot better than what it is now.