Monday, August 6, 2012

Strange Brew

In addition to gut-wrenchingly playing what seems sure to be the match of the tournament, the USA-Canada extravaganza was a two hour seminar on the state of the game in this country.

Alex Morgan, now with wings. Credit: KQED

The future kept the U.S. alive. Megan Rapinoe is my woman of the match. Tobin Heath is a close second. It's no coincidence that the Americans' best opportunities came from wide positions. Those two covered miles of space, popping up left and right, picking off second balls that allowed the U.S. to control as much of the game as it did.

That said, more of the game should have been controlled. The center of the park was too often no man's land, predictably forcing the American attack wide. There Canada only had to worry about which way Morgan, Rapinoe or Heath would cut to deliver a cross. Of course doing so while marking the most dominant aerial presence alive, Wambach, is no small feat. The strain did take its toll on the Canadian defense.

It was not until late on that the U.S. was able to camp out in the middle of the Canadian attacking third. And therein lies the rub. Part of that initial struggle came from sloppy lay-off and controlling touches. Morgan is as guilty of this as any midfielder. Too many first half turnovers happened it transition. For a team whose greatest advantage remains speed and strength, such faults are crippling.

Still, timeless grit kept Christine Sinclair from scoring a fourth. And by game's end the U.S. advantage in endurance had the Canadians ground into a digestible long-balling pulp. Rapinoe and O'Reilly had no trouble working the ball outside in. Finally Sundhage's squad had cut its way into the angles it need to down Canada. 

So when Heather O'Reilly whipped in the game-winning cross for Baby Pegasus many of you jumped and shouted with unbridled joy. I did too. This team has heart in spades and that cannot be overstated.

But this team also came to London with only one thing on its collective mind: a gold medal. That very same team has less than three days to recover from a gloriously brutal match to take on the most buzzing and technical side in the women's game. Just as they did last season, Sundhage's charges will have the physical edge.

Yet only with a full-on housecleaning of the technically-deficient play that prolonged Canada's hope can Team USA truly expect to avenge last summer. Japan is one team that we cannot simply outlast.

- Jacob Klinger


Mr. Will said...

I have been saying this since last summer. At some point, a team's play should evolve, but we are still relying on athleticism like the Mia days. We need to be better.

Jacob Klinger said...

Oh, I'm by no means being original here. Just needs to be said. Isn't this why Sundhage was brought in?

dikranovich said...

well, when you go up against a team like japan, you better have some serious athleticism.

Jacob Klinger said...

Of course, but athleticism is a constant of our team. It's an expectation that's almost always met. That's why I'm much more concerned with our technical ability. Japan's is at such a level that we cannot simply outrun and outjump them. A better technical display couple with a comparable physical one is required.

Patrick said...

Morgan can create goals and Heath and Rapinoe are tireless. But the team can't string 3 passes together through midfield. I don't know if the game has passed Lloyd by or she is deep covering for a poor defense. She would just boot the ball blindly up the pitch. I think the team is even less technical than in the Mia days. It actually shows more when they have a lead and are trying to close out a game.

Unknown said...

Sadly we're all right. Worse yet, I think the replacement for Lloyd is Boxx. And I don't think she's a technical improvement.