Monday, October 27, 2014

Cup-Bound

Let us now catch up with what they USWNT were up to this weekend. Nothing much, just clinching a World Cup place with a win over Mexico and then Wambach-ing Costa Rica for the CONCACAF crown. Ho-hum.








- Greg Seltzer

2 comments:

brian said...

now if we can just get those uniform short a wee bit shorter.. you know to increase television ratings.

John Luck Pickerd said...

Congrats to the USWNT! A tourney the women needed to control, which they did for large portions of the matches they played. Very happy to see the defense playing at a higher level--producing fewer turnovers, better marking and spacing, minimizing chances.

Much of the post tourney talk--props to the great job by Fox to analyze the US-Costa Rica game--focused on the need for a midfield destroyer to thwart creative attacking threats coming from the midfield.

However, I think Jill Ellis faces a larger problem: how best to integrate two separate offensive systems. It seems like Wambach plays, the attack becomes focused on using Abby's abilities as a target forward to create chances. More balls are played into the box, knowing that if the ball gets to Abby, she can create a scoring chance via a header or pass. (Wambach is the best target striker in all of soccer, regardless of gender.)

The team also has great speed and movement in Heath, Morgan, Leroux, Press, ect. Focusing the attack on these players encourages a more dynamic attack that is less reliant upon a single strategy (crosses into the box for Abby) and utilizes the ability of a fast, agile set of forwards.

There is no reason why Abby cannot be played with Morgan and others--such lineups have been used successfully in the past. However, it seems that the US attack becomes Wambach-focused when Abby is on the pitch and less able to utilize the skills of other players. I think this is more of a mindset: against Costa Rica, the first option seemed to be find and chip the ball into Abby. Ellis needs to encourage the team continues to play technical, dynamic ball while still relying on the physical talent of individuals such as Wambach. Given Abby's age and experience, I think she might be best used off the bench, as this might be the best way to get the most out of the rest of the squad.

FWIW: when the USWNT focuses on technique and dynamism in attack rather than long balls and winning aerial battles, this allows our midfield, which features a number of players who can strike from distance, a chance at open looks around the top of the box.