Contibuted by Michael Saunders.
It's crunch time and the USA does not disappoint. Perhaps it was the American Outlaws leading the entire stadium in singing an emotional rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner that motivaated the team; but no doubt the 2-0 win was well earned. Yet the score did not reflect the supremacy the US squad had over the Lionesses. Dominating with a high press 4-3-3 formation, the US should have scored a few times in the first half, England could barely get the ball off their back line and were offering far too much space all around their defensive third. It wasn't a question of would we score, but when and how many.
The US finally broke through in the 53' when Press scored a highlight reel goal from outside the penalty area. Lloyd fed a pass to Press, who turned and sent a magnificent bending right-footed shot into the upper corner past England's goalkeper Carly Telford. Lloyd doubled the score in the 56' off a scoop pass from Lindsey Horan., The "cheeky" chip found Lloyd just inside the box who assertively executed with two quick touches and a strong volley.
Still the game was not all "rosy" for the USA. Even with the one-sidedness of the match. England exposed our defense more than once, Sauerbrunn had an off day with one glaring giveaway that could have cost the team a goal against. Dunn was caught out early in the match, staying forward with Parris behind her. Fortunately, Sauerbrunn cleared the ball., As time went on, one realized that the high press exerted by the wingbacks was purposefully done relying on our center-back coverage to thwart or clean up passes that went into space behind them.
Clearly both wingbacks stifled the wing play of the opposition. Dunn confimed the fine tuning introduced by Vlatko by her forays up field. She specifically won twelve (12) challenges, with near 45% occurring in England's half of the pitch Her passing was mostly clean by a 2 to 1 maring although an argument could be made that crosses into the opponent's penalty area could have been sharper. Still I would rate her as a strong 7 out of 10.
The post-game press conference wtih Vlatko was revealing. No longer did we hear the English press asking questions about a rivalry being formed. When asked about his team's superior play, Vlatko responded with a dead pan voice noting that the US team views every game as a challenge, not taking any team for granted. To that point, he emphasized that during his team de-brief of today's match, every player expressed that they could do better; a fact that obviously pleased him. The only concession he gave to the media when asked was his admissioon that from his perspective, Julie Ertz has become the most indispensable player on the US Team.
Now on to Red Bull Arena for the game against Spain who easily defeated a disappinteing Japenese squad 3-1. Spain is my "dark horse" who I envision breaking into FIFA's Top 10 ranking this year. They must not be taken lightly.
Authored by Michael Saunders.