Monday, June 29, 2015

Women's World Cup - U.S. vs China

The United States won this game 1-0 thanks to a Carli Lloyd header in the 51st minute, but this game was really never in question.  The United States dominated from start to finish, thanks in large part to the spark created by the addition of Amy Rodriguez, Kelly O'Hara, and Morgan Brian into the starting lineup as a result of Rapinoe and Holiday having to sit due to yellow card accumulation.

A-Rod had a horrible shank that should have been a goal in the 2nd minute and a few offside calls against her because of her eagerness to push forward and push forward as fast and as hard as possible.  O'Hara was equally disruptive to the Chinese midfield and defense.  Brian had a few rough touches at times (something I've seen others accuse of Holiday), but overall, was very solid in her defensive midfield role, thereby allowing Lloyd to push forward. Heather O'Reilly was freed from the bench and played well too.

In a game that really never felt in doubt, more of a "when" the goal happens and not "if" the goal happens, I'm not going to talk about it much.  Except to say that this was the type of game that the U.S. needed to get some of their mojo back.  They looked impressive at all positions and with much more pace and effort than has been visible during the rest of the tournament.

With that in mind, how do they move forward against Germany?  Nearly everybody has said that Holiday is the team's best #10 and that Rapinoe is one of the most creative on the team. Yet the team looked markedly different with them watching from the stands. Markedly better.  So do you play your best players or the ones who are playing better together?  Or was the lineup against China the perfect one against that team, but won't be as effective against a team like Germany?

Tony DiCicco correctly stated during the broadcast that Carli Lloyd is a streaky goal scorer and is one of the most talented midfielders in the world when she's on a streak. How do you take her out? I don't know how you keep Rapinoe and Holiday out, but does O'Hara, Brian, and Rodriguez's efforts go unrewarded by sitting them back down on the bench?

Personally, I put Holiday back in for Brian and let O'Hara and A-Rod start against Germany.  Let them continue to press the German defense like they did against China. They're basically rested and hungry. By doing so, maybe they can release both Holiday and Lloyd together to not have to drop back so far to help the back four.  Then I rotate Press and Leroux (who is also hungry to play in Canada) in for Morgan or A-Rod and Rapinoe in for Heath.

I've been saying that a lot though. Use the team's depth and speed at the forward position (and no, Wambach is no longer included in that) and run the German defense ragged.  With the spectacular play from the United States' defense, release the midfield and forwards to attack, even against the number 1 in the world (and most offensive) team in the tournament.

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