USWNT explore options and show versatility against Sweden and France as Olympic preparation continues

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As we approach the Summer Olympics – dare I say, even in a low voice, I’m confident that will indeed happen – I will of course be spending a lot of time dissecting the U.S. Women’s National Team. Since the roster size for the Olympics is only 18 players, my completely unscientific dissection will only intensify as we approach June.
But I digress. Let’s go back and review the last two USWNT games in Europe: their 1-1 draw with Sweden in Stockholm on April 10 and their 2-0 win over France in Le Havre, France on April 13. .

– Rapinoe and Morgan score as USA beat France
– USWNT Granted Working Conditions Settlement
– Coach Andonovski: Sweden shoots “good for us” ahead of the Olympics

USWNT head coach Vlatko Andonovski entered this two-game European swing knowing it would be the toughest test his team would face before the Olympics, and the United States came to Europe with a 15-0 win / lose record under Andonovski, the most wins for an American coach to start their tenure. As far as Sweden, of course. (Why does it always have to be Sweden?)

Sweden had different plans for this American team. It was only by the grace of God (i.e. there was no VAR used) that the American women were given a penalty at the end of the stages to recover a draw. Instead of what should have been a free kick outside the penalty area, Megan Rapinoe instead placed the ball in the penalty spot… and we all know how this show ends.

Overall, Sweden played a great game. Clean, strong tactically and excellent defensively, they matched the United States’ stride for most of the 90 minutes. If Kosovare Asllani & Co. had been a little more clinical in front of goal, they could have taken the victory. The United States beat Sweden 20-9, but simply never found their rhythm. They weren’t as technically clean as we’ve seen them in the past, especially in the last offensive third.

The good news for the United States (beyond the equalizer, of course) is that this back-and-forth game was a wonderful (and still needed) reminder of the work still to be done. These reminders, especially when relatively bruise-free, are a gift in life.

The other good news? It was the first of two games, which gave the United States a chance to remedy some of the shortcomings against France. As Andonovski pointed out after Saturday’s draw: “It’s not good enough… not good enough to win the Olympics. It’s a good thing for us. I don’t wake up wishing we weren’t doing well, but you are exposed to something we had never seen before… We will fix it in the future. “

Well, answer it, they did. In typical American fashion, the players learned from the game against Sweden and brought renewed energy and focus to the clash with France. (One thing to remember: this was basically France’s B team.) They were missing six of their Lyon stars. due to a recent COVID-19 outbreak at the club, which means that key players like Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Amel Majri, Sakina Karchaoui and Delphine Cascarino were not available. Yes, it hurts. They also didn’t start Sandy Baltimore or Kadidiatou Diani, two standouts of their own win over England days earlier.

Baltimore came on in the second half, although Diani never saw the time on the pitch. In addition, the star of PSG and top scorer in Ligue 1, Marie-Antoinette Katoto, only played in the first half. In fact, there were only two French starters left in this classic quarter-final clash in Paris at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Compare that with 10 of 11 starting for the United States. The only starter missing for the United States in this game was Tobin Heath, still injured. France have fielded a young and talented team, yes, but not close to the France team that we are used to seeing.

The United States got off to a great early start (exactly what they didn’t do against Sweden) and were quickly down 2-0 thanks to Alex Morgan. Morgan drew a PK in just the fifth minute, which Rapinoe of course converted calmly, and then Morgan herself completed a beautifully slipped ball from Christen Press in the 19th minute. From there, the United States never looked back.

France sat in a low block for most of the game, showing so little urgency in the second half that it looked like the United States were the two-goal drop team. At the helm, the United States even had the chance to try something they had never done before – bringing together the four midfield stars. Yes, Julie Ertz, Sam Mewis, Lindsay Horan and Rose Lavelle finally got to share the pitch, and full disclosure: loved it. Lavelle played high on the right side and was very active on the inside. I’ve been wondering recently if all four can play in a diamond, or if Horan can play like a false 9. There are a lot of options, and the promising point is that it gives the United States another layer of versatility.

For one final piece of good news, my friends, we officially have a field of 12 teams that have qualified for the Olympics. The 12 teams, in alphabetical order, are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Great Britain, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, USA and Zambia.

Say it in a whisper … I CAN SEE THE LIGHT.

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