U.S. Women’s World Cup team mediocre once again

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The United States Women’s National Soccer Team has played four games so far in the World Cup and three of those have resulted in mediocre performances. At some point we have to accept this may well be all this year’s squad is.

Megan Rapinoe (YouTube)
Megan Rapinoe (YouTube)

After a scoreless first half against a Colombian squad that dictated the pace and controlled the ball for most of the final 20 minutes, the U.S. managed to find the back of the net twice in the second half for a 2-0 victory. However, if it were not for a 47th minute red card against Columbia’s goal keeper, it’s likely this match would have gone on to over time.

The American women continue to rely on an attack centered around the combination of Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan. The problem with this reliance is it continues to result in a lack of willingness by others to take over the game.

The United States has shown a consistent inability to control mid field play, be creative in tight spaces, or do much more than rely on long balls and set pieces. It will take much more than this if they are to advance any further than their quarterfinal match Friday against China. In fact, a U.S. loss from this point on should not surprise anyone.

To add to these problems, the American women did not help their cause with both Lauren Holiday and Megan Rapinoe picking up their second yellow cards which will result in them automatically being suspended against China. Rapinoe was perhaps the only bright offensive player for the U.S. squad in the first half and her ball handling skills will be missed against China. Holiday, on the other hand, has largely been a non-factor and her absence could actually help if the U.S. were to switch from their 4-4-2 alignment and use a 4-3-3 against China.

Another concern has to be Wambach. While she still presents challenges to opposing teams, it is clear she is playing conservatively with the idea of saving herself for later matches. However, she does her team a disservice doing this and would be better off playing a hard 60 minutes and sub out than a conservative 90 minutes. Her lack of energy has spread to the rest of the team and it seems there is an over reliance for either Wambach or Morgan to wake up the rest of our girls.

After Wambach missed badly on a penalty kick against a goal keeper who did not have a chance to warm up, it seemed Colombia was destined to bring out the worst in our girls.

Colombian goalie Catalina Perez tripped U.S. Forward Alex Morgan, resulting in a red card and ejection for Perez and a penalty kick for the U.S. squad. (YouTube)
Colombian goalie Catalina Perez tripped U.S. Forward Alex Morgan, resulting in a red card and ejection for Perez and a penalty kick for the U.S. squad. (YouTube)

Thankfully, Alex Morgan woke up and took matters into her own hands in the 53rd minute. Her powerful shot at the near post struck the Colombian goalkeeper’s hand so hard that it still managed to find the back of the net. Twelve minutes later, after Megan Rapinoe was taken down inside the goal box, Carli Lloyd put the game away with a penalty kick.

Still, it took playing with a one player advantage for the final 43 minutes for the American women to look like a good, not great, team. They will need to be much better against the likes of a more disciplined Chinese team on Friday.

While our defense continues to shine and shut out the opposition, there has to be the confidence that if another team scores first against us, our girls can rise up and come from behind. As it is now, this is not the case.

Perhaps we will see a different alignment against China in Friday’s quarterfinal. At the very least, we will see at least two new starters. However, if they can not jump start the American attack, we may not have to worry about a semi final match.