4 thoughts from the USWNT series against China and the Fan Celebration Tour

December 15, 2012

The USWNT finished off their ten-game Fan Celebration Tour on Saturday night with a 4-1 victory over China, finishing the tour with a final record of 8-0-2.

The U.S. opened the scoring on an Abby Wambach header from a sick flick from Alex Morgan in the 18th minute.

Then, in the 36th minute, Megan Rapinoe took advantage of a mistake by the Chinese keeper to drop a 40-yard bomb in for the second goal.

In the 63rd minute, Wambach again got on the scoresheet with a fantastic header in traffic which she put off the post and in on a nice serve from Megan Rapinoe.

Finally, in the 87th minute, Sydney Leroux thumped home a header to wrap up the scoring.

Here are four thoughts from the match and the Fan Celebration Tour.

Right-back continues to be an area of concern

Over the last 12 months, perhaps no position on the USWNT has been as repeatedly exposed as has right-back.

The most usual suspects for the USWNT at right-back have been Amy LePeilbet and Heather Mitts, neither of whom has outstanding speed or the requisite attacking skills to truly be a world-class outside back.

Whitney Engen remains a possibility for the position, as does youngster Crystal Dunn, but there may also be some untraditional choices already on the U.S. roster.

Christie Rampone was a collegiate forward who scored 79 goals in 80 games and could be moved out wide should the new coaching staff decide Becky Sauerbrunn deserves to start in the middle. Rampone is a terrific 1 v. 1 defender and her speed would allow her to bomb forward and still be able to recover defensively.

Sydney Leroux was used a right-back in one of the Fan Celebration Tour games and looked ok, but is probably too valuable as a substitute up top.

The other choices could be Amy Rodriguez or Heather O’Reilly, two players who will continue to struggle for first XI minutes in the future, but whose skill sets make them potentially great defenders.

Both have very good speed and attacking instincts and could probably be taught in a relatively short time how to play the position.

The name for the new women’s league and the league’s logo was announced at halftime

The new women’s professional soccer league will be called the National Women’s Soccer League, not exactly an original name.

The logo also looks almost identical to the one used by WPS.

Their Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/NWSLsoccer and their Twitter handle is @NWSL_soccer.

There was also a report that came out just before the game on Saturday night that Hope Solo and Alex Morgan were not yet committed to playing in the new league.

It’s disappointing, but if they can make big money overseas, it’s hard to blame them.

Unlike their male counterparts, who have multi-million dollar club contracts, the women of the USWNT essentially are playing for the love of the game. If, God forbid, they ever sustained a serious injury, they will not be retiring rich.

Let’s applaud U.S. Soccer and Sunil Gulati for the Fan Celebration Tour

First off, U.S. Soccer should be given a huge round of applause for putting together this ten-game Fan Celebration Tour. It was great for fans in ten cities to be able to go out and see the team play and attend open training sessions.

The tour was a great opportunity for fans to show their appreciation towards the players and vice-versa.

If you want to thank Sunil Gulati personally, his e-mail address is skg21@columbia.edu and he does read and respond to respectful e-mails.

It’s time to move forward

While I’m appreciative of the tour, I’m also ready to see what’s next for the USWNT.

There are so many new variables with the new coach and lots of potential new players, that I’m excited to see both who Tom Sermanni calls into the next USWNT camp and how some of the new youngsters integrate themselves into the squad.

I’m particularly excited to see some of the U.S. U-20’s get their first call-up, particularly Crystal Dunn, Kealia Ohai and Julie Johnston.

I’d also like to see some of those who narrowly missed the Olympic roster such as Christen Press, Meghan Klingenberg and Whitney Engen as well as former U.S. U-20 and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lindsey Horan.

John D. Halloran

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2 Responses to 4 thoughts from the USWNT series against China and the Fan Celebration Tour

  1. Anon on December 15, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Don’t forget about Ali Krieger returning from injury in regards to the right back situation. I would think that almost three years is enough time for Sermanni and company to come up with a fix.

    I think the interesting developments for the future will be, one, the status of aging players such as Rampone and Boxx, and two, what formation Sermanni favors (he hasn’t indicated that he has a preference yet but surely he will find some more favorable than others). I think the defense could be a bit shaky if the veterans move on, particularly Boxx, who it seems we don’t have a true replacement for as a holding midfielder, at least not on the Olympic roster. It seemed like Cheney and Lloyd struggled a bit when together in the center of the midfield. Perhaps a new formation could help, as it seems opposing defenses typically outnumber us in the center of the field.

    I would like to see a lot of the young/fringe players get to go to the Algarve cup. I think getting them playing time in actual games will help them improve and help the people in charge get a feel for the playerbase, although certainly the NWSL will help with this as well. Still, I’d have to think international experience is a bit different.

  2. John D. Halloran on December 16, 2012 at 6:37 am

    Good point about Krieger. By the time the team gets together again, it will have been over a year since she’s been with them. Seems like forever.

    I agree that Boxx is going to be the most difficult player to replace. I’d like to see Julie Johnston get a crack at the holding mid. She’s young for such an important position, but is strong in the air and good in possession – a good combination for that position.

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