U-20 World Cup: USWNT v. Germany Preview

September 6, 2012

With the U-20 World Cup at stake, the U.S. U-20’s will face off against rival Germany early Saturday morning. The game will be televised at 6:20 a.m. ET on ESPNU and streamed live on ESPN3.

Here are four thoughts heading into the game.

Cari Raccaro and Julie Johnston must be the center back pairing

As the saying goes, “You don’t change horses midstream.” However, in the last game of group play, just ten days ago, Germany crushed the U.S. 3-0.

One change that came out of that game was the inclusion of Cari Raccaro into the starting lineup. And since that happened, the U.S. backline has looked much more composed.

In the first U.S.-Germany matchup in the group-stage, Kassey Kallman was used to partner Johnston and Kallman was not effective. With Johnston and Raccaro both having fantastic tournaments, the U.S. has a much better chance against Germany this time around.

The U.S. needs to consider switching formations

Germany is clearly the best team in the tournament. After winning all three group-stage games scoring eight goals for and conceding none (including Germany’s 3-0 win over the U.S.), Germany has gone on to defeat Norway 4-0 in the quarterfinals and host Japan 3-0 in the semifinals.

If the U.S. attempts to go into the game with the same static 4-3-3 it has been using, the final scoreline could be ugly.

While U.S. head coach Steve Swanson has rotated a cadre of forwards up front throughout the tournament, the only two who have stood out have been Maya Hayes and Kealia Ohai.

Kelly Cobb and Katie Stengel do not have the pace required to play as center forwards at this level of competition and Chioma Ubogagu has an awful first touch and no composure in the attacking third.

Instead of forcing another forward into the mix, Swanson should consider playing a 4-4-2, or a 4-5-1. Either formation would give the U.S. a bigger presence in the midfield helping to stifle the Germans, while still setting the U.S. up to be effective on the counter.

If a 4-4-2 was used, Ohai and Mayes could be partnered up top. If a 4-5-1 was used, Samantha Mewis could be inserted as the attacking midfielder underneath either Ohai or Hayes with the other played wide.

Samantha Mewis should be starting

Samantha Mewis has seen appearances in four of the U.S.’ five games, but came off the bench in all four appearances. In 117 minutes of playing time, she has amassed three assists. That number is higher than any other player on the U.S. roster, even those who have played all 480 minutes.

Mewis has fantastic composure on the ball in the attacking third and makes very smart decisions on the ball. She has a phenomenal ability to see space and has a great understanding of how to break down a defense. She also weights her passes very well, as she did perfectly to assist Kealia Ohai on the game-sealing goal in the semifinals.

The backline is peaking at the right time

Besides the fine play of Johnston and Raccaro in the center, outside backs Crystal Dunn and Mollie Pathman did well in the semifinals to keep the pacey Nigerian attack in front of them.

Dunn has been outstanding all tournament long, especially with her ability to effectively join the attack. Pathman had a particularly good game in the semifinals against Nigeria, only clearly getting beat once.

Both will need to play well again on Saturday for the U.S. to come away with the championship.

John D. Halloran

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4 Responses to U-20 World Cup: USWNT v. Germany Preview

  1. Elizabeth on September 6, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Great points. Just to mention, Sam Mewis has 3 assists (not 4) so far in the tournament. Still amazing considering her playing time.

    • John D. Halloran on September 7, 2012 at 6:04 am

      Thank you for catching the mistake. I fixed it.

  2. DE Dupuis on September 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    I watched the Nigerian game again, and was impressed by how unimpressive Hayes was.

    Ohai and Mewis are the real deal, they have the touch, the work rate, and the creativity to give anyone problems. I’ll be using the film from the second NIgerian goal for some time as textbook examples of how to find the penetrating pass from midfield, how to pick your run as a striker, and how to finish with composure in the box – goals don’t get much better. Of course it helped that the Nigerians were baked by that point.

    Dunn is super, completely dominating on defense and one of the better offensive threats, she seems to be the fastest player on the team by some.

    Johnston is very tough and essentially mistake proof, with a few less pounds she is Rampone’s replacement – Dunn is ready now.

    Still, with these young women, its the team, particularly the back 7 plus Ohai.

    Beating Germany will be an accomplishment.

    • John D. Halloran on September 7, 2012 at 6:09 am

      I would agree Hayes was not at her best against Nigeria. By this point in the tournament, she has to be getting pretty frustrated. She comes back, wins the ball, lays it off, makes her run…. and ….. never gets the ball back as it is lost by the midfield. I think if they give her a go at center forward, she will show her quality a little more. Her and Ohai are the only two who can hold the ball up front. Everyone else either doesn’t have the pace to get to the ball (Cobb/Stengel), or don’t have the technical quality to hold onto the ball (Ubogagu).

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