The United States Women’s National Team defeated Canada 2-1 on Saturday afternoon in the team’s Olympic send-off match held at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
The result follows a great string of victories for the USWNT following recent victories over Sweden and Japan.
Here are eight thoughts from the game.
Pia Sundhage Announced “her best XI”
The NBC announcers repeatedly said that Sundhage had claimed the starters of Saturday’s game were “her best XI”.
Most of the choices were predictable, especially after the team’s recent friendlies against Sweden and Japan, but the one choice that would be debatable would be the selection of Tobin Heath over Heather O’Reilly.
To be fair, even though they play the same position, they are not similar players, so a direct comparison is difficult. While Heath is more of a technical, and cheeky, player, O’Reilly’s game is built much more around speed, power and runs down the flanks.
Megan Rapinoe Had an Amazing Game
Rapinoe announced early in the game her intention for an all-out effort when she was nearly decapitated in the first ten seconds trying to get on the end of a service into the box.
Throughout the game, she played like a woman possessed, taking on defenders without fear, driving into the middle and working hard to provide service to the forwards.
Some of her best moments included megging a Canadian defender to win the endline and one sequence in the corner when she beat three Canadian defenders dribbling them in circles.
Rapinoe created the opening goal with a world-class service into the box behind the Canadian defenders which they bungled into their own net, put Alex Morgan in behind the Canadian defense on at least two occasions and provided Abby Wambach with at-least two gilt-edge chances laying the ball across the box.
To top the game off, Rapinoe provided the service for the game-winning-goal.
The Game Certainly Wasn’t Very “Friendly”
Although a “friendly”, the game between these two rivals included a number of crunching challenges.
Rampone was taken out by Christine Sinclair, Shannon Boxx and Kelley O’Hara were both booked for challenges, Abby Wambach was body-blocked in the box in the 67th minute which went unnoticed by the official and Canadian forward Laura Sesselmann’s shorts were literally ripped in half.
Kelley O’Hara Had Another Good Game at Left Back
The transition of Kelley O’Hara from an attacking player to a left back has gone remarkably well and is something that Pia Sundhage should be given credit for.
O’Hara, again, went forward very well, provided great service with her left foot (even though she is naturally right-footed) and at one point launched a terrific blast from just outside the 18 as she drove forward from her defensive position.
The conversion of O’Hara has gone so well that it makes one think…
Heather O’Reilly or Amy Rodriguez Should be Converted to Right Back
Ok, it’s a little too late to be making this switch and the conversion of O’Hara started over six months ago, but it has become increasingly obvious over the past year that Heather Mitts is no longer a strong enough option as a back-up outside back to Amy LePeilbet and Kelley O’Hara.
As soon as Mitts was introduced, Canada found the equalizer down her side of the field. This problem is even more pronounced heading into the Olympics because the roster size is only 18 players, instead of the usual 23 players for FIFA events. At some point in the Olympic tournament, the U.S. is going to need a third outside back.
With the U.S. depth at forward and attacking mid, one of these two attacking players could easily be sacrificed to provide some depth, and speed, to the backline.
O’Reilly’s effort is unmatched, and her service from an outside back position would be tremendous.
Rodriguez’s speed also makes her a strong candidate, and even though she scored the game-winner against Canada as a forward, it was obvious, in only a fifteen minute time-span after she was introduced, that Sydney Leroux is a much more dangerous attacker.
Hope Solo is Ridiculously Good
Solo is the only female goalkeeper in the world that could have made this save which came in stoppage time of the first-half.
Alex Morgan Hurt Her Knee
Shortly into the second-half, Alex Morgan went down from what looked to be a fairly innocuous challenge.
At first, it looked like she hurt her shin, but as the trainers were eventually called to the field to give her assistance, it became obvious her knee was the problem.
After being brought to the bench, Morgan was seen on the bench with her head in her hands, a feeling that made many USWNT fans sick to their stomach.
In fact, the only thing that can currently stop Morgan, arguably the best forward in the world right now, is an injury.
USWNT officials later told various sources that Morgan was pulled out of the game for precautionary reasons and it is thought the injury is not serious.
Kudos to NBC for Putting the Game on their Main Channel and Providing the Game in High Definition
John D. Halloran