The USWNT defeated Scotland 3-1 on Wednesday evening in Nashville to keep their record under new head coach Tom Sermanni perfect.
Abby Wambach fittingly scored the game-winning goal in her 200th cap.
Here are five thoughts from the win.
Whitney Engen played well in her first USWNT start
In her first start with the USWNT, Whitney Engen was given the start at center-back alongside veteran Rachel Buehler.
And, although Scotland cannot in any way be considered a world football powerhouse, Engen did well with her opportunity.
With Captain America, Christie Rampone, a good bet to retire before the 2015 World Cup, the U.S. desperately needs depth at the center-back position. Engen certainly did well enough on Wednesday to earn another opportunity.
Sermanni has wisely used his first two games in charge to experiment with some new players for the USWNT, using these friendlies to help identify and get some experience for players that may help the team as it rebuilds over the next two years.
Sydney Leroux’s pace troubled Scotland all night, but…
Sydney Leroux gave the Scottish back line fits on Wednesday as she consistently found space in behind and also put together several dazzling runs on the dribble.
However, despite her beautiful assist on Abby Wambach’s goal, Leroux struggled to put together a complete effort. Her services were off the mark on more than a few occasions and her shots were often taken when she was off-balance.
There’s no doubt that Leroux is an important piece of the USWNT puzzle going forward, but she still has some work to do to become a truly elite striker.
Starting at the 1:18 mark, Leroux’s fantastic dribbling can be seen–followed by an off-balance shot. That sequence is immediately followed by her inch-perfect assist to Abby Wambach for the game-winning goal.
Is Megan Rapinoe the most creative women’s player in the world?
Megan Rapinoe finished 10th in the 2012 Ballon d’Or voting, but her goal on Wednesday night proved once again that Rapinoe can do things that no other female player in the world can do.
In the 21st minute of the match, Rapinoe took down a ball in the area and used the outside of her right boot to bend the ball around the defender and into the goal.
It was the type of shot that only a handful of players (male or female) would even attempt and took a degree of composure that only the truly elite possess.
Rapinoe’s goal is at the 0:28 mark
Reminiscent of the quality of her service to Abby Wambach against Brazil in the waning minutes of the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals, or her rocketed shot against Canada in the Olympic semifinals, Rapinoe may be the single most creative player in the women’s game today.
Christen Press continues to impress
Pardon the quasi-pun, but in two games Olympic alternate Christen Press has scored three goals and picked up an assist, contributing to 2/3rd’s of the U.S.’ offense over those two games.
The development of Press at Goteborg over the past year has been tremendous and may force Sermanni to adopt a three-front to accommodate Press, Wambach, Alex Morgan and Leroux into the lineup on a consistent basis.
Press, of course, can also play on the wing if needed, but competition there with Megan Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Heather O’Reilly will also be fierce.
The emergence of Press as a viable attacking option may also mean the end of Amy Rodriguez’s international career.
Press’ goal can be seen at the 2:32 mark.
U.S. Soccer – I appreciate the live stream and all, but…
One of the most entertaining, or frustrating, things about Wednesday’s match was the announcer on the live stream. He spoke largely in basketball, football and hockey terms like the “defensive zone”, the “shooting lane” and using slang like “and now the Americans go to work.”
He also mispronounced several players’ names and even pontificated about whether Christen Press, who grew up in Los Angeles and played collegiately at Stanford, had ever played in cold weather.
Apparently, it’s much warmer in Sweden than I thought.
John D. Halloran