USWNT Shows Resilience in Win over France

July 25, 2012

In a tough opening match for both teams, the United States Women’s National Team was able to grind out a hard-fought 4-2 victory over a tenacious French team to open up Olympic play.

The win puts the USWNT at the top of Group G and in a strong position to win their group with their toughest opponent now behind them.

Here are five thoughts from the game.

The U.S. victory is worth more than 3 points

Besides giving the United States three points to open up group play, the win over France most likely will help the USWNT avoid world-champion Japan in the quarterfinals.

The victory showed the U.S.’s fighting spirit

The first 20 minutes of the U.S. win was a series of the disasters for the USWNT. Not only did the U.S. give up two goals in the first 15 minutes, putting itself in an enormous hole to start the match, it also lost midfield stalwart Shannon Boxx to a hamstring injury.

However, the U.S. fought back from this horrific start getting both goals back before the half on a header from Abby Wambach and a nicely finished volley from Alex Morgan, before taking control of the game in the second half and finding the win.

U.S. possession improved a lot after the half

In the first half, the U.S. struggled to keep the ball and the French did well to knock the ball around and create plenty of chances for themselves. Most troubling was one series between the 35th and 40th minutes in which the French created three gilt-edge chances for themselves and the U.S couldn’t seem to get a touch on the ball.

However, after the half, with no changes made from U.S. manager Pia Sundhage, the U.S. did much better holding the ball, knocking it around their backline, using their midfield width and generating chances from build-up play rather than long drives up the field.

The U.S.’ depth shone through

The game-winning goal was scored on a tremendous strike from midfielder Carli Lloyd, who has not started the last three games for the U.S. In fact, Lloyd was only brought into the game after Shannon Boxx was forced to leave the game with a hamstring injury.

With the U.S. able to bring world-class players like Carli Lloyd (who had the game-winner in the 2008 Olympic gold-medal game) into the game off the bench, the U.S. proved once again it has the depth needed to carry it out through a tough tournament like the Olympic Games.

Because the Olympic tournament is so compressed, with a team reaching the finals required to play six games in 16 days, and the tougher Olympic roster restrictions, with each team limited to 18 players rather than the normal 21, the depth the U.S. has on the bench could certainly be the edge the U.S. needs to bring home gold.

Alex Morgan gave the French trouble all day

Morgan scored the equalizer on a nice half-volley finish in the 31st minute after the French defense allowed the ball to drop in behind their backline.

She tallied again in the 66th minute to put the game away on a tap-in by being in the right place at the right time.

In addition to the two goals, Morgan was also taken down in the box on two separate occasions (in the 44th and 60th minutes) resulting in two dubious no calls, both of which could have easily been penalties.

John D. Halloran

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2 Responses to USWNT Shows Resilience in Win over France

  1. DE Dupuis on July 25, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    It really was a good victory – if for no other reason than there were a few little problems.
    OK, the French are just darn good in attack – but even so, our veteran (O’Hara aside) defenders looked a bit shakey.
    We generally conceded the middle of the park – and this is the whole problem with a 4-4-2 when played with wingers – French players in the middle of the field could move with the ball and get their heads up routinely, which put a whole world of pressure on our back line. Switching to a 4-3-3 would solve this problem by making our midfield more compact and letting it keep its shape more naturally.
    Solo got her hands on both goals – “best in the world” keepers usually like to save balls they can touch.
    Still and all, in our starting XI plus Lloyd we have no weak links, we were clearly fitter, they believed in each other and the team, and our players are just better. If we play France again, I think we will have less trouble with them, not more. We look that deep and strong. Of course, Morgan and Rapinoe must stay healthy – everytime Alex gets chopped down I can’t look.
    OK I give up, why would Arod come in before Laroux?

    • John D. Halloran on July 26, 2012 at 7:29 am

      French looked dead in the 2nd half.

      Was shocked that A-Rod came in. Even more confused that right after that they put Leroux in and moved A-Rod back to outside mid. I wonder what Heather O’Reilly was thinking at that point? If Sundhage had put Leroux in for Morgan, she could have made a straight switch of O’Reilly for Rapinoe rather than having to move everyone around.

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