It’s nice, at least on a relative scale of nice, to possess a federation that is ready to fill the calendar because of its women’s national group in a non-tournament yr. USSF took almost every FIFA windowpane to routine a women’s friendly (although probably they could have permit one slide offered the timing against the NWSL period), and even ran two mini-tournaments this year. Many additional WNTs are not really blessed with the same degree of involvement or financing, Canada included in this. The flip part of that is not every single game the USWNT takes on can be an absolute banger, and indeed it’s an oft-cited criticism of the WNT they have a awful tendency to take up fluff opponents, with apologies for some of these opponents. This series against Canada gave us mostly hearty stuff to digest, but also descended into fluffier territory as in the end Canada stated “screw it” and subbed in a pack of uncapped teenagers to have them their first flavour of high-level international soccer, making it so the USWNT closed out the year punking a couple of kids. Here are a few of the items we learned from addressing compete against both First Choice Squad Canada and Rebuilding Its Youth System Canada.
Ellis’ converted fullbacks aren’t ready yet
Jill Ellis seemingly took on the task of converting Sofia Huerta and Chioma Ubogagu into fullbacks and then promptly didn’t provide them with any game period at all against Canada. At least Huerta played a complete 90 against South Korea; Ubogagu was called in and apparently discovered unready during camp evaluation (to be likely for Ubogagu at least, given her usual placement at forward). Probably Ubogagu could have gotten field period against a not as much stout opponent than Canada, but the simple fact remains that Ellis deemed them both as well risky to play.
The fact that this was Canada surely factored into that, on two levels. One, Ellis didn’t feel comfortable testing her brand-new players against a tougher opponent. And two, Ellis particularly didn’t want to reduce to Canada. The rivalry between your two nations (could it be really rivalry if one group simply beats up the additional team all the time?) has created an extra degree of expectation for triumph on a near-fundamental level from much of the fanbase and from Ellis’ overlords at US Soccer. A loss to Canada in either video game would have spurred a tiny avalanche of thinkpieces on the theme of “WNT crisis: Ellis out?” By doing so, Ellis is not as free seeing that her counterpart John Herdman to truly risk losing in trade for testing brand-new players. Seem at Herdman’s subs in the next game: a couple of 16-year-olds with Ariel Small and Jayde Riviere in the 71’, and 16-year-older Jordyn Huitema in the 60’ for Christine Sinclair. John Herdman was ready to remove his most valuable piece from the plank to see what a high-schooler with five caps could carry out, knowing total well that further subs would only available the team up to yet even more dogged attacks from the US.
To be fair to Ellis, she certainly looked ready to lose in trade for testing data during the SheBelieves Cup previously this year, and lose we did, specifically giving up three goals against France. And of course, as head instructor, it’s Ellis’ prerogative to judge any person she thinks could gain the team, just as it is usually her prerogative to deem that person unfit or unready. At least for Ubogagu and Huerta, they weren’t staying dragged back and forth between their golf club and the NT given that NWSL is usually in the offseason, therefore it’s much less though this was especially disruptive for them. Actually, probably it’s a prelude to actual period, either in January throughout a FIFA windowpane or at the next SheBelieves around March. But unless they were just therefore unsteady during camp examining concerning make it evident neither one would endure against Canada, it appears like a missed opportunity to administer a truly high-pressure test. For Emily Sonnett – sorry about that round-trip Australian flight, kid.
Alyssa Naeher is #1 in Ellis’ eyes but shouldn’t be
Alyssa Naeher is not performing to peak Alyssa Naeher capacity. Anyone who viewed the Boston Breakers when she was nonetheless their goalkeeper can attest to her sometimes startling capacity to take up clutch for 90 mins. But during her NT performances in 2017, she’s built some questionable decisions and had some genuinely rough moments, usually linked to when and how she picks to come off her brand. Naeher sometimes looks like somebody who’s been advised to be bolder in complicated for the ball, but hasn’t been instructed how and doesn’t find out if her defense covers for her either. Component of it is that Naeher found some sort of nagging injury during the NWSL period and has just been playing through it the last month or two. And part of it certainly does seem to be to be mental; after all, injury doesn’t account for the discombobulated communication between Naeher and her defenders. Still, she’s #1 in the GK pecking purchase at the moment.
Ten minutes with Jill Ellis ahead of #uswnt training with media. Tidbits:
-mins for Naeher reflect she’s number 1 1
-even so space for Krieger/Kling in this program, no spots locked down
-called up Ubogagu for all natural lefty, outside returning profile – Meg Linehan (@itsmeglinehan) November 11, 2017
But based about the last few a few months of performances, Naeher should still be getting challenged for that #1 spot and for some reason she’s not. Ellis’ supervision of her additional GK’s mins is confusing at greatest, irresponsible at worst. She in fact split halves between Ashlyn Harris and Jane Campbell against South Korea and then didn’t give any time to Harris, Campbell, or A.D. Franch against Canada. You can’t argue that Ellis just wants to find Naeher under difficult conditions for more than one video game or that she needs Naeher and the protection to get familiar considering that Naeher played all three Tournament of Nations games against Australia, Brazil, and Japan, where time the trunk line was basically the identical to the Canada games.
Listen, I want you to comprehend how painful it is to be declaring that Naeher doesn’t look like the US #1 at this time. Longtime Boston Breakers enthusiasts like me all carry a squishy soft spot within their hearts for Alyssa Naeher for just how she trapped her chin out and soldiered on during probably the most unpleasant years of the team’s existence. And she actually is still a good goalkeeper who is stable on positioning and distribution. But something is usually keeping her from going total Naeher and until Ellis and Co. figure out what that is usually, perhaps the remedy isn’t to retain sticking her in goal again and again without respite.
Our midfield disappeared in to the pressure
We didn’t really learn that one so much as most of us saw it with our own eyes, but it’s worth pointing out, because Ellis appears to be transitioning away from the Carli Lloyd/Allie Long attacking midfield that used to dominate the formation while she deepens the overall midfield pool and lastly lets Ertz take up higher about the pitch (reminder and caveat: Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle, several crucial midfielders, were out for these games).
The setup with Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, and Sam Mewis was pretty fun against New Zealand and South Korea, teams that allowed defensive/positioning players like Ertz and Mewis to roam a bit more without consequence. But especially in the first video game against Canada, they placed getting shut out from a blend of high pressure, bad surface, and their very own awful possession. Mewis and Horan had been often just flat-out bad within their movement in the next game, failing to provide passing channels to help slice through the Canadian midfield and press the protection, resulting in turnovers that placed the teams slugging it out in the centre. Should this be considered a warning that Ertz-Horan-Mewis isn’t actually practical against a high-pressure group? Well, type of. It’s a midfield that doesn’t really have a true playmaker in it; Ertz-Mewis-Lavelle will be something rather interesting to find, with Horan moved bigger. And honestly, if Sam Mewis had had a better moment for either video game, it probably wouldn’t have already been such a deadlock for such a long time. Ertz and Mewis are likely to be two important midfield pieces through 2019 as soon as many people are healthy again, they’ll involve some good depth.
Thus that’s it. Another yr for the USWNT, done and dusted. The group didn’t exactly head out out on a higher note, but neither does they end on a particularly low one. The WNT may enjoy again as soon as January, according to the FIFA windowpane, but probably the next real check will be SheBelieves some time around March. Until then, stay warm and dream of a wholesome Rose Lavelle.