Jeff Kassouf7 minute read
Laia Codina, in his debut for Spain’s senior team, opened the scoring in the 39th minute after the United States twice failed to clear a corner kick that landed in the area. Real Madrid star Esther Gonzalez He added the dagger with 18 minutes left with a sweet volley after floating between three unmarked American defenders.
With the 2-0 defeat later fall to England a day earlierThe Americans have suffered consecutive losses and have conceded multiple goals for the first time since 2001.
1. USWNT panic comes early in this cycle
American coach Vlatko Andonovski said he wanted to schedule these England and Spain matches for the October window to resolve some of the team’s problems well before the 2023 World Cup. Two losses five days apart exposed many of them.
They mark the first consecutive losses for the American women since the 2017 SheBelieves Cup, when they fell 1-0 to England in New Jersey three days before an embarrassing loss. 3-0 loss to France in Washington, DCwhich officially put an end to Jill Ellis’ 3-5-2 experiment.
This time, it was a loss to Spain followed by one to England (both away from home), and the combination of poor performances with the context of Spain fielding a second-choice team, makes this a low point, at least from the last year’s Olympics, and perhaps during Andonovski’s tenure.
It’s a familiar sentiment, though, if American fans are looking for a point of optimism. In 2015, the United States suffered a 2-0 loss to France in Lorient to open the calendar year. That friendly answered questions from the staff and is an overlooked element in the team’s 2015 World Cup triumph. Four years later, it was the same story: a 3-1 defeat at Le Havre to open the year and eventually the United States won the World Cup, including a quarterfinal victory over France in Paris.
For the same pattern to be maintained in this cycle, a lot needs to change. There are both individual personnel issues to address and broader questions with the system.
Of course, the United States was missing several starters in both games and had to resort to the bench in positions such as fullback. And without a doubt, the weight of The Sally Yates Report. and the continued fallout within the NWSL weighs heavily on the players.
All that context is necessary. Still, the United States looked poor against Spain, and that needs an immediate correction against Germany at home twice in November.
2. The USWNT midfield is invaded again
England completely controlled the midfield in Friday’s 2-1 victory over the USWNTpinging the ball around the Americans and playing with great composure in the face of high US pressure.
On Tuesday, Spain weathered the initial high pressure and played with its characteristic style – even without most of its starting players – and soon found the game and clogged the midfield, forcing errant passes from Lindsey Horan and greatly isolating rose lavelle.
The biggest question mark about this American system as a whole is in the midfield. It’s not a new question: the midfield has just been subjected to its two toughest tests to date, and was severely outperformed in both.
Horan struggled against Spain from a deeper position and Lavelle attempted to carry much of the attacking load, eventually moving up to full-back when Ashley Sanchez He entered the game in the 64th minute. andy sullivan still carries the burden of playing a defensive midfield role that was so uniquely performed by Julia Ertz in the previous cycle. Ertz cannot be replaced (a conversation had ad nauseam at this point), certainly not by one person.
Is it time to change systems? Could Sullivan and Sam Coffey – or any other potential option – combine to provide more coverage in a double pivot? Even if so, how can Lavelle (or catarina macariowhen healthy and if in that role: get more build support if more resources need to be allocated to defensive midfield roles?
An X factor here is Sam Mewis, who hasn’t played all year due to a knee injury that started out being described by US Soccer and Kansas City Current as minor, but ultimately sidelined him for all of 2022. Mewis is another box-to midfield option -box that can help address multiple deficiencies of the United States right now. He emerged as one of the best players in the world between 2020 and 2021.
None of these questions are easy, and moving away from the 4-3-3 has long seemed like an unthinkable solution. This 4-3-3 became the defining modern US system in reaction to that 2017 SheBelieves Cup disaster, when France destroyed the treble and it became clear to everyone that something drastic needed to change. The back-to-back losses, even with the concession that important pieces were missing, make this a very similar moment.
3. A great result for young Spain, with caveats
Spain comes out of this international break with a 1-1 draw against Sweden and a 2-0 victory over world number one, the United States. Victory over the United States could give Spain a slim chance of climbing into the top six of the FIFA rankings to be released on Thursday, which would make them one of the pre-qualified teams for this year’s World Cup draw. month.
All of this happened this week with 15 of the federation’s best players, who were not called up for these games after asking for drastic changes within the federation, citing health problems. The implication was clear: coach Jorge Vilda fostered this negative environment.
The Spanish federation immediately backed Vilda and publicly vetted the players, saying they could face serious suspensions. Instead, Vilda pulled players from Spain’s successful youth program, which currently holds the U-17 and U-20 World Cup titles. You can’t underestimate what this result means for those players, in their individual careers.
It must also be said that the problems in Spain are serious and its dichotomy after the Yates report in the United States is disturbing. Vilda dug in and defended himself last week, saying “I demand the utmost respect” from players and refusing to talk about those who weren’t in camp.
Neither Vilda nor the Spanish federation is hiding from clear retaliation against some of the best players in the world. What’s worse, they may not even recognize it as such.
So the young Spanish players should celebrate this result for themselves. Spain, as a federation, and Vilda, as a coach, require much more scrutiny.
USWNT: Casey Murphy, 6. Hailie Mace, 6. Alana Cook, 5. Becky Sauerbrunn, 6. Carson Pickett, 6. Andi Sullivan, 5. Lindsey Horan, 5. Rose Lavelle, 5. Sophia Smith, 6. Trinity Rodman, 5. Megan Rapinoe, 5. Sam Coffey, 6. Ashley Hatch, 5. Sofia Huerta, 5. Ashley Sanchez, 5. Crystal Dunn, 5. Alyssa Thompson, 6.
Spain: Misa Rodríguez, 5. Ivana Andrés, 6. Rocio Gálvez, 7. Laia Codina, 7. Olga Carmona, 8. Oihane Hernández, 7. Maitane López, 6. Maite Oroz, 6. Claudia Zornoza, 6. Esther González, 7. Alba Redondo, 6. Ane Azkona, N/A. Marta Cardona, 6. Athenea del Castillo, 6. Alyssa Thompson, 6.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Olga Carmona, Spain
WORST: Lindsey Horan, USWNT
They twice gave the ball away in dangerous positions in the US defensive third and struggled to find play alongside the rest of the US midfield.
Highlights and highlights
For American fans, these may be considered low moments, but Spain was the more dangerous team as the hosts found the back of the net twice.
Laia Codina scored first from a set piece in the 39th minute:
After the break, the USWNT continued to look flat and the visitors’ hopes of a comeback were dashed in the 72nd minute.
Esther González’s one-touch shot was a beauty and made it clear that the game was over.
After the game: what the players and coaches said
USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski: “We knew it was going to be two tough opponents, we knew it was going to be two tough games. That’s why we came here, to learn more about ourselves well before the World Cup and hopefully prepare better for the World Cup.”
Andonovski: “As a coach, I will take full responsibility before anyone else. Let’s go back and see what the details are, what are the moments when they were better than us and why.”
Key statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
This was the USWNT’s first half without a shot on goal since their 1-0 loss to Canada in the Olympic semifinals on August 2, 2021.
This was the first time the USWNT allowed a goal from a set piece since July 21, 2021 against Sweden in the opening match of the Olympic Games.
Until next time
USWNT: For players whose NWSL The clubs have qualified for the playoffs, they will shift their focus to club football after Sally Yates investigation into abuse within the league. For international duty, the USWNT will face Germany on November 10 in Florida.
Spain: The Spanish team does not have any upcoming international matches according to the program still dealing with player discontent and protests against the Spanish federation.