USWNT Thoroughly Outplayed by France 2-0


Ugly. There is no way to sugar coat the USWNT’s loss to France on Sunday 2-0. It was the first victory in seventeen games for the French and if they continue to play like they did yesterday, they could be a dark horse candidate for the World Cup title this summer.

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Alright, so I realize it was a ‘friendly’ match and it wasn’t the full USA squad on display. That’s part of the issue. Playing without stalwarts Abby Wambach (until the second half), Sydney Leroux, Kelley O’Hara, Megan Rapinoe, Christine Rampone and Hope Solo, team USA showed a clear lack of depth and looked slow. Playing in windy conditions and on turf, France just seemed two steps ahead of the Americans in all facets. Having beaten Brazil and Germany recently, the third ranked French looked poised to make a major run at the Cup, having upgraded previously weak spots in their lineup. Forward Eugenie Le Sommer was arguably the best player out there for both sides, and they received stellar goal play from Sarah Bouhaddi. All in all, if was perhaps the best side France has put out there in a decade.

For the US women, it was a different story. Head coach Jill Ellis wanted to see her middies penetrate the French defense early and often, and in the opening few minutes, forwards Christen Press and Alex Morgan did get behind the defense, but were turned away either by Bouhaddi or from shots taken at a bad angle. Morgan did show some flair on an early breakaway when she slipped the ball backwards through the legs of defender Wendie Renard. Having missed the better part of seven months with assorted ankle injuries, Morgan showed no ill effects and her play was one of the few bright spots for team USA. As I said, early on both Morgan and Press looked dangerous, but to no avail.

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  • I was hoping that Morgan Brian would’ve had more of an impact, but she was handled by the French attack. She is looked at as a potential partner for Lauren Cheyney (Holiday), and the partnership is still a work in progress. I won’t be too critical of her since she’s only twenty one and has a long international career ahead of her. I think it’s fair to say though that none of the replacements had much of an impact. Some of coach Ellis’ moves could be questioned, but again with ten games to go before the World Cup, some of those questions will hopefully be solved. Moving Carli Lloyd to the left side of the midfield removed some of her defensive responsibilities, and it was hoped she could drift inside more and play forward, and while she had a few shots towards goal, she looked a little uncomfortable in her new role. Again, this is one move that as more time passes, Lloyd may grow to embrace. I’m still a little skeptical about Ellis and the match against France did little to ease my skepticism.

    In my opinion, Lori Chalupny did little to warrant a spot come summer. That may sound a little harsh, but she looked very slow and had to be bailed out a few times by Becky Sauerbrun. While normally a midfielder, Chalupny did not adjust to her new position with any level of comfort. French midfielder Elodie Thomis blew past Chalupny, and at one point Tobin Heath was shifted over to help with Thomis. Perhaps Chalupny deserves a little pass since this was her first international action in five years due to concussion issues, and she may still earn her ticket to Canada in June. Rampone figures to pair with Sauerbrun once Cup play starts and it was hoped that Chalupny could provide solid minutes in Rampone’s absence, but if Sunday was any indication, she may not be up to task.

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    Finally, the match against France would provide Ellis with a chance to see how her number two goalie would perform. Playing in only her fifth cap, goalie Ashlyn Harris had some really good moments with some key overhead saves, and while she’s not afraid to be vocal with her more experienced teammates, she did little to ease the concerns regarding Solo’s replacement. Not having established a clear replacement for Solo has been one of the USWNT’s biggest mistakes. It’s assumed that as long as she stays out of trouble, Solo will be there for the World Cup and Harris would figure to be Solo’s sub should something go wrong. I would suspect Harris will get the start against England in the upcoming friendly and the more experience the better.

    I still think that when all is said and done and the team departs for the World Cup, team USA will claim their rightful spot amongst the favorites. I would love to see someone establish their selves as a rock in that center back position. Perhaps Shannon Boxx (who was on the bench) can provide fifteen minutes of such per game. I don’t know if the move of Lloyd will be permanent, but taking defense out of her game may not prove to be the wisest decision for Ellis. For the 39 year old Rampone, the 34 year old Wambach, the 33 year old Solo and 37 years old Boxx this may be their last shot at a World Cup title.

    None of the replacements for the five starters who sat stepped up and gave us any “wow” moments, and while Morgan looked good, she seems a step away from clicking. They cannot continue to lose center midfield like they did against France; perhaps inserting Boxx can ease that problem area. The match against England will hopefully provide some solutions. We can only hope.

    Next: USWNT: Thoughts on Loss to France