Easy match-up for USWNT leads to lackadaisical play

The U.S. Women's soccer team defeated Jamaica in a friendly as the USWNT prepares for the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images)
The U.S. Women's soccer team defeated Jamaica in a friendly as the USWNT prepares for the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /
The USWNT continues its preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. On Wednesday, they face Nigeria. (Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images) /

The saying “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch” comes to mind after the USWNT’s Summer Series match-up against Jamaica on Sunday. Perhaps that’s a bit harsh, but the reality is Jamaica just couldn’t compete.

Now that’s not to say Jamaica doesn’t have talented players. They do. In fact, six play club soccer in the NWSL while two play in England’s WSL. As a whole, the team also has speed on their side, and there were certainly moments throughout the game where these bursts of pace caught the US back line off guard or gave them a run for their money. However, they remained just that … moments, few and far between.

With Carli Lloyd opening the scoring in the 24th second of the game followed by two more first-half goals from Lindsey Horan and Margaret Purce, it looked as though the end result would be an embarrassingly high-scoring game in favor of the USWNT. Beyond that, these goals were scored by what could arguably be considered a “second-tier” lineup for the USWNT as head coach Vlatko Andonovski continues to assess the players in anticipation of having to cut the roster to 18 for the Olympics.

Though any line-up the USWNT puts forth is incredibly talented and dominant, it’s reasonable to assume that when you have players like Sam Mewis and Alex Morgan coming on as subs, the level of play should only be elevated.

The USWNT failed to put its best foot forward.

Instead, the USWNT played a lackadaisical and uninspired second half as though their opponent wasn’t worthy of their maximum effort. They lacked the tenacity in attack I’ve seen so many times before. They ultimately only scored one more goal and missed many juicy opportunities along the way.

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On defense, they made sloppy mistakes including careless back passes and reckless frustration fouls. Ultimately none of it was costly because Jamaica wasn’t capable of capitalizing on the small gifts they were given. Still, it makes me nervous for the Olympics where the USWNT will face more challenging opposition.

I’ve never doubted the talent of the USWNT or their ability to be unstoppable when they’re at their best, but I haven’t seen them look their best in 2021, and they’re about to head into a major tournament.

Sunday’s game wasn’t all bad, however. Carli Lloyd wrote her name in the history books as the oldest player to score for the USWNT. And her goal also happened to be the second-fastest in team history. The USWNT goals also involved excellent build-up play even though the end result was made easy by Jamaica’s consistent failure to mark players in the box.

Despite some lackluster performances, the team clearly has depth which will make choosing an 18-person roster a very difficult task. And ultimately, any goal in advance of the Olympics is a win as it boosts confidence levels and gives players that indescribable joy that comes from watching the ball smash into the back of the net.

Next. Still room for improvement for USWNT. dark

With experimental lineups and players being tested in positions that aren’t as familiar to them, it’s perhaps unfair to be too critical as both players and coaches use these months to figure things out. However, once the Olympic roster is named I can only hope that players will approach every game like it’s an Olympic final. The USWNT next faces Nigeria on Wednesday in their final match of the Summer Series.