Doubts about Tobin Heath erased in Send Off Series

Tobin Heath celebrates with USWNT teammates(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Tobin Heath celebrates with USWNT teammates(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
Tobin Heath
Tobin Heath celebrates with USWNT teammates (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

Two 4-0 wins against Mexico in the Send Off Series would lead anyone to believe the USWNT is in prime form heading into the Olympics. The team’s attacking players combined beautifully for goals that included diving headers and full volley finishes.

I knew well before this week however that the USWNT could give everyone a run for their money at the Olympics. What I didn’t know was how head coach Vlatko Andonovski was going to justify using up an 18-player roster spot on an injured Tobin Heath.

More from Playing for 90

Until Thursday’s game against Mexico, Heath hadn’t played a match since January which led me to believe it would be unreasonable to expect her to be Olympic level fit by the end of July.

In fact, I thought it was a long shot she would make the Olympic roster much less contribute at the level they need her to. It took all of 52 seconds however for her to ease my doubts and by the end of Monday’s game, I was ready to accept that she is good to go.

Heath saw her first action of 2021 in the 73rd minute on Thursday, and not one minute later she was sending the ball into the back of the net. A joyous celebration followed, and that was that — Heath was back in spectacular fashion.

She wasn’t about to stop there however. On Monday night, as they faced Mexico again in their final match before the Olympics, Heath netted another goal, casually bending the ball around the defender and goalkeeper with her left foot to add to an already impressive first-half goal tally for the USWNT.

Heath’s contribution extended beyond goals

As a forward, there’s no doubt that scoring is key. Players will agonize over goal droughts longing to see the ball rattle the back of the net again and give them their mojo back. As a result, Heath’s two goals were critical in erasing any doubts the coaches might have had about her current effectiveness. However, her non-goal related contributions in the first half of Monday’s game were equally as impressive and reassuring as the goals themselves.

Heath made intelligent runs off the ball, launched a rocket off the crossbar from distance, skillfully maneuvered around defenders and battled on defense. And if there was any doubt whether the old Tobin was back, I witnessed her telling off the referee multiple times for making poor calls. Very Tobin-esque indeed.

Next. USWNT opts for experience over youth. dark

The USWNT certainly appears to be ready to rumble as they are led by a strong front line that is really starting to click and look sharper in front of goal. Whether Heath finds herself included in the starting lineup or not, she’ll add critical depth to the team in a tournament where a small roster and packed game schedule make substitutions an important and absolutely necessary part of every coach’s game plan.