The U.S. women’s national team lost to Spain 2-0 on Tuesday in Pamplona, Spain. It marks the first two-game losing streak for the USWNT since 2017. Here are my three thoughts on the game: • The U.S. midfield is a huge concern and needs a formation change now.
I don't think Vlatko is the right man for the job. They will not win a World Cup as long as he is running things. Rapino starting two matches is absurd. Her corners used to be a strength not anymore. He is obviously under her thumb. She long ago should have stepped aside, soccer has become secondary to her celebrity. She'd probably make a better coach that Vlatko as she is a lot more passionate and a risk taker. Vlatko just seems lost and doesn't seem to be able to adapt to the play on the field.
The team was beaten to the ball the whole match. Hard to believe. Horan, Cook, Sullivan, Sauerbrunn , Huerta, amongst the slowest and least athletic. Horan is not adding anything to this team. The fact that she starts every game leads one to believe that Vlatko has no solutions to the midfield mess. Rose Lavelle is totally wasted. Sullivan is not a starter.
Rodman, Smith and Pugh are a good front line with lots of potential and the right mentality. Morgan hasn't done much against international competition in awhile. Press is my all time favorite and I think she should be on the WC squad. It was weak the way he shaded her with callups. Even if just a second half sub. Technically she still has the ability to attack defenses. How many players on this team can do that?
Back line Girma, Foxx, Dunn, and Davidson, I still like O'hara for toughness and she can still run.
The summary of the midfield is spot on and it’s evident to anyone who understands the sport that a switch to a 4-2-3-1 is a must, but Vlatko has not once, in 3 years, experimented with other formations. He has given no indication that a formation change is in the cards. The problem is that to switch to a double pivot, you’ll need to rotate out an attacking midfielder for a defensive one. That means Horan wouldn’t be in the XI and for some inexplicable reason, she seems to be undroppable under him. If he did see the light and insert a double pivot, I think he would either bench Lavelle and have Horan play the 10, or have Horan as one of the 6’s, both of which are fireable offenses in isolation.
His tactical rigidity and unearned loyalty to one inflexible player is going to sink this team next summer.
I am at a loss to remember a single quality performance under Vlatko. He's had more than enough time to oversee a generational transition and have a sense of how the team is going to play going forward. He seems out of his depth when the US plays against more technically gifted teams and he doesn't seem to have the tactical acumen to make ANY adjustments within games let alone the correct adjustments. I understand that the players on the team continue to go through a major trauma, but Vlatko's inability to inspire any kind of performance this week feels comparable to the dour Olympic performances we saw when the team was unable to muster intensity during that peculiar time of covid. He is not a coach who can get a performance. So -- he can't inspire the team and he can't make them tactically better, are there any arguments as to why his disappointing tenure should continue?
It was clear in 2019 that Europe was starting to catch up and that they play better football (more technical, more strategic). USWNT players from 2019 couldn't connect passes, didn't move well, and played the long ball over and over, hoping our forwards would catch up and score (go back and watch!). We could no longer score against these quality teams and PKs saved us in 2019
Kate M, Vlatko and others saw that and got worried. They're changing our style to be more technical and better. Part of that is becoming more crafty in the final third and he finally had the right combination with Pugh, Macario and Smith, but then injury meant subs, and none of the subs can play that style, or maybe better said they can't play it as well. Here is where Vlatko could do better- those subs are quality players and likely can do what's asked but they aren't playing the same way. Spain subs got the memo and played together in the style their head coach dictated, they know what's being asked of them.
Totally agree with Grant's assessment of the midfield, Sullivan basically marks one player the whole game and contributes little to the attack, which leaves the other 2 mids on an island. In the Spain game, unlike Sullivan, Coffey's first touch always put her in a position to make a quick move around the oncoming defender and buy just enough time to make a quality distribution of the ball. In Vlatko's new way of working everyone has to be able to do that, that's what they're after. Better soccer.
Unfortunately for us fans, it takes time to build a team where all 22 players have those technical skills and play with that strategy. Just ask Europe
Spot on, 100%. I think Crystal Dunn deserves a shot as an attacking mid. She's got the tenacity much like Ertz and I think she would be phenomenal to facilitate for Lavelle and the forwards.
agree on the midfield. I kept wondering in both the England and Spain matches if Rose was just not playing well or that she's not been put into a position where her strengths are accentuated.
I think you are spot on , Grant. It will be a test of coaching to see if it occurs and how fast. I have some worries that he is going to stick with what he has now. Bullets need to be bitten. And hard decisions need to surface soon.
Lots of excuse making on the telecast, but we need to start to recognize the elephant in the room: With the exception of Rose, this team is weaker at every position than they were in '19. Can't hold the ball under pressure, can't pass in the final 3rd, can't cross, can't win headers.
Didn't see a whole bunch of fight down 1-0 with 20 minutes left either...
And no ambition either, down 1-0 and you see them with the ball wide with one player in the box to their 4.
Grant, I completely agree with your assessment of the midfield. Maybe we’re just spoiled from watching Julie Ertz dominate games, but Andi Sullivan didn’t read either of these two games well in comparison, and isn’t ready to fill the #6 in a 4-3-3 on this team. They got bossed in the middle by Spain’s *B-team* today, generated almost nothing up front, and were scrambling way too much in the back. Sorry, but a lot of that comes down to general tactics - coaching.
I was surprised Vlatko pulled Rodman for Ashley Hatch at halftime. If Trinity wasn’t on some sort of minutes restriction, I’d have loved to see her on the left in place of Rapinoe, with Hatch and Smith. Megan provided very little in either of these games.
They still have the winter & spring to figure it out, but it’s obvious the team’s difficulties go further than “we had people missing”. England wasn’t good, but this was way worse.
Poor showing by the US. Injuries and possibly distractions may have contributed. I realize it is unfair to place any additional burden on the team but disappointing that they could not beat this Spain team. It could have meant something, but now the Spanish federation and coach will feel that they are in the right.
Yes, but other players were terrible: Rapinoe was the most ineffectual of the lot. I think she should be retired. Alana Cook was also nearly invisible. I wonder if the best decisions have been made by Vlatko