The United States Women’s national team (USWNT) takes on China PR on Friday at Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa with kickoff scheduled for 7:30pm EST. This will be yet another tough opponent for the USWNT at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The USWNT has played four very tough teams in Australia, Sweden, Nigeria and Colombia. The best part of the USWNT so far this tournament has been their defense. They have been led by a back line of Meghan Klingenberg, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn and Ali Krieger. This “fearsome foursome” has played every minute of the tournament together minus Krieger’s 81st minute substitution in their game against Colombia. That is 351 minutes of a possible 360 minutes played. One can assume when the USWNT and Jill Ellis take the pitch Friday in Ottawa, all four players will be in the back protecting Hope Solo and the U.S. goal.
The United States’ biggest issue so far this World Cup has been their offensive production or lack thereof. They have scored only six goals in four games which includes being shutout in their second group state match against Sweden. The U.S. has been playing more of a “let’s cross the ball into the box and see if Abby Wambach can get a head on it and score” style. That just isn’t working for them anymore. Maybe Wambach isn’t the player she used to be, she is getting older. Maybe it’s because they are playing on turf (rolls eyes). Whatever the problem is, they need to figure it out.
If the get by China and that’s a big if, the U.S. will have a tough time scoring against the winner of France and Germany. China is a very good defensive team and the U.S. needs to use their speed to get behind their defense. Alex Morgan is finally played a full game last time out against Colombia. Sydney Leroux is fresh after not playing against Colombia. Maybe Ellis should start Leroux and Morgan up top as the two forwards and put Wambach on the bench for this one.
You know the old saying “offense wins games, but defense wins championships”? This is a new USWNT approach. Yes, everyone loves to see goals scored but this isn’t your Tony DiCicco’s or Pia Sundhage's USWNT. It appears that Ellis is relying on her back line and the best goalkeeper in the World to win the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
In a roundabout way, this writer is trying to suggest that Ellis needs to rely on her defense and stop relying on the old Wambach. It’s time for a more defensive approach.