New England Soccer Today

A Tale of Two Halves

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

After a shaky start, the U.S. team showed that they were more than competent against Australia with a 3-1 victory on Monday night in their Group D opener.

Their victory puts them solidly in first place in the group with a plus-2 goal differential. This is the start that the team needed to this tournament. They scored in the first 15 minutes, and despite some worrying play early on, they walked away with the win.

Megan Rapinoe showed once again she is a force to be reckoned with. Her first goal coming in the 12 th minute deflected off of an Australian defender and wrong footed the Aussie keeper. It definitely won’t win goal of tournament, but it still counts on the score sheet.

Rapinoe’s second goal was a well-placed strike that goalie Melissa Barbieri had no chance of stopping. Rapinoe also picked up a yellow card which is a concern. If she picks up another yellow card in any of the next three games, she will be forced to sit out the next match.

The U.S.’s second goal was orchestrated perfectly, with Sydney Leroux using her speed to stretch the Matildas’ defense. She took the ball wide and beat her defender around the corner to lay a ball pack to Christen Press. The U.S. striker, who was dogged by some early nerves in her World Cup debut, did the smart thing and broke off her run early. The space she created allowed Leroux to lay a perfectly weighted ball to her teammate, and score the game-winner.

The Australian’s only goal came in the 27th minute when Michelle Heyman sent a ball across from the left to the right hand side of the 18. The US was sloppy and didn’t mark the back post, where Lisa De Vanna, Australia’s key player, was lurking. She got a ball inside the 18 and took a free shot to the near post. That kind of goal is really a lapse in play from Ali Krieger and Lauren Holiday. They should have been marking in and goal side.

My takeaways from this match: the U.S. needs to keep pressure on their opponents by passing the ball around. With probably the deepest bench in the world, they need to use their forwards up making runs and creating chances. Keeping the ball wide is the best way to do this. Also, Abby Wambach missed a header off of a free kick, I don’t expect to see that again this tournament.

I’m glad coach Jill Ellis gave Alex Morgan only a brief run, even though it looked like she was about to come on before Press scored. The U.S. will need Morgan later on in the tournament when other players need rest, and the competition obviously strengthens. It’ll be interesting to see how the U.S. deals with the fatigue that comes with playing every game on turf.

All in all, it was an okay match from the U.S. I’ll chalk up the shaky first half to some to jitters. They will play Sweden on Friday June 12 th at 8:00 EST. This will be their biggest test in the group stage.

Leave a Reply