New England Soccer Today

Room for Improvement

Photo credit: Denise McCooey/Prost Amerika

Photo credit: Denise McCooey/Prost Amerika

The U.S. Women’s National Team finally showcased the attacking flair and prowess of a world power in Friday’s 1-0 win over China – and they did it without starting Abby Wambach, Megan Rapinoe or Lauren Holiday.

Holiday and Rapinoe were both suspended due to caution accumulation, while Wambach was rested in favor of Amy Rodriguez up top to start the match. This game was almost completely controlled by the U.S. They kept 56 percent possession, though there were lengthy spells in which it probably bordered 70 percent, and most of China’s time controlling the ball was in their own defensive half.

The deciding goal came off of a set piece in the 51st minute. Wu Haiyan committed a yellow card tackle inside the half. The U.S. sent most of their players into the box, so China expected Megan Klingenberg to put the ball into the box. However, Klingenberg passed the ball across the field to Julie Johnston, who set the ball up with her first touch, then lofted the ball in to the penalty spot where Carli Lloyd rose above her defender and headed the ball into the lower right corner of the net.

The U.S. enjoyed a height and size advantage in nearly every matchup on Friday. You could tell that when players went shoulder-to-shoulder, the U.S. was taller and stronger. They took away balls from China all night.

The players who rose to the occasion were Rodriguez, Lloyd, Johnston, Alex Morgan and Morgan Brian. Up front, the U.S. distributed well despite missing Rapinoe. Johnston continued to work hard on defense and help maintain a shutout. Lloyd’s goal was the difference in the game on Friday, and the U.S. needs her to keep scoring.

While the U.S. did come out victorious, China wasn’t exactly their toughest foe. With top-ranked Germany on tap for Tuesday’s semifinal, let’s take a look at what they might want to work on between now and then.

1. Tobin Heath repeatedly tried to beat two or more defenders off of the dribble. This led to a number of turnovers. If she beats one defender, and passes the ball, she’s doing her job. If she tries to beat more, then she’s biting more than she can chew.

2. Seventeen shots, but only four on target. You might miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take, but you also need to make the shots you do take really count.

3. Seven calls for offside. This continues to plague the U.S. It called back a goal in the game against Colombia, and the U.S. had another opportunity to put away another easy goal on Friday that was called offsides.

Friday’s quarterfinal was a success, through and through, and U.S. becomes the only team to advance to the semifinals in all seven Women’s World Cups. But their biggest test comes on Tuesday with Germany on tap.

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