A Look Back: Mexico’s game plan was solid but USWNT had enough to win

uswnt wins

by TOM SLATER

Mexico was supposed to be an easier foe for the United States Women’s National Team than Costa Rica. And the US was supposed to keep the ball rolling – and into the net – as they inched closer to claiming the top spot in Bracket A on the road to a much-expected and what-figured-to-be eventual Olympic bid.

But that’s not what happened. No one told Mexico it was supposed to be easy.

The Americans had to use a rebound off a penalty kick after a fortuitous call to beat the organized and determined Mexico and added another chapter in the rivalry that is usually reserved for the men’s national teams.

The 1-0 victory is behind them and tomorrow they will finish up with Puerto Rico where they can name the score.

We’re not kidding this time.

Here’s three things we’re kicking around from yesterday’s match.

Mexico’s game plan: It wasn’t only good — it was well-executed. The Mexicans had five players flat on the backline and sat four midfielders in front of them. They stayed disciplined, bent a few times but never break and even forayed into the American’s end. Mexico also had help from the left post. First Christen Press and then Lindsey Horan hit the woodwork in the second half. Both times, the rebound bounced away from goal, leaving no chance for a rebound. Monica Ocampo and Karla Nieto did yeoman’s work along with goalkeeper Cecilia Santiago. In the United States favor, they seemed to solve the game near the end of the first half and did everything but score in the second half.

The Americans can rest some players: The United States not only clinched the top spot in its bracket, but now, it plays Puerto Rico — by far the weakest team in the tournament.  That mean’s Jill Ellis can play whomever she wants and rest anyone with a nagging injury or some tired muscles. It should be a chance to give some newer players like Stephanie McCaffery, Samantha Mewis or Emily Sonnett a start.  Or at least some meaningful playing time.

Where is Kelley O’Hara?: Yes, this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business. Just ask Heather O’Reilly. But it’s interesting that O’Hara is a veteran who is versatile and came up big in Canada in both the China quarterfinal and Germany semi-final match, but for two games, Ellis has chosen Mallory Pugh over O’Hara.

Monday’s final group bracket match would be a great time to give O’Hara needed time.   Pugh already seems to be an Ellis favorite and will start. And another lineup twist: Press will start over Crystal Dunn.