USWNT looks to solve problems against France

dunn scores

by TOM SLATER

The second leg of the SheBelieves Cup is set for tomorrow afternoon and for the United States National Women’s Soccer Team, there’s a couple of things to look for when it meets France.

On one hand, a victory will extend its winning streak for 2016 to eight matches and mark a big step toward winning the inaugural SheBelieves Cup. On the other hand, Jill Ellis’ would like her young Americans to improve on their problem-solving abilities.

Of course, the fans wouldn’t mind both.

The United States meets France in the second match of the tournament in a 3:30 p.m. (EST) start. The match will be televised on ESPN3. England plays Germany at 5:30 p.m.

If the United States is to continue its winning ways, the Americans need to take lessons learned from the England game and put them on the field against the number three ranked team in the world.

Unlike every other 2016 opponent, England thought they could play with the United States and came out with a great plan – stay organized in the back, tight in the midfield and try to attack on the offense.

It worked so well, the Americans never got into a rhythm and needed a superb 73rd minute goal from Crystal Dunn to beat the English, 1-0.

France suffered a similar fate against Germany, the only difference being the goal wasn’t as pretty and came 10 minutes later. France chose to attack Germany and the game was a basic stalemate until Leonie Maier scored on a scramble off a corner kick in the 83rd minute. The match was reminiscent of the 2015 Women’s World Cup quarterfinal match that Germany won in penalty kicks.  France has 16 of the players from that team in the SheBelieves Cup tournament. Experience is a plus with eight players have 97 caps or more.

Camille Abily and Elise Bussaglia lead the midfield with Laura Georges anchoring the defense. Louisa Necib is a strong attacking midfielder while Eugenie Le Sommer is a dangerous striker with 52 international goals in 116 matches. Le Sommer and Marie-Laure Delie each scored three goals in Canada.

For the United States to be successful, they need to improve on their tactical game. While the defense played well, the attack was not smooth. Mallory Pugh was the most dangerous American, especially in the first half. And Dunn ignited the offense come in for the final 25 minutes or so. But the play in the middle of the field was lacking.

Center mids Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan never got untracked because England’s midfield smothered them. They’re going to need to vary their attack, mixing in the targeted long ball with short passes to spread the field. That’ll be the key to get Alex Morgan and Carli Lloyd involved. Neither saw the ball enough to be dangerous against England.

Much has been said about Ellis’ wishes that her team solve the problems presented by their opponents’ style of play. Her team is one of f transition with many younger players replacing those retired, injured and pushed to the back of the rotation.

The SheBelieves Cup is the perfect opportunity to find out just how quickly problems can be solved. And, get the victory, if possible.