USWNT to continue 2016 dominance in return leg vs. Colombia

carli

By TOM SLATER

With the first game between the United States and Colombia a complete blowout, there’s little reason to think Sunday’s rematch will be much different.

Another 7-0 victory may be stretching things, but then again, the way the United States was playing, nothing seems impossible or even improbable.

The win over Colombia was not impressive because of the scoreline — although six players scoring seven goals is pretty impressive. Instead the Americans impressed because they were as clinical and technical as they have ever been.

Colombia isn’t Germany but then again it isn’t Honduras, either. They are formidable they try to play the right way but they were no match for the United State in any aspect of the game. The US team moved the ball at will but even more important they moved it with purpose and never took their foot off the pedal from minute one until the final seconds of stoppage time.

The Americans have now won all 10 matches in 2016 as the buildup to the Rio Summer Olympics gets shorter. They have scored 39 goals and allowed only one.

As Jill Ellis continues to tweak the lineup, it’s hard to know if she’s still evaluating or looking for the right combinations. But whatever she’s doing — it all turns to gold this year.

Case in point was the Allie Long call up. She was brought into camp for these two matches and not only started in her first senior national game since August 2014, but she scored her first ever two goals for the US.

What does this mean? It’s still too early to tell. There’s few international matches left before the Olympics. Two are scheduled in June — one is the World Cup final rematch against Japan on June 2 in Colorado and it’s sold out. The other June match has not been announced.

By that time, Ellis needs to figure out what 18 players she’ll take to Brazil. But that’s for another day. Here’s three issues to ponder in Philly.

A goalkeeper other than Solo: Ellis has played Hope Solo in all but one game this calendar year. She was stellar in the SheBelieves Cup, but has done little in the other six matches. Maybe Ellis is hoping her Alyssa Naeher or Ashlyn Harris will get work in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) matches to keep sharp, but now is the time to get them international experience in case something happens to Solo in Brazil.

The strange case of Heather O’Reilly: The New Jersey native finally got in a match this year, playing the last 20 minutes against Colombia. She subbed out for Kelley O’Hara and did nothing to hurt or help her chances.

With tomorrow’s match virtually in her backyard, it would seem natural that O’Reilly get the start to see how the FC Kansas City midfielder interacts with relatively new teammates like Lindsey Horan, Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn when the outcome hasn’t been decided yet.

Attacking outside backs: It appears that Ellis does love the offensive-minded outside backs as O’Hara and Meghan Klingenberg continue to start and play significant minutes. Both love to go forward and get involved in the attack, adding even more numbers in the Americans’ final third. But neither are known as shut-down defenders, which will be significant against the top teams in the Olympics.

After 90 minutes, these things may not matter. Press or Dunn or Lloyd or all will probably score enough to put the game out of reach. And the United States will win their 11th match of the year.

  • Abbey Wambauch

    I’ll drink to that!