Is US Women's Soccer an Inferior Product?

Discussion in 'USA Women: News and Analysis' started by Elroy, Oct 25, 2003.

  1. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    This is not intended to be a troll or flamer thread. If you can't control your emotions, go somewhere else.

    I've coached and watched women's soccer for many years. I have been struck by the lack of technically proficient play in the women's international game. Most teams, including the US rely on either long balls and individual effort, or drives to the corner and predictable crosses. Germany plays simple combinations that at least one poster has said were predictable, and they are considered the cutting edge.

    The women's game will be slower than the men's b/c of relative speed and power issues. But, as a long time supporter of girl's and women's soccer, I am aggravated that the women can't seem to play technically or tactically like the men. I've heard top women's coaches speak to the issue of differences in play in terms of women not being strong or fast enough to make the same plays that the men make. It seems to me to be a bogus position as speed and strength are relative.

    None the less, if I had a choice of watching a men's or women's match of similiar levels, I would watch the men's match. This is especially true at the highest levels. It seems to me that we will have difficulty in establishing a women's league until this gap is closed.

    From my own experience, I can say that I deliberatly would schedule myself to coach boys in my off season. I thought that it made me a better coach, as I tended to apply boy standards to my girls teams. When I scrimmaged, I scrimmaged against quality boys teams clear up to the seventh and eigth grade level. I thought that those scrimmages made my team quicker and more aggressive. This option is not really available to coaches of older players, although I would occasionally arrange such scrimmages for fun.

    Maybe this could also apply to the NT. Maybe we need to stretch our thinking of what the women's game can be. Maybe we need to find a men's coach and let that person have a shot.

    What do you think?
  2. Kqql

    Kqql Member

    Sep 22, 2003
    First of all, this what the President of US Soccer thinks.
    I bet he also thinks that AH did a super fabulous job to tie with Italy (after all they are the 3 time WC champ and 2 times Runner ups ;) and if she keeps it up, USWNT will be #3 soon.

    Now as I stated on some other thread that
    there is no way USWNT will win another major tournament anytime soon, unless there is a new
    coach hired for the USWNT, who goes back to the ABC or 101 of soccer.

    Furthermore, USWNT has only scored 2 goals in the last 7 games from run of play, and lost the last 2 major tournaments under AH.

    However, the amazing part is Dr. Contiguglia can't see the need for a new coach for the USWNT and he thinks soccer is only about scoring from set pieces.

    The future doesn't look good for the USWNT.

    USWNT is to women soccer what Brazil is to Men soccer, but I now can say it no longer is, because if USWNT still was so, then AH would have been on her way to become a college coach.
  3. Brownswan

    Brownswan New Member

    Jun 30, 1999
    Port St. Lucie, FL
    Going back over 20 years, to 1981, I remember the coach of a girl's 1966 travelling team asking to scrimmage with our boys 1970 team, which had won the VA state championship for the age group in 1981. He wanted his girls to have a tough match with a technically proficient team that wouldn't just kick the girls to pieces. He was preparing for a tournement.

    The girls made a strong effort -- and some of them were very pretty, and some of the more developed boys were notably distracted -- but the boys were simply faster and more skilled in every phase of the game. They only played for 30 minutes, and toward the end the girls were frustrated, and simply gave up challenging for balls. It was a route -- and the boys were 11 years old, while these first division girls were about 15.

    That was 20 years ago; I'm not sure the situation has improved. The girls have gotten better, but so have the boys.

    Now, if it makes anyone feel better, I've played pickup games that included young women more than half my age (then 56, haven't played since 9/11)and I have been knocked off the ball, out jumped, beaten for speed -- you name it.

    At least they never rubbed it in; they never called me 'gramps.' :)
  4. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Future role?

    I agree with the first part of your quote. We are on a downward slide. As to April, I think that the "Peter Principle" applies here, although I'm not certain of where her level of competence was. It would probably be a disheartening experience and might leave her embittered. Why burden the college game with her presence? Maybe she can take that horrible visor to the LPGA.
  5. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    He shouldn't be coaching girl's teams...

    Really. If the OP can't appraciate the game at the level that it is played, then he shouldn't have "coached and watched women's soccer for many years." Women will never be as big or fast as men. I don't see why that should bother anybody. (Some of us actually like the fact that they're , uh, softer.) I play with a bunch of gimpy old guys with knee braces and does the fact that we'll never be in the World Cup mean that we should give it up? There are many levels of competition and I'm one of those people who would rather watch a really competitive high school basketball game between two evenly matched teams rather than a bunch of professionals who seem to be going through the motions.
  6. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001

    I think that you've totally missed the point. I support people ( including women ) playing at whatever level is appropriate. The problem I want to discuss is at the highest level. We're trying to sell a PROFESSIONAL league for female players. If the international game does not become as entertaining as the men's, there will be no sale.

    As an aside, I spent those years promoting girl's soccer and developing players. If a person with my background is turned off by current play, then there could be more of us - and that could be trouble. Remember, we ( women's soccer ) aren't just competing with men's sports. If we aren't more entertaining than the other women's sports, we will fail.

    I think that I said that myself. I restate the question. If women are fast and strong in relation to each other, why can't they play at the same technical and tactical levels as men? Please note that I'm upset by this. So that you don't miss the point, that means that I believe that women can do it and I'm disappointed that they don't.

    Me too. But...we are trying to do more also.
  7. denver_mugwamp

    denver_mugwamp New Member

    Feb 9, 2003
    Denver, Colorado
    Re: Really?

    And I think you miss the point. Women's professional soccer may fail or it may succeed. I can't think of a single "successful" women's professional team sport. There's no models to imitate. (I certainly wouldn't use the WNBA as a model for anything.) It may very well be that the "new" WUSA is a down-sized league which is scaled to an average attendance of 8,000 or so. It may be that it will take 10 years to build a larger attendance base. Is that successful? Up to the individual I guess. It's unfortunate that the USWNT failed to win a WC with a team of older players. There seemed to be a big illusion that the WUSA was going to make the USWNT better, like the MLS had for the men. Mostly it just wore them out. But I have a great deal of faith in the huge pool of younger players coming up. I think that instead of worrying about how enteratining the game is, it would be better to step back and see what has been achieved to this point. How big is the present fan base and what should be reasonable expectations? It's obvious there isn't going to be any overnight success.
  8. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Re: Re: Really?

    I can't miss the point, it's my thread.

    The tie in is simple, the WUSA was sold by the USWNT and the 1999 WWC. If play at this level is seen as inferior, then it will be a tough sell. US Soccer will then be left with the problems of the past. These, according to Beau and AweInspiring, force the Fed to develop a very small number of women over a very long time. I think that this would be an unfortunate outcome.

    The questions I'd like to discuss are: 1) Is the play of women at the NT level inferior, technically and tactically, to the play of men at a similiar level? 2) If this is true, what are possible solutions?

    I hope that I've made my point clear.
  9. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    The case for inferiority..

    I went to a decent quality college women's match today. Both teams had good records and one has been ranked in the top twenty. I saw some of the same flaws that I observed in the recent WWC.

    1. Lack of short passing/combination passing. Teams seem to want to spread the field, placing the outside mids into a "lonesome end" position where they were pretty much kept out of play. B/C of this, most passes were of twenty to thirty yards in length. This made most of the attacks very predictable. When teams tried to move the ball under pressure, they were unable to string more than a pass or two together. It was strange that they could not, as they had worked heavily on that area in warmup. It seemed that any idea of a short passing game went right out the window as soon as they stepped on the field.

    2. Failure to give passing options. Players tended to pass and then watch, rather than moving into position where they could receive a return pass or provide support to the player they passed to. The over reliance on long passing certainly contributed to this problem. Of course, the lack of passing options contributed to predictability.

    3. Failure to recognize passing lanes. Players ran through and over obvious lanes. Timing was terrinle also.

    4. All attacks were from the wings or off set pieces. The inability to penetrate the center limited the attack. Most goals were from individual effort on GK rebounds.

    5. Lack of quality first touch. I can't tell you how many times players hit themselves in the nose on first touch.

    It's late, and I'm getting depressed. Bottom line - I had a hard time telling the difference between the match today and the Nats.
  10. puttputtfc

    puttputtfc Member+

    Sep 7, 1999
    Re: Re: Re: Really?

    1) Yes.
    2) New players and coach. At the 03 WWC there were a few things that stood out for me watching the US.

    First of all, the team was lazy. I cannot tell you how many 50/50 balls went unchallenged, headballs avoided and balls that were rolling out, could have been saved and not chased. Some women took the championship to be thier birthright and the effort was not there.

    Secondly, there were some players that simply were not that good. Hamm, Millbrett, Foudy, Lilly and Scurry all should have had better games.

    Third, AH needs to go. She is not a good coach but I am glad she brought some new faces to the team, especially Boxx and Reddick. Her tacticts are about on par as those of a drunk monkey.

    Please remember that for many years the USWNT was basically a club team playing twenty games a year or more. It is much more difficult to have the same chemistry.

    Also Womwn's soccer is still in it's infancy compared to the men. There are athletic, hard nosed teams (Nigeria), there are teams with technically strong players (Sweden), teams with players who will not quit (Canada), but the team who had some of each won the tournament.

    What needs to happen is a team that has all of these factors with one a few creative players thrown in the mix. IMHO, the most creative player, Aly Wagner, will not develope under AH and the current state the team is in.

    Germany had a good team but not as good as the 99 US, China, or Norway teams. When all those components are put together, the bar will be raised for women's soccer. Hopefully, the Olympics will see some improvement. (Sorry for the long post)
  11. SpongeBobSquarePants

    Jun 18, 2003
    Silver Spring
    Re: Re: Re: Really?

    I think it is more of a current problem. I remember going to the US send for the '98 World Cup that had a women/men double header. Watching the women play before the men made watching the men play a painful matter. The women were so much more technically better than the men. Granted, the women were playing a weak team, but they doing what they always did; controlling the ball, moving it around effortlessly, stringing together multiple passes, etc.

    I don't know what's gone wrong since then, but they clearly don't play that same style. The US women seem to be the most talented of the players I have seen and I think the old style suits them much better. The long ball tactics you talk about are for teams that don't have the time to develop or lack talent to execute controlled play.

    I think the latest results have less to do with talent than the coaching abilities. Yes, other teams have improved a great deal; but, the US players are still the elite. Any coach who can't get results with players that the US has is to be questioned.
  12. Tom T

    Tom T New Member

    Feb 25, 2003
    Soccer Wasteland
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    Right on!!

    I've only skimmed through the comments concerning the lack of talented players - mostly because I really find it difficult to believe that the US doesn't have deepest pool of talent in the world. Is that talent developed as much as as some other countries? - maybe not

    But, again, at the end of the day, that development, and the "situations" that the players are put into, are the responsibilty of the coach.

    The style of play is inferior, not the players.
  13. Kim-GoBeat!

    Kim-GoBeat! New Member

    Jun 21, 2001
    Thugsville, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Really?

    I believe I understand what you are saying. The women should be more technical and display a higher level of tactics. You aren't comparing men to women. You are comparing women to women. When on offense, there should be more one touch passes and more speed of play because the defense is women as well. It would be different if these same women were running at men. The speed and strength of the players in the WUSA should be similar. Therefore, they should be able to display the speed and strength they possess and not rely on the long pass and predictable runs and crosses. Am I anywhere close to the point you are making?

    I am a Beat fan. The Beat the first two years played a lot of long ball... and if not for the personalities on the could have been a bit boring. However, they turned it up in the third season and started playing a more technical, beautiful game. The 2003 opening game in particular took my breath away. If they had maintained that style of play, they would have never lost a game throughout the whole season. They scored 11 goals in those two games...their opponents scored none. They unfortunately had a two week break between games 2 and 3 and never seemed to achieve that same rhythm. Did you see either one of these games? If not, PM me and I'll see that you get a tape. I'd really like for you to see those games and see what you think. It at least lets us know that the women are capable of exhibiting an exciting, technical possession style of play. I think we see moments of this in each and every game...they just need to string the moments together to create entire matches that blow you away. I believe they have the ability to do just that. As far as the USWNT goes...they just need better leadership in order to make that happen...and a few of the vets need to step aside.
  14. Kim-GoBeat!

    Kim-GoBeat! New Member

    Jun 21, 2001
    Thugsville, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    I agree with most of what you said. I think Scurry played incredibly well. Those two goals in stoppage time during the semi were not her fault. Her defense played forward and left her alone. I think Lilly was solid as well. Hamm was playing great in game 1 and 2, but seemed to get in a rut after having not played in the Korea game. Milbrett should have never been on this team...Foudy isn't playing as well as she used to and I think we would have seen the same from Chastain...I wasn't impressed with her WUSA showing.

    April had too many injured people on the team. Slaton and Hucles were both injured before the team was announced. They were wasted spots. I liked adding Boxx, Wambach and Bivens to the team, however, the final team was announced so late that they all never really had much time to mesh as a team and find their chemistry. April kept throwing so many people in camp during the last year that the groove of the team suffered. She needs to pick a team and pretty much stick with it until the Olympics are over. At least give them a chance to learn to play together.

    The one thing I will never understand is why Ape took Parlow out of the Semi final so early. I've seen Cindy play for three years with the Beat. She's not a 90 minute player...but if she's playing sure as hell don't take her out before the 75th or 80th minute. She has signs of needing to come out...not making runs...not challenging for the ball - she wasn't showing any of that. What she was showing was the only offensive threat we had during that whole match. I still can't believe Mia didn't put away that beautiful through ball that Wambach sent her. ::shakes head and comes back to reality::

    Just my $.02 :D
  15. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    Do you think that the Eternals considered this to be an extension of their "Victory Tour"?

    No problem with the long post.
  16. Elroy

    Elroy New Member

    Jul 26, 2001
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    You are spot on! Women playing women in this WWC was just plain ugly. Maybe it's tactics, maybe it's the skill level they enter with; I think it is a combination.

    Going back to the college match.... In warm up, the women juggled well, they passed well in a tightly packed short sided game. In the match, their touch turned into the anvil chorus. In warm up, they showed the mentality and skill to be able to penetrate defenses; in the match, they couldn't come close. I got the same impression from the Nats as well.
  17. TOTC

    TOTC Member

    Feb 20, 2001
    Laurel, MD, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    So, as it turned out, were MacMillan and Mullinix.

    What is coming out now is that Parlow may have had a concussion coming into the WWC, which is why the bump in the Canada game kept her out of the Italy game more than TWO WEEKS LATER.

    We also did not put a scintilla of pressure on the opposition's back line. The only time in the past several months that we "forechecked" was for maybe about 30 seconds in the Italy friendly. And we got the ball out of it!
  18. Adam Zebrowski

    Adam Zebrowski New Member

    May 28, 1999
    The idea of forechecking is a nice idea...

    The problem is mobility at forward....

    Wambach and parlow aren't the quickest or most mobile...

    Hamm's age has reduced her once great mobility...

    I'd agree pressuing the ball, to cause turnovers does create a vital aspect to the offensive game..

    USA never really has been a forechecking demon...

    Historically, USA has had so much of the possession game, other teams would defend, defend, defend...

    and USA would rarely be in a possession to NEED to regain possession...

    other teams would turn it back over..or would try long ball to hit the USA on the counter game...

    but the world has changed, and USA tactics need to change too.
  19. AndyMead

    AndyMead Homo Sapien

    Nov 2, 1999
    Seat 12A
    Sporting Kansas City
    Someone touched on it in an earlier post when referring to a game in 1981 between 15 year old girls and 11 year old boys. The main difference as far as tactics and technique is one of time, not ability. The Womens game has - and continues - to improve, but the Mens game has, too.

    If you compare WWC03 to footage from the WC70 or WC74, it's not so bad. Yes, the top teams from WC70 were ahead of anything we've seen from the womens side, but most of the teams were no more sophisticated.

    One of things that has held back the technical development from the USWNT has been lack of need. When you're already beating most everyone in sight, there's little incentive for continued development.

    The reason the WUSA has not aided the WNT is not the WUSA's fault at all. The Germans certainly gave plenty of credit to the WUSA. The USWNT failure to gain was a player personel issue, not a a player development one.

    At least I think we're finally moving past the stage where some of the "women only" crowd decried the mens game as nothing but physical superiority, with the women playing a more technical game. Hopefully that myth is finally gone.

    That said, I love the womens game. I saw nearly 1 in 7 WUSA games played in person. I attended 28 games between WWC99 and WWC03. I still consider the Landover, MD quarterfinal doubleheader in 99 to be one of the greatest, most riveting, days of soccer I've ever seen.

    I think the bar continues to be raised in the womens game. As more and more European countries devote more and more resources to both the WNTs and club sides, I'm afraid our college developed NT will be increasingly disadvantaged. A viable WUSA will be necessary to keep the USWNT at the forefront. We'll never be an also-ran, but our grip on the top is slipping.

    The USWNT has played ugly ball for several years now. We're too predictable. It has less to do with player selection than training. Both go hand in hand, but I don't recall seeing the current WNT challanged to play a better game tactically.
  20. Kim-GoBeat!

    Kim-GoBeat! New Member

    Jun 21, 2001
    Thugsville, USA
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    Parlow sure didn't play like a person with a concussion against Germany. They are definitely going to have to make some changes before the Olympics. Perhaps a coaching change would be in order.

    Hate to show my ignorance, but what is "forechecking"?
  21. SpongeBobSquarePants

    Jun 18, 2003
    Silver Spring
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    I think it is a bad analogy, but it comes from hockey. Basically, correct me if I'm wrong here, you go in and to defend the pass, but, assuming you miss, you keep going into the player to put them out of the play. Technically it is illegal, but if you make it look good nobody will say a word. While the player may have made the pass, that player is now immobilized. To bring it back to soccer, I think they basically want more pressure put on opposing teams at every aspect - offense, midfield and defense.

    This is something the women are not very good at right now. When the ball is lost on the offensive side they don't do well to put pressure on the opposing defense. And the midfield ain't doing it well either.
  22. HartwickFan

    HartwickFan Member

    Jul 31, 1999
    Climax, MI
    VfR Wormatia 08 Worms
    Nat'l Team:
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    SpongeBob-- You beat me to it. I was reading this thread and was going to post about that '98 doubleheader where the women dismantled New Zealand. I too was at that match, and the women really played the beautiful game -- lots of short passes, possession, inventiveness. They showed a ton of skill and tactical savvy. And you're completely right -- watching the men's game afterward was painful by comparison.

    Since that doubleheader, the only other time I've seen the US women live was against Nigeria here in Philly, and there really was no comparison between that team and the '98 team -- it was night and day. Against Nigeria, the US women showed none of the technical skill and tactical sophistication that was on display in the '98 match.
  23. MichaelR

    MichaelR New Member

    Jun 12, 2003
    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Really?

    I too was both of the above games. But I'm not sure they illustrate your point.

    IIRC, New Zealand did not provide much of a challenge, but the USWNT did put on a beautiful display. They really did outshine the men's team, which tied Scotland in the second game of that RFK doubleheader.

    Similarly, Nigeria was really in no position to win that WWC game in Philly. But the Super Falcons played a bruising -- and clumsy -- style, and that dictated an ugly game from the US. Fortunately we were able to make them pay by being very efficient on the set pieces.

    Having said that, I agree with your main point, that the technical development of US women's soccer has slowed down. It seemed like the USWNT peaked in 1996 and, as we sit here seven years later, there has been precious little renewal.

    To me, it is a function of the aging of key players, a poorly managed transition between generations and the technical naivete of the coaches, post-Tony and Lauren.

    Clive Charles (G-d rest his soul), if he had taken the job, would have spurred the technical development of the USWNT.
  24. Adam Zebrowski

    Adam Zebrowski New Member

    May 28, 1999
    One major factor when examining the quality of USAWNT play is, in general, the rest of the world is playing a far better game.

    And the USA has been tredding water, or at best making marginal tacyical improvements.

    If we take the generation of Founding players, they've peak was 1996-1999, and I thnk the failure to blood the next generation is the MAIN problem.

    it's a catch-22...

    are the new upcoming players better than the old line group...

    have they been given adequate opportunity??

    For me, WUSA, three years, should have created far more attacking depth...

    perhaps wusa using foreign allocations in prime attacking slots has hindered the quality of attacking players in the next generation....

    the genii is out of the bottle in many places on this planet, and I think we can expect female football to continue to make progress...

    the huge question is how USA faces these new challenges, and how does it raise the calibre of next generation player...
  25. JohnR

    JohnR Member+

    Jun 23, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    The Women's Game

    If you step back, of course the women's game is markedly inferior to the men's game. I could tell you that without watching it -

    1) One fully professional league (now dead) vs. dozens

    2) No professional youth development programs vs. hundreds (thousands?) of programs

    3) Very few serious youth players vs. millions worldwide who want to be professionals as adults

    The women's game is far less mature than the men's. Where the men's game was in the 1930s, perhaps. Even in the U.S., one of the world's powerhouses, it is a niche sport. Compare the backgrounds of ODP girls' players (almost all white girls from wealthy, white-collar suburbs) vs. those of ODP boy's players (somewhat skewed toward white & suburban, but very much closer to the face of America).

    The women will continue to catch up, just as the U.S. men have caught up to an extent with Italy, Germany, and the like. Easier to close the gap than to extend it.

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