US WNT: progression or regression

Discussion in 'USA Women: News and Analysis' started by htide, May 7, 2008.

  1. htide

    htide Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    So i was digging through some video of pre wwc play of the us team and trying to do a little comparison to the play we have seen recently (and procrastinating on other things i should be doing). I posted a few here. I thought it would be interesting now that its been almost 6 months since pia came on board, to get a little discussion going about what we like/don't like about the new style etc.


    USA v. China June 2007

    USA v. NZ 2007 August 2007

    USA v. Finland August 2007

    USA v. Mexico October 2007

    USA v. Aussi (1st)

    USA v. Aussi(2nd)

    USA v. Norway (Algarve final)


    Looking back i noted a few things:

    (1) Before, we almost exclusivly scored on set pieces. Id like to see us do more of the now, but i prefer to be scoring the majority of our goals through the actual play of soccer.

    (2) before we rarely possessed the ball for more then a second and the ball spent a lot of time in the air.

    (3) Before we were like a machine gun, shooting and shooting and shooting till the damn thing went in, but because there was no passing and no system of play once we got in front of better teams (like that china team in the first clip) we could not find a way to get one in because we were not CREATING any opportunities.

    (4) our d now still needs work and we are still trying to get the hang of this new system. I think its for the better in the long run, my only question is will we have it down by august? i do not know.

    whats your guys take?
  2. Steve Long

    Steve Long Member

    Nov 22, 1999
    springfield Va
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I interviewed Pia Sundhage today and the article is at American Soccer News. She explains how she is changing the team's attacking dynamic.

    Steve Long
  3. BrooklynSoccer

    BrooklynSoccer Member+

    Jan 22, 2008
    Great article. One of my concerns is that Pia is much more focused on keeping possession than playing efficiently to win or, say, keeping a tight, well-organized defense.
    A trend I have noticed is in the first few games played under Pia our defense allowed fewer goals and have slowly increased as time under her leadership increases. Perhaps this is by chance or maybe it's Greg's system wearing off and Pia's new system setting in.
    I am concerned with our defense and Pia's almost refusal to discuss it and focus on it.
  4. Bonnie Lass

    Bonnie Lass Super Moderator
    Staff Member

    Oct 20, 2000
    Up top
    Olympique Lyonnais
    Nat'l Team:
    I wouldn't necessarily say it's been keeping me up at night, but it has struck me as kind of odd that she doesn't address it all that much. Especially with those two own goals against the Matildas.

    I mean, yes, hooray, the U.S. has a solid attacking game now. But they've seriously got to stop relying on the forwards to make up for the blatant defensive errors before it catches up with them.

    I don't know. Perhaps Pia already has a set defense in her mind and she's playing everyone for the hell of it. But it's a little unsettling, none the less.
  5. jetdog9

    jetdog9 Member+

    Nov 14, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I thought Mitts was pretty steady on the right side, though. Maybe they weren't attacking from that side as much, but it was good to see her playing like that after the ACL.
  6. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    i'm really hoping she has both the players and a system in mind but she has just chosen to work on offense first.

    most coaches choose to make sure that their defense is in proper order first.
  7. htide

    htide Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    what i took from that was that she felt our defense was already where it needed to be. The natural aggression of the playshe was talking about is needed and already there for D. I got the sense she is trying to work on the front 2/3s knowing that is where we need to make the changes. I think therefore she is pushing more play up the field and trying to get the system in sync. She is not an idiot and I do not think she has had issues either in Boston or coaching or playing in Sweden with a team without defense. I guess we will just have to wait and see whether the players can make those changes.
  8. BrooklynSoccer

    BrooklynSoccer Member+

    Jan 22, 2008
    Yes, htide, that is what she is saying continually and consistently. But as the recent games have shown our defense continues to weaken and is not where it needs to be, and what she is not saying is anything about that decline.

    Steve, your interview was informative.****Pia is going for a sophisticated style of soccer, one that most top men's teams would have a hard time instituting. And a system that calls for very speedy, athletic, and competent defenders.****She is definitely making things interesting.

    I will say that all of the players continue to talk about their individual, personal gains as a player and to me, that is very exciting. She is pushing everyone to get better.

    I would like to see her stick to one or two defensive rotations very soon, so the girls will be able to read eachothers minds.
    I watched the first half of the second Australia match twice and I don't think Mitts played as strongly as some on here. (And I'm praying she gets back to top form again) But in the first 15 minutes she had numberious turn overs.
  9. soccermum

    soccermum New Member

    Sep 24, 2006
    Nice article Steve. I would by lying if I said I wasn't concerned that we gave up 6 to Australia. That's a lot of goals to give up to any team. On the positive side, they found a way to win late in both matches but can it be a fluke that they gave up the lead twice? I hope so. It will be interesting to see what Canada brings. Hopefully there is time to work out the growing pains and solidify things defensively.
  10. UNC4EVER

    UNC4EVER Member

    Sep 27, 2007
    I am now more alarmed than I have been at any time since Sundhage took over the team. The implications of this Long interview are a bit disturbing if I read it correctly.

    Ryan did all he could to turn the WNT into a one-dimensional squad focused on direct attack. I think most agree that more flexibility and creativity in attack is a much welcomed change!

    What I don't like about this interview is the idea that the WNT should forego half-chances on attack because of the opportunity cost to our shape on defense. EG: If we bang it, we open ourselves to the quick counter should we fail, and the potential risk is greater than the expected benefit. That is fine in theory, and (in fact) sounds a lot like Germany, but I don't see the application in practice to our squad right now. For all the good things I can find to say about our current WNT, the image of our defense as a shinning well-oiled machine you would not want to disrupt doesn't come first to mind. This is essentially the same defense we had at the WWC and it is vulnerable, more now, with the wider midfield and the overlapping backs. For the first time, I'm concerned we may be throwing the baby out with the bath-water -- we need to go crazy on those good half-chances! It sounds like Sundhage is looking for 10 Kacey Whites out there. Not what we need. A truely patient and methodical attack requires a bomber defense which we don't have right now. Unless the defense gets on a string between now and August, I foresee this approach (if implemented) as a problem for both Brazil and Germany, maybe others as well.
  11. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    as htide has pointed out, pia simply does not have a history of just letting the defense go to rot in her coaching past.

    yes, i'm officially worried. i think if you're changing the team around, you get the defense to be sound first. then you fiddle with the rest. maybe she has done that. because she did not give up a whole host of goals in her first few games. maybe now that she is changing around the offense the defense is getting out of sorts. and maybe they'll get back to their old stingy self this weekend and in the coming weeks. i don't know.

    like i said. i'm officially worried. but i'm patient. i'm giving pia the benefit of the doubt.
  12. htide

    htide Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    well at least we have a lot to think about now that we have a better idea about wth is going on. It should make watching the game this weekend really interesting.
  13. jackiesdad

    jackiesdad Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    I'm still relatively new to this board and the milieu surrounding the US women's soccer team, so please cut me some slack if the following sounds out of line:

    I'm thinking that maybe we're seeing the results of Pia trying to be politically correct. There are a few members of the team whom I think have fallen behind in terms of their ability to play international soccer. Unfortunately, some of these women of whom I speak are "fan favorites." To cut or bench such a player in the first few months of Pia's tenure would no doubt draw the ire of many American soccer fans. However, if these women are allowed to play in some of our pre-Olympic "friendlies", America would be given the chance to see their shortcomings, and when Pia names her final Olympic roster, there would be less outrage by the masses.

    I think we allowed 4 goals last week because 2 such players were on defense, and I'm already seeing alot of posts since Saturday urging one of them to retire. I think once we consistantly see the same 5 girls back there (I'm counting the keeper, of course), then we will start to see shutouts again.
  14. noorwell

    noorwell Member

    Sep 15, 2003
    All you guys who call me an idiot because i postulate that Pia should play the European style with out sacrificing much of our natural American style of soccer and blend into a coherent form... should now go and check Pia article on right now.. and BTW check out my origional article some were bury in some thread a month or so ago.. some of you guys don't know anything about soccer, you just specalate that all.. end of my rant..
  15. jackiesdad

    jackiesdad Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    I noticed that Pia interview earlier and wanted to come back and read it when I had more time. Now I can't find it. Did they take it down?
  16. noorwell

    noorwell Member

    Sep 15, 2003
    I read it yesterday... I notice a few hours ago when I went checking for it, it was no longer up... I tried checking the archive and can't find it any were...
  17. htide

    htide Member

    Jul 28, 2007
    here is another article from wp on pia's plan

    noorwell you have a right to your opinion but i disagree.

    I think this team will be 100% better for what they are trying to incorporate into the game. If you listen to the players they are talking about learning how to THINK on the field. They were not doing that before, and it hurt us. Same with possession. Besides the fact that possessing means you get to control the tempo (rather then run around chasing the other side which was often the case in the wwc), but also you create opportunities which we were not doing either before. By playing with more possession we are not going to lose the thing that made the team strong, like the athleticism of the players.

    i think one of the most interesting points in the article was from hao who said

    Previously in residency camps, we trained more against ourselves and obviously it's very tough competition knowing this group, but games are very important and Pia emphasizes that by having two more international trips before the big one

    This is just an example of why i like the approach pia is taking. i think this was a big problem under Ryan. few teams played our more direct style and yet we constantly tried to prepare by playing against ourselves. We need more international games against more diverse styles of play.

    I personally like the direction that Pia is going. My only concern is I am not sure we can get it down before the Olympics. I guess that is really going to be the true test, isn't it.
  18. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    if we can't get it down before the olympics then it was the wrong direction for this time. like i've said before, changing around the attack is all well and good. it's just a different system. but it has to win. there are pretty systems that don't win. and my worry is that it should start first with the defense. when you have the defense working like a trap door, then change the offense.

    maybe she did that and it's not apparent. maybe it will all come together in today's game and the games here on out. let's just wait and see.

    markgraf and rampone together back in the center should all by itself make the defense better.
  19. StarCityFan

    StarCityFan BigSoccer Supporter

    Aug 2, 2001
    Greenbelt, MD
    Washington Freedom
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I saw tonight's game at RFK, and they were awesome - you wouldn't believe it was the same team as the WWC.
  20. casoccerdad47

    casoccerdad47 Member+

    Mar 31, 2006
    Just like Pia's take on offense, be patient. She's looked at a lot of different players on defense, so the coordination hasn't necessarily been there. Once she settles on a set defense, and I expect it soon (we may have seen it in the game against Canada) things will settle done. Part of the issue is getting defensive rotations down, when a player overlaps into the attack. Ryan didn't emphasize overlaps so they haven't worked on rotations in a while, communication between the defensive mid and the overlapping players is very important in this kind of system.

    Its been a while, but we used to commit a lot of players to the attack on a regular basis. We all have images of McMillan getting forward from a wide midfield position to provide beautiful crosses and Brandi regularly got forward from her left back position. We were able to play solid defense then and should be able to play solid defense now.
  21. bolts2

    bolts2 New Member

    Jun 5, 2002
    Mission Viejo, CA
    And there was Joy Fawcett, who also used to regularly move forward into attack from her right back position. I especially liked the way they used her on the San Diego Spirit, where the defense would automatically rotate and have a midfielder drop if necessary to account for the occasional counter attack when things went wrong with Fawcett moved forward. This type of system takes a while to develop, if that indeed is what Pia has in mind.

    One fact I'm realizing is that the players we have back there now simply aren't as talented as those in prior years. Gotta deal with it.
  22. luvdagame

    luvdagame Member+

    Jul 6, 2000
    i don't think this is necessarily true. the players of the past found it easy to attack in numbers and with abandon because they were so much better than the teams they competed against. women's soccer has grown by leaps and bounds. other teams are much more competetive with the uswnt now. if you attack with as many numbers now and as often as they did, you'll get burned more often.

    it's just a different era of women's football.
  23. casocrfan

    casocrfan Member

    Nov 25, 2004
    San Francisco
    and teams are not afraid of the U.S. any more. For so long teams would just bunker against the U.S. Now they attack. That's a huge difference.

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