This thread is intended to be an in-depth look at where the USA came up short in WWC '03 and what can be done to improve for '04. Please avoid bashing personalities -- particularly the coach. If you want to assert that Heinrichs should be fired, there are other threads to do it. Feel free to suggest what should have been done differently (including coaching decisions) (i.e., "Pearce should have started" or "the attack should not always run down the right flank followed by a header" is fine; "we need a new coach" is for a different thread). The "Fire Heinrichs" calls can go on elsewhere (I'm not joining them; I'll do a separate thread later to defend her, and I will gladly take on all comers there). To me, the three most glaring flaws in the USA team construction and play were: injuries, lack of finishing against good teams and lack of controlled midfield passing. Hucles' injury hurt and came after the roster was named. O'Reilly's came before and cost speed up front. MacMillan is a questionable call. Reports say she was recovered, and her versatility, proven game performance and hard shot, plus her contribution to chemistry, made her right to take in that situation. But something ran amiss during the Cup. Slaton also was questionable, but if Heinrichs remotely thought she could go she too was a right choice. Second, as Wambach displayed greatness, the team relied on her too much. Her value is in not only dominating opponents, but leaving others free to cash in (like luring four defenders on a corner versus Norway, leaving Parlow open). The others were using her too often as a target and not enough to create from -- unlike the beautiful first goal against Sweden. Third, there was too little midfield play that led to through passes to spring open players -- or to setups of shots from 20 to 25 meters. I don't get hung up about few goals off the run of play while so many came from set pieces. Set pieces gave the USA early leads in most games, changing the flow of play and ensuring that goals in the run of play would be harder to come. Finally, several players simply failed to play up to what fans had a right to expect. Both Wagner and Milbrett looked lost on the pitch. Heinrichs gave them both chances and neither could produce. By the end of the tournament, we had no bench. Biggest need for the future -- a new midfield. Pearce, Sobrero, Reddick and Slaton can anchor a back line. Boxx can handle defensive mid. Wambach and O'Reilly will score up front. Who are the up and coming midfielders? Remember, soccer today is a midfielder's game. Virtually all of the highest greats in the men's game today are midfielders. Meinart was devastating for Germany. Norway had no midfield against the USA. Where is the USA's future midfield?