US Women's National Team

Live Blog: USWNT vs. Mexico (9/18/14)

We are just minutes away from kickoff of the second match of the United States’ two-game series with Mexico. The U.S. won Saturday, 8-0, in Sandy, Utah. Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan had a pair of goals each and Sydney Leroux, Heather O’Reilly, Whitney Engen and an own goal rounded out the scoring.

Starting Lineups:

USA Starters: Hope Solo; Meghan Klingenberg, Christie Rampone, Becky Sauerbrunn, Kelley O’Hara; Carli Lloyd, Lauren Holiday, Megan Rapinoe; Tobin Heath, Amy Rodriguez, Sydney Leroux

USA subs:  Heather O’Reilly, Alex Morgan, Julie Johnston, Crystal Dunn, Abby Wambach, Christen Press, Ashlyn Harris

Mexico Starters:  Santiago, Romero, Alvarado, Solis, Mercado, Rangel, Samarzich, Mayor, Sierra, Perez, Corral

Pregame notes:

Amy Rodriguez (finally) gets her first start for the USA since March 12 under Tom Sermanni. Tobin Heath up top is an interesting move, though not one that I can really see working out, unless this is more of a 4-5-1 type formation with three central midfielders (Rapinoe, Holiday and Lloyd) and then Heath and Leroux as wing midfielder-type players. According to ESPN broadcast, that is indeed what the formation is, which is interesting given Jill Ellis’ tendency to play the 4-3-3

O’Hara steps into her left back spot where we saw Stephanie Cox play on Saturday. It will be interesting to see if either Klingenberg or Dunn can earn a spot on that backline at one of the outside back positions. Ali Krieger remains out with what is termed a “minor injury” by U.S. Soccer.

Interestingly enough, Hope Solo remains the starter in goal and Harris remains the back up. After barely seeing a shot versus Mexico on Saturday, I’m surprised that Ellis would elect to start her in goal once again. I’m unsure if Harris being selected as the back up means that she has won over the second spot from Nicole Barnhart or if there is something else going on there. I thought that after Alyssa Naeher’s NWSL season that we would be seeing her in goal for the U.S., especially as we head into World Cup Qualifying.

First half:

We are underway in Rochestor!

9′ – GOAL – Rapinoe wins the ball after some defensive pressure and a toe poke to Amy Rodriguez who takes a touch and plays it with the outside of her right foot and finds the back of the net. The productivity for A-Rod in 2014 continues.

A-Rod finds the back of the net and makes her case for being in this lineup. Also will be keeping an eye on Kelley O’Hara after she took a rough tackle to the back of her lower leg/ankle. O’Hara had reconstructive ankle surgery just over a year ago.

13′ – Mexico almost gets one in on Solo, but Solo makes a sliding stop on Corral to prevent a dangerous opportunity. It looked like both O’Hara and Klingenberg got caught too far forward.

Thus far, I like how the outside players (Heath, Klingenberg, O’Hara, Leroux) are playing wide. I’d like to see fewer giveaways between the front six though. Klingenberg is showing that she can get up the field into the attack, which I like to see. O’Hara as well has been getting into the attack (though less frequently than Klingenberg is).

21′ – Santiago is doing much better here getting the ball away on set pieces.

26′ – The U.S. is dominating possession here, but has only managed to get a few dangerous scoring chances and still leads, 1-0. The build up has been good but Mexico is doing a good job of clogging up any crosses from getting through.

As soon as the U.S. gets remotely near the attacking third, Mexico is bottling everything up and making it far more challenging than six days ago. The giveaways from midfield to the forward(s) has been a bit frustrating to watch.  Lloyd has been closed down quickly, Rapinoe has not had much space and Holiday has looked pretty invisible. I’m unsure if that’s been because of the formation/position switch or what.

35′ – Rodriguez almost had another but was unable to toe poke it past Santiago

37′ – GOAL – Klingenberg bends in a cross from the right side that gets cleared right to Rapinoe who smacks it first time off a defender’s foot and past Santiago for the two-goal lead. Rapinoe’s finish was fantastic there, but the cross from Klingenberg was placed in a dangerous spot. Klingenberg is definitely making a case for herself to get into that outside back position.

43′ – O’Hara whips a cross in on the left side that finds A-Rod at the back post and she smartly pulls it back towards the middle but there is no one making that run and the chance is cleared away.

44′ – GOAL – A missed trap from Rodriguez almost acts as a dummy and Heath makes her run through the middle to get on the end of it and slots the ball past an onrushing Santiago. 3-0 to the Americans.

45+’ – Leroux plays a ball to Lloyd running near post who barely gets a touch on the ball and it goes off the post and back to Santiago right before the whistle for hafltime blows.

Halftime:

I think that overall, while the United States is dominating ball possession, there have been far too many giveaways, particularly in the middle of the field and attacking third. Against stronger competition, those giveaways are not going to be so forgiving. Mexico has not been able to get many quality chances but have tested the back line twice (particularly with Corral’s run early on).

Player I’ve been impressed with (On the bubble):  Klingenberg has been impressive tonight, getting forward and being involved in the attack. I think that she is making a case for herself to be on this qualifying roster and potentially on the World Cup roster next year.

I’m not as much a fan of Holiday sitting back as defensively as she is but I do like that Rapinoe has the freedom to roam and to create. I don’t think that we saw her being utilized fully as an outside midfielder and I think that playing a more attacking central midfield position suits her more.

What do you think about the first half? What changes would you like to see in the first half? Sound off in the comments below!

Subs:

USA:  Abby Wambach ON, Megan Rapinoe OFF
USA:  Alex Morgan ON, Amy Rodriguez OFF
USA:  Heather O’Reilly ON, Tobin Heath OFF
USA:  Julie Johnston ON, Lauren Holiday OFF

Not sure I like this. I’d have liked to see Rodriguez and Rapinoe stay on. And Holiday, just to see how this midfield combination works some more. I am, however, happy to see Julie Johnston get a solid 45 minutes.

Second half:

We are underway.

Abby as an attacking central midfielder, what? This confuses me. It confuses me a lot. Not sure how that one works out at all.

50′ – Morgan plays a cross at the backpost for O’Reilly but she mishits her volley and the ball is cleared from danger by Mexico

53′ – Leroux gets played on the right side puts a cross in that is deflected out to the top of the box where Wambach is waiting. Her left-footed volley sails just over the crossbar.

55′ – Solo comes out to play the ball with her feet but misplays it and Veronica Perez is given an empty net to shoot at. Perez takes a touch to settle and Sauerbrunn slides in to save the clean sheet.

Sub:

USA:  Crystal Dunn ON, Meghan Klingenberg OFF

Klingenberg had a good match. We’ll see what Dunn brings to the table as well.

62′ – Leroux gets played in and takes several too many touches before her ball across is deflected out for a corner. She has to get that off her foot faster. Even if she has that shot deflect or bounce around, Morgan was also in the area to potentially finish as well.

67′ –  O’Reilly’s cross finds Wambach, but the header is wide of goal.

Sub:

USA:  Sydney Leroux OFF, Christen Press ON

I really would like to see more of the three-front with Press-Morgan-Leroux one of these days.

72′ – Morgan has a golden chance to make it 4-0 but her shot nicks the post and goes wide.

Wambach playing as a central attacking midfielder has not looked like it’s working out much. I don’t think that it’s the proper role for her. I think they discussed it earlier, but I can agree that she would be best as a target forward rather than this playmaking type role.

75′ – Morgan gets in on Santiago again and tries spinning around the defender and keeper but Santiago yanks it off her foot.

77′ – Morgan gets a second run in after being played in by Wambach and her cross finds Press who turns and fires. The shot is kicksaved by Santiago and cleared away.

79′ – GOAL – Morgan gets her goal after having several chances in the last several minutes. O’Reilly stops and serves a ball from the right side to the back post. Morgan waited of the ball to be played and slipped past her defender. Also of note, Mexico left both Press and Wambach to run unmarked behind Morgan. So you can bet that if Morgan didn’t get her head on it, one of the other two would have. Woeful defending in that aspect.

The U.S. had a few half chances to finish out the match but this one is going to end 4-0 for the Americans. Goals by Rodriguez, Rapinoe, Heath and Morgan tonight.

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