USWNT wins, but leaves with more questions than goals in CONCACAF qualifying opener vs Haiti

Press Room

In advance of the Olympics held in 2021, there were many observers of the United States women’s national team who contended its leadership should mostly be looking forward to 2023 when constructing its roster and lineup.

Why were so many in such a rush to see this?

For a third consecutive game, the first two of them friendlies and then Monday night’s opening game in the Concacaf W Championship, the members of this USWNT edition showed they still have far to go to play like the world power they represent.

They earned a 3-0 victory over Haiti, which will suffice relative to this tournament and its role as a qualifier for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. But there were three (at least) very good reasons to be concerned.

MORE: All the big plays from USWNT’s 3-0 win over Haiti

1. Is the center back pairing quite right?

Captain Becky Sauerbrunn is 37 and earned her 200th cap five months ago. She started for two World Cup champions and has been one of the most important players of the program’s glorious past decade. We’re not going to say she no longer can get it done, but she was beaten once by Melchie Dumornay’s deft crossover move and another by her blazing speed. 

Sauerbrunn’s 25-year-old partner, Alana Cook, allowed Dumornay to get behind her on that initial play, which occurred in the 37th minute, and then did not appear to push hard enough to recover. That put Dumornay one-on-one against Sauerbrunn, and when that went badly for the U.S., only a misplaced shot and a bold save from keeper Casey Murphy kept the lead at 2-0.

Sauerbrunn was burned upfield by Dumornay in the 40th minute, which allowed Haiti to advance deep into the box. That play ended with left back Emily Fox committing an awkward foul that was rightfully called a penalty (photo below). Roselord Borgella slammed her attempt off the left post, and the shutout was intact.

Cook has taken the place that previously was filled by Abby Dahlkemper, now injured, who is sturdy enough as a defender but excels on turning most any opportunity to play the ball into a dangerous pass forward. Cook did not threaten the Haiti defense, nor did she manage to dissuade the Haiti attack.

“I don’t know if there was miscommunication or anything between our centerbacks. I would say it was the really good play of the attackers on the other team,” USWNT coach Vlatko Andonovski told reporters afterward. “If you give them a little bit of space and a little time, they’ll expose any team. Obviously, those little things I was talking about that we need to tighten up — we’re going to have to do better, because it’s not going to be any easier against Jamaica.”

MORE: Rapinoe voices concerns over Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court ruling


USWNT defender Emily Fox commits a penalty kick foul on Haiti attacker Nerilia Mondesir

(Getty Images)

2. Where have all the midfielders gone?

With World Cup champions Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan playing in front of NWSL star Andi Sullivan, it seemed at the start there would be a massive advantage for the USWNT in midfield.

Haiti chose to counter the talent differential with raw numbers, and the U.S. could not find an answer to that. This was particularly true of Horan, who could find no way into the game, and Sullivan, who was not much of a shield for the center backs and not much of a conduit between the defense and attack.

It can’t be as easy as simply flooding the midfield and daring the USWNT to attack from the wings. Horan is too gifted to disappear like this, and she and Lavelle ought to be able to combine at least now and then. They played as though in different games on different fields, almost never intersecting. Now injured, Sam Mewis did an excellent job of linking with Lavelle, which is one reason she earned playing time over Horan in 2019.

Though hardly perfect, Lavelle has been the best American player through these three games. There has to be a way to connect her and Horan on occasion.

When Ashley Sanchez entered (below), she was able to create some danger in the center of the field, not merely along the sideline.


3. Is this all there is?

The U.S. has averaged 2.7 goals in three games over the past two weeks against opponents ranked No. 28 and No. 60 in the world. Andonovski made a fair point about Haiti perhaps not being accurately ranked, but even if they were one spot ahead of Colombia, these aren’t games against the likes of France, England, Sweden or last year’s Olympic champions and CONCACAF rival, Canada.

It was promising to see veteran Alex Morgan dominate when presented with scoring chances against Haiti. She scored three magnificent goals, two of which counted. She was but a few inches from ringing up a hat trick; her sizzling finish in the 48th minute was disallowed because she was narrowly offside.

But there were too few opportunities. Haiti kept its defense gathered in the center of the field and allowed a lot of early freedom on the outside, and Andonovski varied the threats in those spaces. He used forwards Mallory Pugh and Sophia Smith on either side. Outside backs Kelley O’Hara and Fox were encouraged to get forward. Lavelle ventured outside on occasion to confuse the defense and send in a few crosses.

MORE: What is the best USWNT starting lineup for World Cup qualifying?


Vlatko Andonovski urges his USWNT squad in a CONCACAF W Championship match against Haiti

(Getty Images)

There weren’t many great chances beyond those Morgan finished.

“We’re happy we created opportunities. Not happy we didn’t finish them,” Andonovski said. “But also overall about the game, we played against a really good, disciplined team with some world-class individuals. 

“For us, it was actually good to see a side of Haiti like that because it did prepare us for future games.”

The USWNT should be approaching excellence by now, given all this great preparation they’re getting.

They’re not there yet, for sure.

Articles You May Like

Barcelona transfer news: Latest on Nico Gonzalez, Depay, player signings, loans & deals in summer window 2022
Millie Bobby Brown Steps Out in New York City With Boyfriend Jake Bongiovi
Surface Exclusive Clip: James Takes A Risk!
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s Alleged 2016 Airplane Incident Detailed in FBI Report
Daniel Ricciardo won’t get ‘another chance’ in F1, claims Ralf Schumacher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.