Teamwork makes the dream work

USWNT fall to England in preview of potential World Cup conflict

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By Laken Litman
FOX Sports activities Soccer Author

This was the sport everybody had been anticipating for months. The reigning World Cup champion United States in opposition to the lately topped European champion England on the iconic Wembley Stadium in entrance of a sold-out crowd.

England gained 2-1 in a sport that was technically a pleasant, however actually did not really feel like one. From begin to end, the match was wild, enjoyable and entertaining. It had every little thing from questionable VAR calls to a Megan Rapinoe free kick smacking Lauren Hemp within the face to 17-year-old Alyssa Thompson making her nationwide workforce debut.

This was the U.S. girls’s nationwide workforce’s first loss since final 12 months’s 1-0 semifinal end result in opposition to Sweden within the Tokyo Olympics, however as coach Vlatko Andonovski mentioned a number of instances the previous few weeks, the end result did not matter as a lot as this sport was all about preparation for subsequent summer season’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Listed here are three ideas on the match.

2023 World Cup remaining preview?

These two sides may very effectively meet once more in subsequent summer season’s World Cup remaining. They’re actually two overwhelming favorites, and neither workforce was even at full energy on Friday.

The U.S. did not have Alex Morgan, who missed the journey with a knee damage. Morgan lately gained the NWSL’s Golden Boot for main the league with 15 objectives in 17 video games and Andonovski mentioned that had this been a World Cup remaining, she would have been obtainable.

The USWNT have been additionally with out rising star ahead Catarina Macario, who performs for Lyon. She’s been out a lot of the 12 months after tearing her ACL in June. Winger Mallory Pugh was additionally unavailable after leaving camp early to are likely to a household dedication again residence. The U.S. wish to suppose all three gamers could be obtainable subsequent summer season.

In Morgan and Pugh’s absence, Andonovoski began Rapinoe, Sophia Smith and Trinity Rodman up high. The three of them mixed for what would have been essentially the most stunning aim of the sport had it not been disallowed by VAR. Within the first half, Smith beat Millie Vivid one-on-one on the proper facet, Rapinoe flicked off her cross and Rodman completed behind the online to briefly make the rating 2-2. 

In the meantime, England, which arguably regarded a bit crisper than the U.S., did not have captain and middle again Leah Williamson or striker Alessia Russo, who have been each out with accidents. They can even probably be obtainable subsequent summer season for a possible rematch.

Clearly the U.S. wished to win, however Andonovski mentioned a number of instances this match wasn’t about bragging rights. It was all about World Cup preparation. He mentioned no person will bear in mind this end result in the event that they win all of it subsequent 12 months. In March 2019, England beat the U.S. on the SheBelieves Cup, however then the USWNT beat the Lionesses later that 12 months within the World Cup semifinal.

That is what Andonovski hopes occurs once more.

“They confirmed as soon as once more that they are excellent and that in case you give them a bit house, they’ve gamers who could make a distinction,” Andonovski mentioned after the match.

“I would not thoughts going through them within the remaining once more.”

Sophia Smith’s star energy

The 22-year-old Smith seems to be like among the best gamers on the planet and would not even have 25 caps for the nationwide workforce but.

Smith scored one aim and would have had an help, too, had the USWNT’s second aim not been reversed by VAR. The Portland Thorns ahead, who scored 14 objectives within the NWSL this season (one fewer than Morgan), is harmful each time she’s close to the ball. She’s fearless and runs proper at defenders and wins one-on-one battles. She’s robust on herself when she would not rating a number of objectives in a sport.

Smith, who has mentioned she desires to be the perfect participant on the planet, at present leads the USWNT in scoring this 12 months with 10 objectives. Earlier than taking part in England, she most lately scored a brace within the USA’s 4-0 win over Nigeria in September.

“I believed Soph was excellent,” Andonovski mentioned. “She appeared like she made a reputation for herself. However we will not neglect she’s [22] years previous. To come back in an surroundings like this and to be a distinction maker, to attain a aim and have one other unimaginable help for a aim that was referred to as again, it simply exhibits the potential that she has.

“However I feel that we have not seen the perfect of her. These are video games that may expedite her growth, and I am excited to see what she seems to be like six months from now, 9 months from now.”

Younger gamers getting expertise

One of many issues the U.S. will proceed to work on because it gears up for subsequent summer season is getting its younger gamers extra expertise. Andonovski’s beginning lineup in opposition to England averaged simply 55 caps per participant with Rapinoe and Lindsey Horan being the one gamers with greater than 100. Smith, Rodman, Sofia Huerta, Emily Fox, Alana Prepare dinner and Naomi Girma all began the sport with fewer than 25 caps.

Rodman, 20, and Girma, 22, stood out as children who may quickly solidify beginning spots on this roster for years to come back. They each regarded comfy and comfy. Rodman ought to have had a aim and Girma, who’s a number one candidate for NWSL Rookie of the 12 months, hardly ever made errors on the again line in opposition to the European champs.

Then late within the sport, Andonovski gave Thompson the chance to get her first cap with the nationwide workforce. Presently a highschool senior, the 17-year-old Thompson got here on late within the sport for Rapinoe. Together with her look, she grew to become the seventieth teenager to earn a cap for the USWNT, the youngest participant to debut since Pugh made hers — additionally as a 17-year-old — in 2016.

Up subsequent for the U.S. is a match in opposition to Spain on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in Pamplona at Estadio El Sadar earlier than internet hosting Germany on U.S. soil for 2 November friendlies. Anticipate Andonovski to maintain getting extra younger gamers into the combo because the workforce prepares for subsequent summer season.

One of many main soccer journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has lined United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a workers author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities. Comply with him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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