The day had finally come. Our USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) was ready to put the pedal to the metal and get their World Cup dream started. Today’s foe? The Socceroos of Australia. Team USA had the following starting 11:
1-Solo; 11-Krieger, 4-Sauerbrunn, 19-Johnston, 22-Klingenberg; 23-Press, 12-Holiday, 10-Lloyd, 15-Rapinoe; 2-Leroux, 20-Wambach (capt.)
Available Subs: 3-Rampone, 5-O’Hara, 6-Engen, 7-Boxx, 8-Rodriguez, 9-O’Reilly, 13-Morgan, 14-Brian, 16-Chalupny, 17-Heath, 18-Harris, 21-Naeher
The game started fast for both sides. The girls seemed very nervy and were sending lots of long balls to start the game. But they glory came quick for the Americans as Megan Rapinoe scored off of a deflection in the 12′ to take the US up 1-0 (assist from Abby Wambach). SEE THE GOAL
Wambach was the focus of the 1st Half. The US midfield constantly sent long ball after long ball forward, to try to get her involved. Although they found her twice, one header went wide and the other couldn’t connect.
One of the weak points people have been talking about was the US back-line. Australia infiltrated with ease after a barrage of solid passes, and Michelle Heyman found Lisa De Vanna who found the side netting. Hope Solo had a decent look but the play happened too fast. De Vanna’s goal in the 27′ was her 34th international goal and 6th World Cup goal in her career.
At halftime the stats were deadlocked just like the score, seeing both sides even just about everywhere:
USA / AUS
Shots: 6 / 6
Shots on Goal: 3 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 0 / 0
Fouls: 7 / 7
Offside: 1 / 0
Personally, I think Christen Press should be playing up top as a forward. The entire first half her play in the midfield was spotty, but Rapinoe was making up for most it. Sydney Leroux had been a workaholic the entire match and her speed constantly tested Australia’s back-line. In the 61′, she found Christen Press inside the box and scored her first career World Cup goal (and first World Cup assist for Leroux).
Morgan Brian and Alex Morgan were brought in late in the match. I was shocked when Leroux came out for Morgan, but with her coming off the bench she needed to get some type of playing time just to stay warm. The synergy is there with Morgan/Wambach but there is no questioning Leroux’s work rate and speed. Brian came in for Rapinoe after she scored her second goal in the 78′ with the Carli Lloyd assist. Tobin Heath also logged some minutes after coming in for Press.
In total the girls had a great opening game. The defense will need a bit of tweaking but the girls played great. I liked the ferocity of Julie Johnston on the back-line and her involvement in the set pieces up front. Hope Solo came through in the clutch, especially early on. Aside from the De Vanna goal, she played an excellent game. Immediately you could see why the US dealt with all of the drama surrounding her this past year. She is a necessity if the US want to win the World Cup this year and being in the “group of death” doesn’t make things any easier. Wambach never found a rhythm and looked a bit rusty. She did forego the NWSL season to prepare for the tournament so I’m sure she’ll be fine. If the Americans find themselves in a jam though with nothing flowing on offense, they should consider subbing her around halftime. It was good to see Jill Ellis keeping her in for the full 90′ as this will be her last shot at World Cup gold.
USA plays Sweden on Friday, June 12 on Fox.